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On Monday the former governor of Illinois was finally convicted on charges of corruption related to his intentions to benefit from the sale of President Obama’s vacated Senate seat. Although the public has been aware of Blagojeovich’s malfeasance for some time now, it is hard not to perceive the situation in lieu of the public shaming of prominent figures Anthony Weiner and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, adding to an overall sense of the untrustworthiness of some of our leaders in these tough times, times in which we as Americans are forced to have some level of trust in our politicians to get things done. According to the NY Times, Blagojevich was found guilty on 17 (of 20) charges of “wire fraud, attempted extortion, soliciting bribes, conspiracy to commit extortion and conspiracy to solicit and accept bribes.” Much of the evidence against him came in the form of secretly recorded phone calls.
Illinois is no stranger to corruption in government, especially at the highest office of the state. In fact, Blagojevich’s conviction makes him the fourth governor in a row to find himself in jail, continuing a tradition of political corruption in the state. Blagojevich attempted to argue that the aforementioned phone calls were taken out of context, explaining that what was heard in them should be understood as “brainstorming” rather than some “sinister plot.” The situation as a whole is yet another hit to the reputation of the Democratic Party and another point to which Republicans will play up come time to re-elect President Obama, particularly in light of Obama being associated with Blagojevich (despite, of course, not having done anything wrong).
Perhaps more unfortunate than anything else is the seemingly unashamed lack of true contrition in Blagojevich and others like him (e.g., Rep. Weiner). Following the conviction on Monday, Blagojevich said:
“Among the many lessons that I’ve learned from this whole experience is to try to speak a little bit less,” Mr. Blagojevich said, soon adding, “I, frankly, am stunned. There is not much left to say other than we want to get home to our little girls and explain things to them.”
This seems like a man who still doesn’t understand that his actions were not only disingenuous at a basic level but unfair to the people of the state in which he served. The fact that the one lesson he is willing to share is that he should “speak less” rather than do the right thing in the first place. The fact that he’s “stunned” at all just about says all that needs to be said abotu Mr. Blagojevich and his term as a officer of the state. However, as time goes on, one comes to expect this type of absurd unawareness on the part of our politicians. Just like Rep. Weiner, the love for power and all of its perks seems to cloud judgment and prevent those in charge from understanding their actions and their repercussions.
Contains information from The New York Times.