Thursday, December 17, 2009

“Awesome?” How about absurd instead?

There has been speculation in recent days that Rod Blagojevich and his legal defense team might very well try to drag Barack Obama into the courtroom sometime this summer in hopes that his comments and political goodwill would reflect well upon himself.

Of course, the fact that Obama now goes by the title “Mr. President” means that his people will do everything they possibly can to ensure that the onetime U.S. senator from Chicago won’t have to set foot anywhere near the Dirksen Building anytime soon.

FOR THE RECORD, Blagojevich’s lead attorney told reporter-types on Wednesday that being able to question Obama under oath would be “an awesome experience.” It would be so bizarre, but it also would ensure that Samuel E. Adam would be the focus of the legal world for that one day.

Not that there’s anything Obama would seriously be able to add to the understanding of this particular case.

If anything, the real purpose about dreaming of getting Obama involved is to turn the Blagojevich trial into a legal circus of sorts. Get everybody so focused on the actions of Obama that people begin to think of Milorod as secondary, if not downright irrelevant.

From there, acquittal is an easy step. Not that anything related to this particular criminal case is easy or sensible.

IN THIS PARTICULAR case, attorneys will remind us that federal investigators themselves thought Obama was significant enough to interview back when they were trying to figure out how extensive the criminal behavior related to Blagojevich truly was.

I would guess they will claim that since “the feds” got to question Obama, they too should be able to do so. Not that they expect to get serious information. Like I wrote earlier, this tactic is all about misdirection.

What does Obama know? Why won’t Obama testify? What is Obama trying to hide? Of course, they’ll use the words “cover up.” As in What is Obama trying to cover up? It sounds so much more ominous that way.

And if they can somehow turn this case into a debate of sorts about Barack’s behavior, rather than that of Milorod, they may think it will work in their favor. At the very least, they may cause enough confusion among the eventual jurors that a mistrial would be a distinct possibility.

I HAVE TO admit to hoping that Obama never does have to get involved in this particular legal mess, and not just because I don’t think there’s much he could say that would truly be relevant.

It’s just that I remember how much of a circus a trial can become when a major political figure has to take an oath to tell the “truth, whole truth and nothing but the truth” and be treated just like any other schmoe who is subpoenaed to testify in a criminal trial.

I still remember the summer of ’97 when in U.S. District Court for central Illinois, executives of a company that did business with the Illinois Department of Public Aid were on trial along with some state officials.

Then-Gov. Jim Edgar had some contact with the defendants (one of them was something resembling a computer “whiz” who literally helped set up a computer for Edgar’s use at his home in suburban Springfield).

THOSE OF US who observed that trial ultimately got to see the day when the legal proceedings became a mess because Edgar had to show up and testify that he personally wasn’t aware of any illegal activity by the people who he knew as acquaintances.

In the end, I’m not sure what information Edgar was able to provide that added anything to my understanding of the case. I just remember Edgar’s day in court as the day that a whole lot of television crews showed up to crowd the hallways and turn the downtown Springfield courthouse into something resembling a zoo.

I could easily see the Dirksen Building becoming the same way if Obama were forced to return and talk about what questions he answered in those days when he was president-elect and when Blagojevich was in charge of picking the person who would get to replace him.

We remember the many names who were sucking up to Blagojevich in those first few days after Obama won the 2008 presidential elections, hoping that he would give them the appointment to finish the term to which Obama was elected in 2004.

WE ALL EVEN know that Blagojevich inquired about what it was these people would be willing to do on the governor’s behalf if they were giv en the appointment – which would have given them the benefits of incumbency if they sought re-election in next year’s elections.

I don’t know that Obama himself knew much about the degree to which Blagojevich crossed the line between playing partisan politics and engaging in criminal behavior. He’d probably wind up taking the same line of logic that Edgar took on his day of testimony, claiming he, “didn’t know anything.”

Personally, I don’t know that such a revelation is worth all the hassle that would be created, just so Adam could have his “awesome experience” for his legal career.


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