Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Blagojevich to leave us after Wednesday

Today is likely THE day.

U.S. District Judge James Zagel has said he will use Wednesday to actually impose a sentence against former Gov. Rod Blagojevich for the twenty-something counts upon which he was found guilty in two different trials.

WHICH MEANS Wednesday is “the end” for Blagojevich as a public figure. While I doubt they would immediately take him into custody, it is likely that Milorod will be given a few weeks to try to get his affairs in order – before then being given a chance to surrender himself at whichever federal correctional center he gets assigned to.

We make jokes about Blagojevich and former Gov. George Ryan being cellmates at the work camp near Terre Haute, Ind. But let’s not forget that Ryan got assigned to the location near a maximum-security prison because of his age and health.

Which means Blagojevich could easily wind up a recipient of an “Oxford education” at the correctional center near Oxford, Wis.

Not that it matters much. Incarceration is incarceration, regardless of which facility he gets assigned to. It will be a burden on his wife, Patti, and two daughters.

WHICH SOME PEOPLE will perceive as some sort of cheap shot on my part by trying to bring up family compassion into the equation.

I already have heard countless political and legal pundits say that the family issue means nothing on Wednesday.

I won’t be able to be at the courtroom on Wednesday. Although it wouldn’t really matter much, because I don’t believe anyone will be able to appreciate what goes through the mind of a man in that circumstance.

When all that his life amounted to has collapsed, and a judge imposes what may seem like a random number – of years that must be served before one can dream of having their freedom again.

PERSONALLY, I FOUND it humorous that Blagojevich had his Chicago Cubs fandom in mind on Tuesday. The Chicago Tribune reported that someone asked the former governor about Ron Santo’s acceptance into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Then again, if I were in that situation, I’d probably be trying to think of anything except for the situation in front of me.

Maybe Blagojevich will pass his days away in coming months replaying in his head old Cubs games and watching some of those 342 home runs sailing over the ivy-covered brick walls of Wrigley Field.

But back to Wednesday.

I’M CURIOUS TO see (even though I won’t actually be in the courtroom) how emotional Zagel becomes in actually imposing the sentence. I’m hoping he doesn’t relish the moment too much.

Because there will be more than enough people eager to see the moment and shout with joy. For all I know, it may create more excitement than Santo’s Hall of Fame election did on Monday.

As it was, I noticed that on Tuesday Zagel made a point of saying that the “30-years to life” range for a prison term was correct, while also adding that it, “simply (was) not appropriate in the context of this case.”

It certainly isn’t.

BUT IT ALSO gives me the sense that Zagel thinks the 15/20-year range is being compassionate. So when Blagojevich attorneys say they think four years ought to be a “maximum” penalty, and that perhaps something significantly less would be appropriate, there will be more than enough snickers to go around.

I’ve written before that I believe 3 years for a prison sentence somehow seems right, although it would seem I’m in the minority on this issue.

It’s just that I can’t get around the fact that Blagojevich’s “profit” from his actions that a jury found to be “criminal” was so minimal – and makes me believe that a part of the hostility that will be expressed Wednesday as joy upon the former governor’s sentencing is nothing more than political partisanship run amok.

Because I honestly believe that is what is behind a significant part of the Blagojevich hostility. Some people are enjoying themselves way too much at his expense for this to be emotionally healthy.

YES, IT’S TRUE. A part of me isn’t going to be pleased with the outcome on Wednesday – even though as I write this, I don’t know what it will be (I’ll predict “14 years” will be the actual sentence – eight years longer than what Ryan ultimately received).

Fourteen years in prison just because someone was offended that you got elected in the first place seems a bit harsh. Even if a judge thinks he’s being “compassionate” by imposing that, instead of 20.


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