|RYAN: Beginning 'elder' statesman niche|
Because I’m not as bothered as some by the fact that our former governors George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich both popped back into the news columns in recent days.
I ACTUALLY FOUND Ryan’s weekend appearance at the South Side church that calls Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., its pastor to be intriguing in the way that George H. was capable of calling on international ties that usually wouldn't be associated with a state official to get something done.
And as for Blagojevich’s attorneys appearing in court on Friday to argue the merits of why his convictions should be overturned (or at the very least, his 14-year prison sentence should be lessened), well, that’s part of the legal process.
He gets to appeal. For those who’d rather not allow him the opportunity to challenge the merits of his conviction, I’d argue that’s an “un-American” thought to have.
I make such a statement because I notice that the Internet commentary on both of these stories is so overwhelmingly negative. People use the anonymity of such comments to make racist comments about Ryan, while claiming that one-time first lady Patti Blagojevich and the attorneys all ought to be silenced.
REGARDLESS OF WHAT one thinks of the gubernatorial stints of both of these men, such attitudes may be more despicable than anything either man did. And let’s not forget that Blagojevich is in the early years of serving that 14-year sentence.
While Ryan wound up doing six-plus years in a federal Bureau of Prisons work camp for his acts.
In the case of Ryan, he made what is being considered his first public appearance since being released from prison earlier this year.
|BLAGOJEVICH: "Free Milorod?"|
It was a memorial service on the South Side for one-time activist and South Africa President Nelson Mandela, and Ryan recalled the time he got to meet with the man.
ACCORDING TO THE Chicago Sun-Times, Mandela’s minions initially rejected Ryan on the grounds that he was not a national leader or other world-renowned figure.
But Ryan did make that trip back in the autumn of 1999 to Cuba and had met with Fidel Castro. Which meant that Ryan’s people were able to contact Castro’s people, who then contacted Mandela’s people to put in a good word.
That resulted in the initial meeting, and the fact that later when Ryan was seriously contemplating clearing Death Row of its 160-some inmates because Illinois’ capital crimes statutes were so flawed, Mandela was able to get through directly to the governor to put in his thoughts (which were in line with doing away with the death penalty).
Let’s be honest. That is a key part of why many of Ryan’s critics oppose him. Internet comments were more than willing to tie Ryan to Castro, the Mandela that was considered a “Communist” and the Bobby Rush of the Black Panther Party of old.
AN UNPLEASANT REMINDER that some people in our society are determined to live in their own little world, and wish they could force the rest of us to live in it with them – under their subjugation.
Those same people were upset that Blagojevich is able to appeal his case – in which arguments were heard before a Court of Appeals panel on Friday.
Some got all worked up over the fact that some judges on the panel were more than willing to ask questions implying that perhaps the sentence was excessive. Or that maybe the former governor’s conduct wasn’t really criminal – and that politics itself isn’t automatically bribery.
Personally, I’m inclined to think those questions came from judges who wanted to see if the attorneys would come up with a pompous or otherwise-stupid statement that would then be used to reject Blagojevich’s desire for freedom sometime before he turns 67.
BUT SOME PEOPLE are just determined to rant and rage that their desires to go overboard on Blagojevich aren’t being blindly followed.
Blagojevich may wind up spending more time in prison (even if he gets the sentenced lessened slightly). But we’re going to have to accept that Ryan is destined to become that political elder statesman with a colorful past (just like one-time Congressman Dan Rostenkowski).
This was just the first of many such public appearances he’s likely to make.
Which means I need to stock up on Tylenol for the Internet-induced comments I’m going to have to endure as a result.