One-time Illinois first lady Patti Blagojevich may be “dumbfounded” and “flabbergasted” at the federal court judge who on Tuesday refused to reduce the prison sentence her husband, Rod, is serving.
But I can’t help but think that there were many people out amongst the masses who cheered quite loudly when they learned during the lunch hour that U.S. District Judge James Zagel re-imposed the same 14-year prison term that he originally gave to the former Illinois governor.
A FEDERAL APPEALS court in Chicago may have decided last year that five of the 14 counts that Rod Blagojevich was found guilty of were improper and tossed them out.
But that still left Blagojevich guilty of nine criminal counts and prosecuting attorneys at the federal courthouse in Chicago were determined to believe that those counts were the most severe and still amounted to acts worthy of a lengthy prison sentence – and not just the usual 18-month stint at the federal correctional center in Oxford, Wis., that often jokingly is referred to as an “Oxford education.”
It may be that only Patti Blagojevich and the couples’ daughters, Amy and Annie, thought there was a serious chance that Zagel would impose a new prison sentence that would result in significantly-less time having to be served at that correctional center in Colorado, or anywhere else.
Most people were getting worked up at the prospect that the overall sentence would be reduced significantly from the 14-year term to about five or six years – which if it had happened would have basically made his time already served sufficient.
WE COULD HAVE had our former governor back in our midst some time by year’s end.
But Zagel likely made himself popular with the public when he made his own comments – the ones about how he wasn’t swayed by the good behavior of Blagojevich while in prison.
“Those people, Zagel said, “knew him from inside the prison. They don’t know him” like we do in the outside world.
And there most definitely are those in our society vengeful or petty enough to want maximum suffering to take place in this instance. Blagojevich’s case brings out a gut emotion in many of us that goes far beyond the facts of the case.
PARTICULARLY FOR THOSE people who want to believe that just about anything political has a touch of criminality involved, and fantasize for the day that Hillary Clinton, her husband Bill and Barack Obama wind up serving prison time.
And probably think that the time served by former Illinois Gov. George Ryan (just over six years) was also a worthy point to let Republican politicos know what can happen to them if they stray from the conservative ideological line.
So in the end, it didn’t matter much that Patti Blagojevich publicly pleaded for mercy, asking that her husband be set free so that he could at least be a father to the couples’ younger daughter (the elder one is off attending college).
It probably also didn’t matter much that Blagojevich himself was contrite and apologetic and said all the things that legal officials usually want to hear about an inmate feeling contrite and apologetic.
BLAGOJEVICH TOLD US he realized the suffering of his wife and daughters in recent years is his fault, and how much of his past political ambition was improper. “I had a lot of ambition before. I learned that some of that is overrated.”
A comment to which I’m sure some amongst us scoffed and sneered before we go back to thinking of the roughly eight years of time that Blagojevich will still owe to the Bureau of Prisons.
In fact, there may be one significant detail that came out of Tuesday’s hearing at the Dirksen Federal Building – the image of Blagojevich broadcast over closed-circuit television from his prison in Colorado most definitely showed that Rod’s hair has, indeed, gone grey. Which, if he had been free and continuing in politics all these years likely would have happened anyway.
Just look at Obama these days – although he can claim it as being from the stress of having Congressional Republicans thwart his every governmental desire, rather than a fear of being caught in a prison yard brawl!