Saturday, December 3, 2011

What an un-likely duo

I must admit to getting a bit of a giggle at the way the names of Rod Blagojevich and Jesse Jackson, Jr., have become intertwined these days.
BLAGOJEVICH: Four more days

The former Illinois governor is scheduled to be sentenced on Wednesday for his criminal convictions that center around claims he was willing to give his appointment for a U.S. Senate seat to whomever would make it most worth his while.

THERE ARE MANY people who believe that the congressman from the Far South Side and surrounding suburbs was more than willing to make the “payoff” in order to get a political promotion.

Which is funny because I remember all the ill-will stories that got written up back in the days after Barack Obama won election as president and gave up his U.S. Senate seat from Illinois – for Blagojevich to fill.

I recall thinking that in many ways, Jackson was the obvious choice for the post. He is the person who should have received the gubernatorial appointment – IF Blagojevich were at all interested in public service and the good of the people.

But there were the grudges between them, with Blagojevich feeling that he would be turning Jackson into yet another political person who surpassed him in public prominence (just like Obama).

WHICH MAY WELL be the real reason why Blagojevich played such hardball and was demanding of Jackson people in considering him for the post. If he’s going to get pressured into appointing someone he can’t stand, then he had better gain something from it.

Although considering the Blagojevich persona and the general mentality of hardball politics, it wouldn’t have shocked me in the least if Blagojevich would have demanded some extravagant “price” for consideration – only to turn around and give the appointment to somebody else!

Which makes the whole idea of this position being “sold” to the highest bidder seem a bit ludicrous.
JACKSON: Conduct unbecoming?

But that is what many people want to believe – although I generally find that the most vociferous of the Blagojevich critics are people who didn’t like him in the first place. Which means they’re just happy to have something else to criticize him with – instead of the usual old partisan trash-talk.

AS FOR JACKSON, there are those people who are convinced that the only real injustice taking place these days is that federal prosecutors seem to have closed this particular corruption case WITHOUT filing any criminal charges against the congressman from Illinois’ 2nd Congressional district.

Those people want Jesse, Jr., heading to jail just like Milorod – who will get to spend Tuesday making his personal statement and will learn on Wednesday just how close to that 15- to 20-year prison term recommendation U.S. District Judge James Zagel will go along with.

I’m willing to bet now that Zagel’s sentence will be closer to that figure than the 4-year term that defense attorneys say would make more sense. We’ll have to leave it up to appeals courts to determine whether or not prosecutors are being too overzealous in this particular case.

But Blagojevich isn’t the only one having a depressing weekend (this being his last one as a free man who won’t be required to identify himself by a number instead of name).

JACKSON IS GETTING his own reminders of how twisted this affair has become.

For while prosecutors are not seeking criminal charges against him, the House Ethics Committee said Friday it is not about to drop the matter.

Jackson’s Congress colleagues have been investigating the matter off-and-on, and says now it is going to continue its investigation. After all, he might not have committed a crime, but Jackson may still have engaged in conduct unbecoming a member of Congress.

Although the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Jackson said in a letter than he “acted honorably” in his attempts to persuade Blagojevich to let him be the next senator from Illinois.

WHICH WOULD HAVE been a nice boost for him – since he has held his current political post for 17 years now. At age 46, he is the type that would have ambitions and want to work his way up to a post that makes him one of the top people on the local political scene – rather than just someone who is “top dog” in his home neighborhood.

Yet the irony is that Jackson isn’t going to get that bump up. He likely can continue to get re-elected to his congressional seat in coming years (although he’ll probably have to put up with wiseacres like former Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson challenging him every election cycle). By the time that enough time has passed that people will look beyond this, Jackson will be an aging politico.

He may well become mayor of Chicago someday. But he’ll likely be of an age where he’ll be lucky to get one term in office – instead of the couple of decades that might have been possible if he could have run a credible campaign in this year’s elections.

For an ambitious person like Jackson, that might well be the biggest punishment – much more than any future censure by the House of Representatives.


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