My fascination with Rod Blagojevich knows no bounds. I used to live a couple blocks from him and would wave as he, inexplicably, jogged down the middle of the street. At parties—the ones I’m still invited to—I’m happy to find an opportunity to steer the conversation to Illinois’s disgraced former governor. And I once presented him with a magazine cover mocking his corrupt past and reality-show heel turn, which he signed: “Jonathan, you are F-ing golden!”
So I get it! I understand the urge to sympathize with, and maybe even cuddle, the former politician whose tradmark mane has turned white in a Colorado federal prison. We’ve all been milked for sympathy as Blago files appeal after appeal, trying to get out of the pen after serving a little more than a third of his 14-year sentence. Maybe you remember him doing his Elvis impression, or getting a noogie from Joy Behar on The View, and you think, “Come on, he wasn’t that bad.”
No way. It’s important to remember that it wasn’t just his giddiness over having the statutory power to appoint someone to Barack Obama’s Senate seat and his alleged plans to use that authority as leverage for himself that landed him in the clink. Federal prosecutors also documented how Blago tried to shake down an executive at then Children’s Memorial Hospital for a $50,000 campaign contribution in exchange for his providing $8 million in state health funds. So not only was Obama’s seat “golden,” but apparently reimbursements for treating sick kids were as well.
And bear in mind that governors around the country face the prospect of filling Senate seats if more harassers in Congress’s upper chamber tumble; we probably shouldn’t treat Blagojevich’s quid pro quo corruption as suddenly less serious. Your cute little #FreeBlago Twitter campaign is as pathetic as the governor’s turn on Celebrity Apprentice. Just stop. v