Blagojevich Might Skate, Pt. II
Soon after the Blago complaint was announced by Patrick Fitzgerald, I described it as a unique case, with profound implications for future lobbyists and politicians in the event of a conviction. In reading the complaint, there was no clear evidence of actual crime, contrary to what was being said in the media. Crime was intended, yes, but not consummated, and intended malfeasance is conjoined with US politics like a...you actually don't want to know my mental imagery right now. Really. Point being, Nixon wasn't impeached and jailed and other pols weren't nailed for wanting to be criminals, but for being criminals, past-tense.
I'm trying not to admire Blagojevich, uncouth as he is, corrupt as he may be. Yet he took cool appraisal of a foregone situation, stood up and told his accusors to go *$(* themselves, and professed to go about his job while circling the pay-to-play wagons. The circling must have been pretty effective, and the guy knows how to make the best of a coming impeachment (Update: since starting to post this, Illinois reps voted 114-1 to impeach).
Next, he lawfully selected Roland Burris, his (African-American) former fund raiser to fill Obama's seat, then sat back to watch Majority Leader Harry Reid light his own ass on fire, along with 50 of his Senateers. (Everyone has a talent. It doesn't mean they have to use it. And as Reid's Empty Threat Syndrome progresses, I reflect on the rising stock of Biden as Veep, he being President of the Senate and all.) They disgraced themselves by ignoring various laws, case precedents, and Constitutions to vow to not seat Burris--Marcy Wheeler at Empty Wheel has the nitty legal gritties on it, as usual. Obama himself narrowly avoided broiling his own ass, belatedly endorsing Burris. The disapproval and hokum is understandable, to a degree. A likely felon gets to name a Senator by decree. But haven't we seen enough of Congress and the White House trying to wriggle out of the law, sometimes merely on the basis of some compliant professor's opinion?
At the end of their 30-day time limit on January 6th, Patrick Fitzgerald's team failed to file an indictment, and instead asked the judge for a 90-day extension. 90 days! Doesn't sound like they've got their act together, or maybe much of a case. And that's coming from me, one of Fitzgerald's big admirers. He put Blago's predecessor in Illinois, George Ryan, behind bars for 6-1/2 years, and somehow managed to get Dick Cheney's long-time assistant convicted.
One would think that Fitz's best chance of making the conspiracy charges stick is to go back to the Chicago Style Politics crowd he's already put behind bars, and start playing carrots and baseball bats. He also will squeeze or indict somebody else in the Blago ring during the 90-day extension period (assuming it's granted). Even so, how easy can it be to get a conspiracy case to stick, when the conspiracy demonstrably failed? The positives here, and they're big positives, are that an effort to sell a Senator's seat failed because the takers were too cautious, Team Obama didn't play ball, and Blago's already been convicted in the biggest court of all: Public Opinion. Jail time would be gravy.