I’m expecting a lot from disgraced former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s federal corruption trial, for which the jury selection started today. As the Chicago Tribune reports, this trial will ‘feature prosecutors feeding voters a steady reminder of the worst elements of Illinois’ political culture — allegations that money, insider influence and personal interest drive public policy in this state.’
Charges range from ‘trying to shake down a children’s hospital for campaign cash to trying to peddle President Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat for profit.’ Although most believe that Blagojevich is guilty as charged – and of more – few expect him to go down without putting up a fight. It’s likely he’s got quite some dirt on other Chicago politicians and that he’s willing to throw it at them. Let’s hope so, at least.
Of course this is exactly what many Illinois politicians – and especially Democrats – fear. Blagojevich isn’t exactly known for being prudent. He’ll do anything he’ll consider necessary to defend himself, even disgracing his fellow brothers in arms.
Blagojevich was succeeded as governor by Pat Quinn, who twice served as his running mate. Will Quinn get through this trial unscathed? How about other powerful Illinois Democrats such as House Speaker Michael Madigan? Then there are former Chicago congressman and current White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and his top deputy, Illinois’ senior senator, Dick Durbin. Blagojevich’s defense team contends these top Democrats ‘can show that the former governor’s conversations about the Senate seat were political horse trading and not a crime.’ And last but not least, what will the former governor say about President Obama himself? Lest we forget, Obama and Blagojevich were longtime political allies.
In other words, whether they like it or not, all these individuals, and even the White House itself, will be dragged into this. And where there are politicians, there usually is dirt. Especially if they’re from Illinois.