Opening arguments were heard yesterday in the federal corruption trial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Blagojevich stands accused of attempting to sell President Barack Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat.
Blagojevich and wife Patti have recently portrayed themselves as sympathetic figures on reality television, he on “Celebrity Apprentice” and she on “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!”
Both attempts have worked to a degree. About Patti’s on-air stint in a Costan Rican jungle Huffington Post noted:
It was image changing, too, for Blagojevich, who came off as a down-to-earth, well-liked mom. Before the show, Blagojevich was mostly known for being a foul-mouthed political spouse caught on federal wiretaps prosecutors had made of her husband.
Rod even managed to win over Donald Trump. When Trump fired Rod in episode four because he didn’t know how to use modern communication methods (texting, e-mail) to communicate with his team, the Chicago Sun-Times reported:
Donald Trump was hesitant to fire Blagojevich, saying he thought the impeached ex-governor was afraid to offend potential jurors while competing.
“I think Rod is being overly nice because he has some pretty big things to do when we’re finished with this,” Trump said. “I think he’s in a very tough position. I think you’re a guy with great courage.”
Oh, please. As governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich was anything but courageous, taking inordinate pleasure in picking on people way smaller than himself. On the life issue in particular, Blagojevich was a bully for death.
In 2005, the issue of state public funding for embryonic stem-cell research was big. California had just passed Proposition 71, which authorized $3 billion in taxpayer funding for ESCR (estimated final cost per the California Legislative Analyst: $6 billion).
In Illinois, the Democrat-controlled legislature had twice failed to pass similar legislation.
But Blagojevich surprised all by taking matters into his own hands and signing an executive order, making Illinois the first and only state to date to authorize controversial ESCR public funding without legislative or public involvement.
To do this, Blagojevich hid $10 million in a budget line item “for grants and related expenses of hospitals and universities for scientific research.”
Blagojevich’s treachery angered everyone, even the mainstream media, which went on to skewer him in editorials, for instance The Daily Illini:
[I]t takes some narcissism to make a call like this. …
Blagojevich has made a bold decision. But it does not appear that he considered the voice of anyone other than himself in this case. He was elected to make decisions on the behalf of the citizens of Illinois, but he appears to be making decisions based solely upon his beliefs. There is no excuse for circumventing the legislature and deviously allocating money from the budget to further his personal agenda. …
Regardless of what the executive order brings in the future, Blagojevich’s dereliction should not be forgiven or forgotten.
No worries there.
To rationalize his actions, Blagojevich famously quipped at the time, “Anytime you do what is morally right … however you get there is immaterial.”
No clearer statement could be made that the ends justify the means.
Also in 2005, Blagojevich filed an “emergency rule,” making Illinois the first state to force pharmacists to dispense emergency contraceptives “without delay” even if in violation of their consciences. Emergency contraceptives may cause abortions.
Standing with Blagojevich when he made his announcement were NARAL President Nancy Keenan and then-Planned Parenthood President Karen Pearl.
On Lou Dobb’s CNN program, Blagojevich compared the moral quandary of prescribing chemical death to preborns to a vegan selling hamburger:
To suggest that somehow pharmacists should be treated differently would be to suggest, for example, that when you go to your supermarket and the clerk is checking out your food, and that clerk may be a vegetarian, that when you check through the counter to pay your bill, he’s checking the asparagus and the potatoes and the pasta, but when he gets to the ground sirloin, says: I’m sorry, I have a moral objection to meat; I’m not going to sell you the hamburger.
The fact is, if he can’t do his job, don’t work there. And when it comes to these pharmacists who are making political statements, they can choose to fill their prescription and do their job, or they can work at a pharmacy that doesn’t stock birth control.
Yet I’m willing to bet Blagojevich wouldn’t call Muslims’ refusal to eat pork a “political statement.”
After Blagojevich made his “emergency rule,” Walgreens immediately fired four pharmacists who refused to prescribe the morning-after pill, and three other pharmacies immediately filed a lawsuit.
Five years later, that lawsuit is ongoing, and Blagojevich is still named as a party. Currently, the state has a preliminary injunction ordered to keep it from forcing the plaintiffs to dispense emergency contraceptives.
Blagojevich may have been involved in other hanky-panky. In May 2007, Planned Parenthood Chicago Area requested and received a bond rating as a nonprofit organization from the Illinois Finance Authority that allowed it to borrow at a cheaper rate to build its Aurora abortion mill. I smell a rat.
Who knows what collateral damage will be meted in Blagojevich’s corruption trial.
But even if justice isn’t served for Blagojevich’s crimes against preborns now, it will be served eventually. And at least he has been stopped.
Meanwhile, don’t expend one ounce of sympathy for the guy.