In the end, Rod Blagoevich was a lousy politician and a dumb, inept crook.
"The harm is the erosion of public trust in government."
Those were Judge James Zagel's words to the former Illinois Governor as he handed down a sentence of 14 years, one of the stiffest ever for corruption by a public official.
Zagel's words were a rebuke to the defense team's notion that even if "Blago" is guilty there was no harm since he never profited from his crimes.
Think about that.
Rod Blagoevich will be 67 years old when he gets out of the federal pen, convicted on 18 counts of corruption including failed attempts to shake down Chicago's Children's Memorial Hospital and "sell" Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat for $1.5 million, a seat Blago infamously described on a Fed wire tap as "f*cking golden."
But Blago never profited from his schemes. He couldn't get them off the ground any more than a turkey racing down a runway.
You could say it was a fall from grace if the guy wasn't on the take from the day he took office. One has the sense that Blago schemed to get more Doritos in grade school.
But in the end, he couldn't seal the deal.
Blago's saga reminds me of the Woody Allen film "Small Time Crooks," where Allen plays a bumbling burglar determined to burrow underneath a bank building in order to rob it. With the help of Tracey Ullman, he sets up a "cover" business where Ullman bakes cookies in order to distract from the jackhammers and digging.
Problem is the cookies are a huge hit with every cop in New York.
Think of Blago as a Slavic Woody Allen.
As a politician, he's no Tom Kane.
Tom Kane is the fictitious Chicago mayor played by Kelsey Grammer in the new TV series "Boss."
Grammer is great in the role of machine emperor, a suspendered, fire breathing dragon in a show often over the top. In the first episode, Mayor Kane manages to drag an alderman around his office by his ear (literally) and have one of his henchman drug a doctor who may have leaked information about Hizzoner to the media.
In future episodes I can see him throwing a union leader down the stairs and sucker punching a boy scout.
Blago is no Boss. On tape, he's a foul mouthed brat, but hardly intimidating. In person he dresses the part in fancy suits, hollow ones at that. I picture those on the receiving end of his rants trying hard not to laugh.
I certainly can't picture him dragging a state legislator across the floor.
Or a fellow inmate.