The braggadocio and downright impudence of some political crooks before they are convicted often amazes me.
Take the case of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was sentenced Wednesday to 14 years in federal prison for his conviction on 18 felony counts of corruption.
As you’ll recall, Blagojevich was charged in April 2009 with, among other things, trying to sell former U.S. Sen. Barack Obama’s seat to the highest bidder after Obama was elected President.
Here’s what Blagojevich, 54, said at the time that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald announced the charges.
“I’m saddened and hurt, but I am not surprised by the indictment. I am innocent, I now will fight in the courts to clear my name.”
Yes, he would clear his good name! He’d been slandered, don’t you know, and that could not stand.
A year later, perhaps reflecting how dismissive he was of the charges, he appeared as a contestant on Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” TV show.
Then, last year, after a federal jury convicted him of just one count — lying to the FBI — and hung up on 23 other counts, Blagojevich not only turned defiant but goaded Fitzgerald.
“The government threw everything but the kitchen sink at me,” Blagojevich said, “and on every charge but one, they could not prove that I broke any laws except one, a nebulous charge from five years ago.
“We have a prosecutor who has wasted and wanted to spend tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money to take me away from my family and my home.”
Fitzgerald didn’t take the bait and simply said Blagojevich would be retried…The second trial ended in June with his conviction on 17 additional counts.
That brings us to yesterday, when U.S. District Judge James Zagel sentenced Blagojevich.
And what did he say in court, at his sentencing?
“I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on all that’s happened. I’m here convicted of crimes, and I am accepting of it, acknowledge it.”
That prompted Zagel to respond, “It comes late.”
Blagojevich also said:
“I have nobody to blame but myself for my stupidity and actions, words, things that I didn’t that I thought I could do.”
Now, why didn’t Blagojevich temper his comments when he was first charged and again last year after he was convicted on one count?
It goes back to the Achilles’ heel of many a figure in Greek literature — pride, hubris. Blagojevich thought he was above the law; he got a fat head because several million people voted for him and put him in the governor’s office.
He should have read some Greek tragedies; it would have better prepared him for his downfall. Then, again, maybe he did read some Greek tragedies and concluded, “That’ll never happen to me.”
You will see below that my lifelong friend Hubartos vanDrehl — the Prince of Paonia, the Mystic of the Mountains — comments on the respective hairdos of Mr. Blagojevich and Mr. Trump. It is only fitting, in my opinion, that I show you a photo of Mr. vanDrehl’s inimitable ‘do…