If you’re looking to get a presidential pardon, the new strategy seems to be to go on Fox News, suck up to the president, and attack his enemies (President Obama, the Justice Department, etc).
At least, that’s the strategy disgraced former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s wife, Patti, seems to be employing. This past weekend, the controversial wife appeared on Jeanine Pirro’s show (a Trump favorite) to talk about how hard it has been for her family to be separated from the former governor. Yes, of course, it’s hard on the family. But you could do the same kind of sob story about almost anyone—guilty or not—who is convicted of a crime and goes to jail. Should we pardon them all?
“The same people that went after Mr. D’Souza are the same people that went after my husband—the same people that are going after the president, now—it’s the same M.O. And, you know, they’re using their offices to try to undo elections,” Patti Blogojevich averred, suggesting that this is all some “deep state” conspiracy to dethrone duly-elected truth-tellers and outsiders.
Luckily, however, President Trump has the power to unilaterally overcome the evil-doers. “Our system of government [has] a system of checks and balances for a reason, and sometimes the courts and these prosecutors get it wrong...and it takes a strong leader like President Trump to right those wrongs,” continued Mrs. Blagojevich.
Pirro then went on to suggest that Hot Rod was being punished for “just kind of practicing politics.”
If this doesn’t quite sound right, it may be because you have a brain and a memory.
“I’ve got this thing and it’s fucking golden, and I'm not just giving it up for fucking nothing,” Blago declared in one conversation about how to fill Obama’s Senate seat.
Right. That sounds like perfectly normal politics to me.
What Pirro is obviously trying to do is lay a predicate for undermining the Mueller probe—and possibly pardoning anyone it ensnares.
I’m not sure the narrative is as clean as Pirro might want. Like the recently pardoned D’Souza, who admitted guilt, upon being sentenced, Blago said: “The jury convicted me and they convicted me because those were my actions…I am responsible. I caused it all. I’m not blaming anybody. I was the governor, and I should have known better. And I am just so incredibly sorry.”
Wait, how could he be sorry when he’s the victim of Obama minions who were trying to undo his election? Or maybe that’s just what his wife is saying in order to make Trump happy (and spring her hubby)?
Regardless, if Blago is pardoned, it will signal that (a) celebrity status, (b) access to Fox News, and (c) one’s willingness to be cast as a victim of Obama-era prosecutorial overreach are the necessary ingredients. In other words, anyone who shares those three traits with Trump would qualify for forgiveness.
In fairness, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin has argued that Blago’s term should be commuted—that 14 years is too long. This strikes me as a reasonable argument, but it’s altogether different from the one being advanced by Pirro and Patti Blagojevich.
Trump is gonna Trump, and there’s not much we can do about that. But a remaining question is whether conservatives (and here, I’m not sure Pirro even qualifies) will embrace Blago as some sort of hero—or, at least, as some sort of martyr.
Keep in mind, Blago was a Democrat. This was a Democratic scandal. Democrats should own Blago. But if history is any predictor, conservatives have a way of rehabilitating the most un-conservative (and unsavory) people after they’ve been abandoned by everyone else.
In a 2014 column titled “The Enemy of My Enemy Is My Friend: Why Conservatives Are Always Defending The Indefensible,” I described how people like Ted Nugent end up getting embraced by conservatives not because of their merits but just because they are famous and make the right enemies. Blago is merely the latest example of this weird trend. In case you’re keeping score at home, Trey Gowdy and Jeff Sessions are RINO “enemies of the people.” Rod Blagojevich is decent family man and an innocent victim of Obama.
Blagojevich is not a conservative (not that that should matter in terms of his gaining a pardon). Nor is he a victim, nor is he a sympathetic figure. What this means is that he will probably not only be granted a pardon, but he probably has a shot at his own Fox News show. When a corrupt Illinois Democratic politician becomes a conservative cause célèbre, you know something is wrong. Conservatives can, and should, do better.