Rod Blagojevich emerged from prison and returned to the comforts of kith, kin and a microphone.
Yep, there he was last Wednesday, his first morning as a freed convict, freshly shaved and nicked by a sharp civilian razor, standing outside his Ravenswood Manor home on Chicago’s North Side.
He was holding a news conference, seeking attention and adulation just like in the old days before he became a felonious ex-governor, guilty of multiple counts of corruption.
Based on that performance, we can say two things with certainty about this disgraced pol: He didn’t lose his smooth-talking ways while incarcerated, nor did he find humility. He made clear he isn’t retaking a place in the public eye so he can acknowledge his wrongdoing. He’s a victim.
And he has some things to say about that.
Quoting Scripture, thanking the Rev. Jesse Jackson, thanking President Donald Trump for the commutation of his sentence, offering wisdom he says he gleaned during long nights staring out a barred prison window, Blagojevich was in full command of his bounteous oratory skills.
It’s as if he had been preparing for this return to the spotlight for years. Perhaps he was. He sounded like he was campaigning for redemption, or public office, or both.
Thankfully, he can’t seek state or municipal elected office in Illinois because he was impeached and convicted. But watch out, voters, he can run for federal office.
Blagojevich said he hoped to draw on the experience of his imprisonment to work on behalf of people who have been wrongfully incarcerated or oversentenced for nonviolent offenses.
He also had a message for his fellow underdogs: “You may be down, all your hopes may have seemed to disappear. The road you have to travel is a long one, and home, that’s where you want to be, is so far away you can’t even see the flicker of a light at the end of the tunnel. But don’t give up.”
Those are fine enough sentiments, given credence because Blagojevich has been through a long, despairing odyssey — one he deserved.
Prison is punishment, and a lonely place. So here’s the thing. It’s doubtful at this point that Blagojevich will ever face up to his wrongdoing. He couldn’t bring himself to acknowledge culpability when being sentenced to prison, so he’s unlikely to do it now.
But he still has abilities and notoriety as a fallen public figure.
We’d much prefer Blagojevich never try to restart his political career.
But there are ways for him to make contributions to the greater good.
He could work on criminal justice issues on behalf of advocacy groups or find ways to help social service agencies. He could lecture, or minister, or serve others at a community center. Blagojevich has talents. Every former governor or member of Congress does.
He has energy. He has time.
Here’s hoping Blagojevich finds a way forward as a contributing member of society.
But let him do so as quietly as possible.
— Los Angeles Times