The Corner

Merry Fitzmas in Illinois!

I had just finished a piece on former Republican Gov. George Ryan’s crimes and his unworthiness of a pardon, and now Gov. Blagojevich (D.) gets himself arrested. Blagojevich’s crimes, if proven true, appear to be much, much worse. There will be tons to say later about Chicago’s extreme corruption, to which Barack Obama was always willing to turn a blind eye. We will learn quite a bit more about Chicago and Springfield from Blagojevich’s downfall in the next few months.

But for now, two important observations. First, no one wants a Senate appointment from a man accused of selling the seat. We may need a change of governor soon. There is no law in Illinois providing for situations in which the governor temporarily gives up his powers. The general assembly would have to pass such a law. An impeachment is probably more likely. Blagojevich could appoint someone from jail, but I don’t think the Senate would seat such an appointment under these circumstances.

Second, by arresting Blagojevich before Inauguration Day, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has done the one thing that absolutely prevents Barack Obama from removing him from his position. As he has worked doggedly to send corrupt politicians (many of them Obama’s friends and political allies) to prison Fitzgerald has arguably become the most important man in Illinois politics.

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