The second day of Rod Blagojevich's sentencing hearing begins momentarily. Day one was not a good one for Blago, as Judge Zagel pushed back on everything from the alleged peer pressure the governor faced to whether he came from "nothing." Day two has already begun in an electric fashion, as noted in a preliminary tweet from Natasha Korecki. Stay tuned for highlights—Blagojevich may take the stand today, as a weary state wonders what poet he will cite in his defense. I'm thinking "Charge of the Light Brigade," with the House as the Russian army. Again, @IdalmyCarrera, @Annie1221, @WCIASteve, @NatashaKorecki, @Ward_Room, and @hpennebaker are all great to follow. Scroll down for Storify updates.
Update: Blagojevich's own argument for leniency is basically 1) I love my family 2) I didn't intend to do anything illegal. The first may be compelling but is not, in itself, interesting. The second I might actually believe him on; I expanded on it at some length in a post awhile back:
And they are, in some cases, very fine points. Some of the charges are based on exchanges that make wire fraud out to be a practically metaphysical question. Blagojevich discussing his "[bedroom epithet] golden" Senate appointment resulted in my favorite line from the entire trial, in which the subtleties of political horse-trading versus fraud collapse into a singularity:
SCOFIELD: I do, but this, this, we're not talking as part of discussions for anything else.
BLAGOJEVICH: Well, it's unsaid. You understand what I'm sayin'?
That's Blagojevich for you: "let me be explicit about how I cannot be explicit." For all the idiotic things our ex-governor has said throughout his exile, that line is worthy of Scorsese. A Scorsese rough cut, anyway.
We know that this is how politics works: you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. As Carol Felsenthal put it yesterday: "[R]esist the urge to make money by selling Obama’s senate seat, and not push for payback in the form of a cushy job as ambassador or cabinet officer or foundation head…. Then do what retired governors, congressmen, senators have always done: Take a job in the government relations (i.e. lobbying) department of a law firm—no complex legal skills required, just an up-to-date Rolodex."
Blago was too ambitious, too paranoid, or both, to do that (and it's worth recalling how little power, respect, and popularity Blagojevich had later in his term). If you wanted to make a psychological argument for it, you could link it back to his defense's testimony yesterday, about his working-class upbringing: "Mr. Blagojevich was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth … it gave him a certain drive. It gave him a certain insecurity" (via). Or it could just be his personality; not everyone who's overreached in the way Blagojevich did grew up poor, and not everyone who grew up poor and came into power overreached. But when Blago, his defense, and the prosecution talk about "lines," I do think Blagojevich was trying to toe them, and as with so many things, did so clumsily.
Photograph: Chicago Tribune