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National Editorial & Columnists

Blagojevich just can’t stay quiet

To borrow a classic phrase, we’ve got this thing and it’s golden.


Sadly, it’s something former Gov. Rod Blagojevich can’t seem to comprehend.

Blago, perhaps better known as inmate 40892-424, had managed to avoid seeking the limelight for the past 16 months that he has been in federal lockup.

That changed this week, when attorneys for the disgraced head of the state filed a roughly 100-page document with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. It outlines the reasons he wants either his conviction overturned or his 14-year sentence lightened.

Federal prosecutors have 30 days to prepare a response. It shouldn’t take that long to write “you have to be kidding,” provided they can stop laughing long enough.

Blagojevich challenges the length of his sentence and also continues to maintain his innocence on the most serious charge – seeking to profit off the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama when he was first elected president.

“The record shows that Blagojevich’s proposed exchange was an arm’s length political deal, described by Blagojevich as a political ‘horse trade,’” according to the appeal. It contends there was nothing illegal “because the political deal proposed by Blagojevich was a proper and common exchange under our democratic system of government.”

Oh, it gets better: Whatever people think Blagojevich was doing, the appeal maintains, he was doing only because it was in the best interest of the public.

He also blames the judge, accusing him of being biased for making decisions that did not help the Blagojevich side of the case, such as excluding most of the 70 secret recordings made during the investigation that led to his arrest in December 2008.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because it follows the same essential arrogant course of argument defense attorneys used 2 years ago during the trial that led to Blagojevich’s conviction on 14 counts of wire fraud, six conspiracy and attempted extortion counts, one count of attempted bribery, and one count of making false statements.

He has served about 2 years of his sentence in an Englewood, Colo., federal prison.

In the scheme of sentencing, Blagojevich’s is surprisingly long – former Gov. George Ryan served 6½ years on racketeering and fraud convictions before being released. But perhaps that is what it takes to send the message to corrupt politicians in the state that it simply isn’t worth it to go down the dark path. Perhaps it also is what it takes to get the message through to Blagojevich, who treated the charges against him as a joke to the point he was whisked away to prison.

In a way, it’s less surprising the flamboyant former governor has appealed and more surprising it took this long. He craves the spotlight, and he was probably pulling out his finely styled hair over the isolation.

More than that, in Blagojevich’s mind, he remains an innocent man. The rest of us know better.

We hope the court sees through it all and keeps him safe, secure – and silent.

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