January 28th, 2009
03:18 PM ET

Rooting for Rod

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Jack M. Burkman
Political Strategist

As a conservative Republican and former Whitewater investigator, I should be the last person to support embattled Illinois Governor Blagojevich. But he is getting a raw deal in every sense and the time has come to rally to his defense.

First, Senate Democrats stepped onto dangerous ground when they seriously considered not seating Senator Roland Burris in December. The seating of a state's Federal representative is the single most important component of the American democracy. Why should Illinois remain in the union if Washington won't seat its senators? To suggest that Burris would not be seated simply because a prosecutor had made allegations against the governor is downright crazy. Is this to suggest that any time any governor is under a cloud, he loses his powers of appointment without even a fair trial? The potential in this precedent for disrupting the Union is mammoth. What if one group of states decides to "gang up" on another and not seat their senators? We as a people did not grasp the importance of the events of December. I commend Sen. Dianne Feinstein for having the guts and the intellect to step out and break the logjam.

Second, the current impeachment proceeding is beyond laughable. Blagojevich was quite justified in spending the day with CNN and The View. The Illinois legislature is moving well in advance of the criminal proceeding, which is monstrously inappropriate given that the federal prosecutor is the only person with the relevant information. Patrick Fitzgerald could not cooperate with the lynch mob in Springfield even if he wanted to. The only evidence that could possibly be presented at this "impeachment trial" is rumor and speculation offered by pundits. This is the ultimate in trial by media frenzy, worse than even some of the events of the 1990's.

The governor did a stellar job on national media of making the impeachment proceedings look like a kangaroo court. He was poised, clear, funny and even wearing a Brioni tie. When one is being tried in the media, he must fight back in the media.

Which brings us to Patrick Fitzgerald himself, the media-seeking federal prosecutor. It may indeed be the case that Blagojevich is guilty. But based on tapes presented we are quite a long way from that conclusion. We have heard Blagojevich blowing off steam in his bedroom at midnight and have also heard about various fundraisers seeking to assemble funds on behalf of the Jackson family and others. Bribery, much less other crimes, is a high standard, and a prosecutor must put A and B together. We are not even close to that. For a legislature to move on impeachment at this stage of infancy is criminal. If we arrested everyone who said crazy things to their wives and girlfriends late at night, half the political world would be in jail.

I'm one Republican who's rooting hard for Blago.

Editor's Note: Jack Burkman is the founder and president of Burkman Associates LLC, and is a lawyer, political consultant, and strategist. He was a former Whitewater investigator and was a media strategist for 'Fred Thompson for President,' in 2007.

Filed under: Raw Politics • Rod Blagojevich
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Linda, Illinois

    Ah, poor baby BLAGO......gettin such a raw deal. Well Mr. Burkman, if you are so impressed with BLAGO, I'll bet the people of IL would be happy to send him too you in a tin box!

    January 28, 2009 at 10:37 pm |
  2. Bobbi

    Isn't this situation un-American? This guy rubbed the Illinois House members the wrong way for years and they want him out. I'm not for or against, but he should be able to call witnesses.

    Put yourself in that position. Is this America? Very scary.

    January 28, 2009 at 10:23 pm |
  3. jim Fallbrook CA

    I always thought grounds for impeachment would include some type of criminal charges. I don't believe he has been charged with anything at this time. It would be quite ironic if Blagojevich turns out to be innocent after everything.What would happen if the Illinois Congress impeaches him. if he goes to the trial in real court and is acquitted, does he get reinstated? At this time he has not been charged. I agree with Jack M. Burkman. He is getting a raw deal.

    January 28, 2009 at 10:05 pm |
  4. Brandi - bottom of the boot

    The seating of a state’s Federal representative is the single most important component of the American democracy.

    i thought the single most important component of the American democracy was the whole voting thing?????

    January 28, 2009 at 8:36 pm |
  5. Teresa, OH

    Dont worry about Rod, Mr. Burkman, the devil takes care of his own.

    January 28, 2009 at 4:25 pm |
  6. Annie Kate

    It would be quite ironic if Blagojevich turns out to be innocent after everything that has been said and done. What happens if the Illinois Congress convicts him and ousts him from office and then when he goes to the trial in real court (if the case is even prosecuted) he is acquitted – does he get his office back? Or his impeachment expunged? What happens if this is really much to do about nothing ??

    January 28, 2009 at 3:35 pm |