It’s entering a new phase. The media circus around the traveling Rod
Blagojevich show has generated national and international awareness of
political corruption in high places. But we already knew that.

And given the rundown of disgraced politicians on the state and
federal level over the past several years (remember the impeachment
trial against President Clinton?) and decades (Nixon stands out), we
know corruption and scandal cut across both political parties and all
appearances of propriety and toughness. Remember Eliot Spitzer’s
ruthless crusade to clean up corruption….which ended with his
disgraceful fall from office when his own misuse of office and illegal
practices came to light.

Watching this drama in Illinois unfold has been amazing and
riveting, yes, but mostly sad. On a human level, it’s been hard to
watch this singular case of defiance and desperation play out.

Yesterday, when the Illinois Senate was holding the final
impeachment hearing, and Rod Blagojevich delivered his final pitch for
exoneration, I checked the Chicago Tribune’s blog as it was updated from the scene throughout the day.

A snip:

Speaking in a voice heavy with sadness and disgust,
state Sen. Terry Link (D-Waukegan) called the impeachment trial “the
saddest week of my political career.”
 
Invoking the debacle at the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, Link said “the whole world is watching Illinois again today.”
 
“Well you know what? I’m sick and tired of it,” Link said.
 
“I’m gonna cast a vote I wish to God I never had to cast,” Link said.
“There’s nothing happy about this. We’re doing something that’s going
to be in history forever.”
 
“But I’m glad we’re going to be opening another chapter in another few hours,” Link concluded.

It’s going to take way longer than that.

Sen. Jeffrey Schoenberg (D-Evanston) and Sen. Randall
Hultgren (R-Winfield) both condemned Blagojevich, but also warned that
the problem of corruption in Illinois runs far deeper than the
governor’s office.
 
“Much of what we’ve heard…does not represent a template of abuse that
developed overnight,” Schoenberg said. “Nor are the participants solely
affiliated with one political party. It may have grown exponentially in
these past six years, but those seeds, my friends, were sown long ago.”
 
Hultgren said this is only the beginning of “rooting out corruption and wrongdoing in our government.”
 
“I believe our state government must enter rehab,” Hultgren said. “Moral rehabilititation.”

They can join the others who are either there, or should be.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....