Jan Schakowsky and Harry Reid: Shut the Fuck Up.
Instead of evoking still-fresh memories of Eliot Spitzer, perhaps we ought to, instead, be thinking of the Valerie Plame case. Because what does the arrest of Rod Blagojevich and Valerie Plame have in common? Patrick Fitzgerald.
Arrested by the FBI just hours ago, the Illinois governor has been accused by federal prosecutors of corruption and influence peddling connected to his naming the successor to President-Elect Barack Obama. However proper the relationship was or is between our next President and the Governor, this stain of scandal will follow the Obama administration at least well into its first year.
Forgotten by the Democratic party, especially leaders on Capitol Hill, is the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. It's entirely proper for the Illinois state legislature to pass a bill calling for a special election because any successor to Mr. Obama is going to automatically lack any credibility whatsoever. But Democrats at the federal level aren't just stopping there. Because Harry Reid is already screaming that the allegations against the Governor, "are appalling and represent as serious a breach of the public trust as I have ever heard."
Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), ordinarily a level-headed liberal Democrat, went to even further extremes, uniting with the Illinois Republican Party in demanding that Blagojevich resign immediately before he's even arraigned. You would think that senior lawmakers, of all people, would be familiar with the term "innocent until proven guilty."
To both of them I say, Shut the fuck up and tend to the bigger house that's also in flames.
It's a worthy concept that's apparently been the impetus these past several years when these same Democrats have dragged their feet when high crimes and misdemeanors such as the Valerie Plame outing and lying us into war with Iraq were happening right under their noses. It's a lofty ideal that goes all the way back to the Magna Carta that had inspired the Democratic Party into tempered criticism if not outright silence regarding the all-but-obvious crimes against humanity committed by this outgoing administration.
If Blagojevich is guilty, then he deserves to share a cell with his predecessor George Ryan. But even if he is guilty, one has to wonder why Capitol Hill lawmakers are calling for the ouster of a state official (which could and probably will be perceived as a circling of the wagons around Obama) while the greatest war criminal since Adolph Hitler not only hatched his war crimes with their blessing but was even funded by them. There's a certain disturbing lack of symmetry between whatever crimes of which Blagojevich may or may not be guilty and the "political crime wave" carried out by Bush, Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld, etc.
Bush lied and people died, over a period of years, in a multiplicity of ways, even outing a secret agent and compromising national security as a result, muddying the waters so successfully that even a top-notch federal prosecutor like Fitzgerald couldn't muster much more than obstruction of justice charges against anyone higher up than Scooter Libby.