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Mari Fagel

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Blagojevich's Pre-Prison Speech: Sincere Goodbye or Campaign Stump?

Posted: 03/15/2012 6:06 pm

Disgraced former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich is now on his way to a Colorado prison to report for his 14-year prison term. Yet, of course, before he left he couldn't miss out on a last opportunity to gloat in the media's spotlight with a bizarre goodbye speech perfectly timed to air live on evening newscasts Wednesday.

When it was first announced Blagojevich would invite reporters outside his home for what was dubbed as a chance to say goodbye, I naively hoped he would use the opportunity to, for once, own up to his mistakes and apologize to the people of Illinois. Yet, as he has proved time and time again, the second the cameras turned on, Blagojevich couldn't resist one last chance to toot his own horn.

"I believe I always, always thought about what was right for the people," Blagojevich said. He then listed off his supposed achievements while serving as governor, including implementing health care coverage for middle-income children, free mammograms and pap smears, and free rides for seniors.

Now, when a politician is running for election it makes sense to list off your own accomplishments while in office. Yet speaking about free mammograms in one sentence and how much he'll miss his family in another just seemed bizarre. Take the first half of his speech on its own, and it sounds exactly like a campaign stump speech, complete with the obligatory "I took on special interests" and "I never raised the income tax" sound bites.

Blagojevich is still living in his own fantasy world, where he has convinced himself, somehow, that trying to sell President Obama's senate seat for campaign cash was apparently "right for the people." Even after a jury convicted him on 18 counts, he is still convinced everything he did "was on the right side of the law."

The only time I witnessed a sincere apology by the man was when he tried to ensure a lenient sentence by telling Judge James Zagel in December that "I have nobody to blame but myself for my stupidity" and said he was "extremely sorry" for his crimes. Yet Blagojevich was back to insisting his own innocence Wednesday, making me realize his apology in December was nothing more than a fake and insincere attempt to get the judge to take it easy on him.

His own ego is so self-inflated that even as he's preparing to serve time for his crimes, he is still vowing to appeal, telling the crowd, "While my faith in things has sometimes been challenged, I still believe this is America, this is a country that is governed by the rule of law, that the truth ultimately will prevail."

Yet, the truth in his mind and the actual truth are two markedly different things. No one can deny, except for him, that he indeed tried to exchange the president's former senate seat for money. FBI wiretaps caught him on tape describing the move as "f**king golden."

While I was disappointed Blagojevich failed to apologize and take accountability for his wrongdoings, I mostly just felt bad for him after the speech. Serving 14 years behind bars will likely be much harder when he is steadfastly convinced of his innocence. He is so delusional that he truly believes he did nothing wrong, so instead of spending his time locked up focused on improving himself, he'll likely be plotting his escape, which will only drive him crazier than he already is.

 

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