THE BLOG
09/11/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Leave Fitzgerald Alone

Abner Mikva thinks Patrick Fitzgerald shot his mouth off in talking to reporters the day that Rod Blagojevich was led from his home in shackles.

The former congressman, former federal judge, former White House counsel and former everything spoke recently at a panel on public corruption cases. He criticized the current federal prosecutor for saying things like Lincoln is rolling over in his grave.

The Sun-Times, in the wake of Mikva's statements on the panel and in remarks Mikva made to reporters afterward, called Fitzgerald for comment. Fitzgerald, not surprisingly, declined.

Who, after all, wants to disagree with someone so well-respected as the venerable Mikva, whose entire career has been gold-plated all the way back to his days as a state legislator?

In fact, the panel moderator, Patrick Collins, the man who put George Ryan in jail, told a story about Mikva trying to volunteer to help elect Adlai Stevenson governor and Paul Douglas senator back in 1948 and being asked by the gruff ward heeler, "Who sent ya?" To which Mikva replied, "Nobody." Which was met with the infamous rejoinder, "We don't want nobody nobody sent."

But Mikva is wrong here and he and others critical of Fitzgerald need to let the prosecutor do his job.

As Collins mentioned, Fitzgerald probably felt he needed to justify to the people of Illinois something so extraordinary as arresting a governor in his home at sunrise.

Remember the context.

Blagojevich is accused of being on a frenzied spree to extort people into contributing to his campaign fund before a more stringent law governing such contributions went into effect.

He also stands accused of trying to peddle a U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder.

None of this is new information, I realize, but I think we lose sight of what was happening and what was on the brink of happening when Fitzgerald stepped in when we criticize him at this late date.

It is, after all, hard enough to prosecute a case against a corrupt governor than it is to try to convict a sitting governor and a sitting U.S. senator, which would have been the case, remember, if, say, Jesse Jackson Jr. had forked over the cash to catapult himself into the upper chamber.

That's why I think it's so interesting when news reports of Ald. Sandi Jackson, the almost-Senator's wife, sounding out a campaign for statewide office are met with silence.

If Illinoisans want to put a stop to the culture of corruption, as they claim in poll after poll that they do, then they have to do something about it.

It's not all up to Fitzgerald. It's not all up to the Collins-led panel that came up with an array of viable ways to try to put a stop to the sleazy insider politics as usual.