This is what happens when you go from Governor of Illinois to reality TV star to defendant in the dock:
Ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich told jurors all about his life and blue collar roots while testifying at his corruption retrial in Chicago on Thursday. Blagojevich is expected to return to the stand on Friday morning.
Introducing himself to jurors, he said, “I used to be your governor” and “I’m here today to tell you the truth.”
The testimony early in the day was mostly autobiographical. In the afternoon, Blagojevich made specific references to comments made, and schemes alleged, by previous witnesses.
Blagojevich’s voice broke when he spoke about his deceased parents. He later choked up when he began to tell the story of how he met his wife, Patti. That prompted Judge James Zagel to send the jury out of the room, and call for a lunch break.
Earlier, Blagojevich addressed his days as an undergrad at Northwestern University. He told jurors that he often felt inferior compared to other students. But he said he got good grades, and was a history buff.
In talking about Winston Churchill and how leaders made decisions, the ex-governor offered a preview of his defense to the corruption charges he faces, some of which are based off secretly taped phone calls with his aides.
Blagojevich said, like Churchill, he believes in “full discussion,” that leaders “should be free” to bounce ideas off advisers, to “end up in the right place.”
Okay, really? Winston Churchill? So, you get caught with your hand in the cookie jar and you expect us to think of you as the guy who nearly single-handedly steeled the will of the English, Scots and Welsh during the Battle of Britain. The guy who famously said:
The gratitude of every home in our Island, in our Empire, and indeed throughout the world, except in the abodes of the guilty, goes out to the British airmen who, undaunted by odds, unwearied in their constant challenge and mortal danger, are turning the tide of the world war by their prowess and by their devotion. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.
That’s what you’re going to go with?
Nonetheless, despite the overarching political drama (or, perhaps more accurately, melodrama) of today’s testimony, Blago got one thing right – and he expressed it in classic Blago style. With regard to the choice language he used on the infamous tapes government played for the jury, former Governor Goodhair reputedly said:
When I hear myself on those tapes, I sound like a f*cking jerk and I apologize.
Yes, Rod, you do sound like a jerk. And maybe a felon, too.
© 2011 David P. von Ebers. All rights reserved.