BLAGO

The cover of Chicago magazine featuring former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

CHICAGO MAGAZINE

Rod Blagojevich continues to astonish even five years after becoming federal prison inmate 40892-424.

The former governor’s exhaustive profile in Chicago Magazine released Monday, his first since being incarcerated, paints a man seemingly still coming to terms with his 14-year prison sentence for corruption and trying to peddle President Barack Obama’s former U.S. Senate seat. The melodrama is characteristically thick.

“The loneliness is still there today. But it’s different. The sharpness of the pain that was so intense at the beginning—where sometimes you felt you would never feel anything but that pain—has with the passing of all these years, slowly and imperceptibly aged into a sadness that has found a home inside of me. It is beneath the surface and not as intense, but it’s always with me,” Blagojevich is quoted as saying.

Then, at once, we are treated to vintage self-admiration Blagojevich – that he says he’s read Nelson Mandela’s biography twice and that he sought to address prison racial issues “in the spirit of Dr. King and his efforts to end segregation.”

And in another quote from our 40th governor: “Invariably, late at night, with the lights off and only one prison guard on duty, a Hobbesian state of nature emerged.”

Ugh.

It’s the same old Blagojevich.

Listen, we strongly believe in the ability to right one’s life and mend transgressions. We believe in second chances. And we know Blagojevich’s family, especially his children, have had to weather incredible pain because of him.

And yet reading the words of a man who brought so much embarrassment – the late-night TV appearances, the endless posturing, the claims of innocence – makes it all that much more real again. We are reminded of the shame.

Sure, the ex-governor, who now is 60, seemed to have remorse in his interview, but he also said he plans to take his case to the U.S. Supreme Court. He still says he’s been wronged. And so, even being housed in a low-security federal prison in Littleton, Colorado, he’s still the same Blagojevich.

He’s remarkably consistent. Even among the big egos of Illinois politics, Blagojevich, a former amateur boxer, was in a league of his own. He’s never stopped fighting.

It’s easy to go down a rabbit hole and say Blagojevich should be a lesson to Illinois politicians who put themselves above those they serve. Or maybe it’s easy to say Blagojevich is a poster child for all people who have big egos and are inclined to leverage power for the wrong reasons.

But we believe Blagojevich is matchless. His misdoings are his own. They are uniquely horrible.

We share a skepticism that this experience has registered with the former governor, a view shared by Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Bonamici, who the Chicago Magazine story said “maintained that Blagojevich hadn’t changed at all and pointed out that he had never taken responsibility for his crimes or shown true remorse and was thus ‘a poor candidate for leniency.’”

In other words, it’s the same old Blagojevich.

We hope this profile is not the first baby step in a comeback when he’s released in May 2024.

We sure don’t need another round in this boxing match.

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