Jobs Homes Autos For Sale

How Blago's 'lynching' could turn into scene from 'Animal House'
By Chuck Goudie | Daily Herald Columnist
print story
email story
Published: 1/19/2009 12:16 AM

Send To:





Double-secret probation is what Gov. Blagojevich's lawyers would like to see happen to U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. Or something even worse.

Blago's team believes that Fitzgerald violated Justice Department standards against flippant remarks and maybe broke one of the Bar's Ten Commandments (Thou Shall Not Hurl Dung at Another Attorney) when he said Lincoln would be rolling over in his grave because of the governor's malfeasance.

Fitzgerald was particularly venomous when he announced the arrest of Gov. Milorad Blagojevich last month, but then again he was talking about an elected official accused of auctioning off a U.S. Senate seat.

Besides, Fitzgerald knows a lot more about what the governor allegedly did than what he said at the time. Federal investigators who have been working on the case suggest that we all wait 'til the grand jury indictments are handed up. Lincoln won't be the only the only one turning in the tomb.

The gloves really came off though over the weekend, when Mr. Blagojevich's attorney decided they would no longer fight his impeachment battle with the state Senate.

It won't be a trial, said Blagojevich lawyer Sam Adam, Jr.

It will be a "lynching," according to the junior Adam. "A kangaroo court," he said, in a slur certain to inflame animal rights activists and others.

Mr. Adam then invoked the expected closing of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp for terrorists and war criminals, saying "they're reopening it in Springfield" for the Blagojevich impeachment trial.

The governor's lead attorney, famous criminal defenseman Ed Genson, was a bit more restrained, simply calling the Senate proceeding "unfair" because he wouldn't be able to call or cross-examine witnesses.

Forget about the fact that the Illinois procedure is almost identical to the one used in Washington during the Clinton impeachment. Nobody called that a lynching, maybe because Mr. Clinton was not convicted.

So, Mr. Genson and the Adam's family (Sam Jr. and Sr.) will boycott the impeachment trial and are recommending that Milorad stay away too. That shouldn't be difficult for the governor, who doesn't have many frequent-flier miles between Chicago and Springfield in the first place.

So, it's really not going to be a lynching or a kangaroo court or un-American as Adam Jr. maintains.

Nor would Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. appreciate Adam Jr. applying MLK's famous quote "Injustice somewhere is injustice everywhere" to the Blagojevich Senate seat-selling impeachment case.

If Messrs. Genson, Adams and Adams want to steal a tactic, perhaps they should look to the movie "Animal House." There is one scene which Gov. Milorad could adapt for use in his upcoming impeachment trial.

You may recall it. The boys from the Delta Tau Chi fraternity house are summoned to a hearing in front of the university disciplinary council, run by a 1960s neo-Nazi student.

It is obvious that the proceeding is intended to disband and expel the troublemaking fraternity for bad grades, out-of-control drinking parties and general campus mayhem such as delivering medical school cadavers to the alumni dinner.

"Point of parliamentary procedure!"

Just before the gavel drops on the decision to close down the Delta house, a slick, dark-haired fraternity member rises to eloquently address the disciplinary council. You can almost imagine that it is a young Milorad Blagojevich, pre-law, trying to talk his way out of a paddling.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I'll be brief. The issue here is not whether we broke a few rules or... took a few liberties with our female party guests. We did." confesses Eric "Milorad" Stratton with a sly smile and faraway gaze.

"But you can't hold a whole fraternity responsible for the behavior of... a few sick, twisted individuals," he said.

"For if you do-then shouldn't we blame the whole fraternity system? And if the whole fraternity system is guilty... then isn't this an indictment of our educational institutions in general?"

"I put it to you, isn't this an indictment of our entire American society?"

"Well, you can do what you want to us... but we won't sit here-and listen to you bad-mouth the United States of America!"

With that, Eric "Milorad" Stratton gets up and marches out of the official hearing. He is followed by the rest of his supporters, all humming the Star-Spangled Banner, as they process past the disciplinary committee chairman who is pounding his gavel trying to restore order.

So for Gov. Blagojevich, when all the lawyering is finished and there are no more disabled willing to be wheeled out for news conferences, it may be time to try another tactic.

When the state Senate gavels open its impeachment trial, our governor ought to keep in mind the most applicable quote from Eric Stratton in the movie:

"I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part."

• Chuck Goudie, whose column appears each Monday, is the chief investigative reporter at ABC 7 News in Chicago. The views in this column are his own and not those of WLS-TV. He can be reached by e-mail at