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This editorial appeared in the Aug. 17, 2019, edition of the (Decatur) Herald & Review:

Rod Blagojevich has spent seven years in jail for crimes of his own making; he's due to spend another seven, unless President Trump commutes his sentence.

He's acclimated to jail now, set in the serene hills of middle Colorado, where the sky is blue and picturesque mountaintops remain covered in snow. The cellmates — neighbors, really — in the country club prison he lives watch TV, exercise, occasionally banter with golfers on a nearby course or sneak to town for a pack of smokes.

They lift weights and exercise and jog aimlessly on an outdoor track, where a white-haired Blago spent some hours last week as a Chicago Tribune photographer snapped pictures. The good life, except, of course, without Patti and the girls.

So we shed only crocodile tears for the Gov, who must be impatiently waiting in his gilded cage for Trump to sign the paperwork that would let him free.

It's clear, of course, Trump spoke without all the facts on Blago's case. Two congressmen called the president to explain the intricacies of the case: how Blagojevich shook down a children's hospital for a donation, how he tried to sell the Senate seat that belonged to Barack Obama, how he and Patti let loose with blue invective against those who didn't see the governor's office as they did, a road paved with gold.

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Blago followed in the shackled footsteps of other Illinois governors: of George Ryan, of Dan Walker, of Otto Kerner Jr.; and of congressmen Dan Rostenkowski, Dennis Hastert, Mel Reynolds and Jesse Jackson Jr., so it's not terribly surprising that he used the job for personal gain. Nor is it surprising that he sought public support by joining the cast of Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice," and that Patti did the same with "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here," as well as appearances on Fox News to draw the eye of the president, a Fox fan.

It's just who they are.

Even so, the president has toyed with them more than once, dangling the idea of a commuted sentence, as he trivializes Blago's crimes and deflects attention from himself by drawing the media's eyes toward the disgraced governor. As president, Trump has the ability to commute sentences and issue pardons. Generally those decisions are made with much study and thoughtfulness, not just about the person convicted of the crime but about the victims of that crime.

Blagojevich's victims were the citizens of Illinois, who cannot be made whole even if the governor serves his entire 14-year term.

Trump now is slow-walking his initial thoughts of commutation. It's unclear whether he's rethinking his position or pointing his tweets at another pawn.

Sort of like a cat tired of playing with a mouse.

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