Why Obama Will Never Pardon Blago - NBC Chicago
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Why Obama Will Never Pardon Blago



    The same Public Policy Poll that found Michelle Obama would beat Mark Kirk in a U.S. Senate race also found that most Illinoisans don’t want President Obama to pardon former governors George Ryan or Rod Blagojevich. Seventy percent are opposed to a Ryan pardon, while 75 percent oppose a Blagojevich pardon.

    A Ryan pardon is a moot point. He is scheduled to be released from prison in July, after which he can return to Kankakee to live out the rest of his life in disgrace as a lonely, broken widower.

    Blagojevich, according to Ward Room’s Blago Countdown Clock, will not get out until May 23, 2024. Even at the end of Obama’s second term, which is when most presidential pardons are issued, he’ll still have seven-and-a-half years to go -- almost another two-term presidency.

    Personally, I think the nearly five years Blago will have served by then will be more than enough for talking on the phone about a deal he never made. But knowing what I know about Obama, I don’t think he’ll ever pardon Blagojevich.

    Obama, who has a habit of discarding allies once they can no longer do anything for him, is the kind of guy who won’t even help his friends out. To do so would be to admit he got to the White House with someone’s help, not because of his own brilliance, charisma and sense of destiny. And Obama and Blagojevich were never friends.
    As he prepared to run for the U.S. Senate in 2004, Obama did take political style tips from Blagojevich, who was well known for his two-handed approach to politicking: the right hand shakes, while the left goes for the wallet. But Obama and Blagojevich had little use for each other personally. Both wanted to be president, and Blagojevich, raised in a dreary Northwest Side apartment, thought Hyde Parkers were pampered elitists. But as a loyal Democrat, Obama sat in on Blagojevich’s campaign strategy sessions, and came to envy his skill at glad-handing donors while pestering them for cash. 

    So don’t worry, Illinoisans. Obama has already gotten everything he needs out of Blagojevich. So Blagojevich won’t be getting out.


    This month, Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland’s Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President will be available on Kindle for $9.99. Tracing Obama’s career in Chicago from his arrival as a community organizer to his election to the U.S. Senate, Young Mr. Obama tells the story of how a callow, presumptuous young man became a master politician, and of why only Chicago could have produced our first black president.