Last week Illinois Senator Dick Durbin sent a letter to President Bush asking him to commute the sentence of the Illinois George Ryan, a Republican. "For those who would say what is Durbin's political motive, all I can offer is a human motive," said Durbin. Durbin was not the only compassionate Democrat. In fact, Governor Rod Blagojevich asked the President for clemency for Ryan.
After all, political corruption is not that big a deal.
The humanitarian Senator and Governor may indeed be full of compassion, but the timing and motive of the requests for leniency are suspect. With the arrest of Illinois' Democratic governor imminent last week, with the close associations of the Governor and the Democratic President-elect to some of the same discredited associates, there could have been a mad scramble for cover. Some key Democratic figures may have thought that by seeking clemency for Republican George Ryan for his past transgressions, when the axe fell on Blagojevich, the strike would be blunted. If last week's show of compassion was not an exercise in pure humanitarianism, it might have been a strategic political move to mitigate the punishment for what Fitzgerald describes as "staggering corruption."