To retry or not retry, that is the dominating debate surrounding the recent trial, or should we say, mistrial, of ex Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. It is not a debate among federal prosecutors, but it is among observers, pundits and the political class. Arguments on both sides advance interesting and possibly compelling ideas and justifications.
Examining positions for and against retrial is an exercise that should yield a worthy outcome. To begin with, Blago is one character; love him or hate him, he is colorful. If the charges were not so serious, the characteristics of the man revealed on tape are so revolting, and the condition of the State of Illinois so deplorable, this could be comedy and he would be our court jester. However, we are wallowing in a sea of deliberate and perpetual malfeasance and at least $130,000,000,000 of state debt and unfunded obligations. This is serious business, and the retrial will add focus and a profoundly favorable influence on the future of Illinois.
Two arguments against a retrial provide surface logic; cost and the fact that a conviction for perjury has already been achieved -- that is all we need. However, those positions are unconvincing, as they do not address the underlying purpose of the indictments. First the cost issue; the only real new, incremental out of pocket costs are those that do not involve the Federal Prosecutors office, the FBI investigators and other government officials including the Federal District Judiciary office staff, who are already on payroll and would be paid, irrespective any new trial. Those new, incremental costs are small in comparison to the total, and should be overlooked. It is hard to justify skimping on the cost of justice for such criminal behavior and one who so blatantly abused the office citizens of Illinois elected him to serve.
As to the existence of a conviction for lying to the FBI, that is small change and sends no message at all. Everyone can have a moment of not remembering, especially when under interrogation by the FBI; that must be terrifying, even for Blago.
Blagojevich should be retried because; a message must be sent to all politicians, we are mad as hell and we are not going to take it anymore. If you are a completely formed adult jerk, as the ex-governor most certainly displayed on tape, if you do not like the job you duped us into believing you wanted, if you were so engrossed in your own self interest and welfare, if you are a fundamentally corrupt person, if you so disregard and disparage the electorate who put you in office, if you are willing to pile debt on unfathomable debt without regard to consequences and are willing to shake down hospitals and sell Senate seats, we have an obligation to throw you out of office and convict you of the crimes committed.
A retrial is also appropriate as the most serious charges were agreed upon by 11-1, not enough for a conviction, but a very long way from an acquittal. This is especially compelling when the lone holdout for conviction was suspiciously committed to a predetermined outcome, and un-persuaded by evidence.
Failure to retry will give crooked office seekers and corrupt elected officials everywhere, the notion that it is OK because everyone does it and we all get away with it. Retry because it is time to end the embarrassment of the Blagojevich experiment.