Steve Chapman

Various interviewers gave him the chance to explain why his FBI-recorded words did not mean what they seem to mean. But Blagojevich declined, citing "an Illinois Supreme Court rule that requires I can't comment on the details of a pending case." This statement, I regret to inform you, departs from strict factual accuracy.

Or, as Northwestern University law professor Steven Lubet puts it, "That's not true. The First Amendment protects a criminal defendant's right to comment on the charges against him, and there is no Illinois Supreme Court rule to the contrary."

The problem lawyers have with letting defendants talk is that they can incriminate themselves -- a danger that became abundantly clear in his chat with Rachel Maddow on MSNBC.

Asked if he tried to force Tribune Co. to fire the anti-Blagojevich editorial board of The Tribune in exchange for tax assistance in selling Wrigley Field, he said, "And so again, without going into any detail, they're getting the benefit of these things to try to help the Cubs. We just would prefer that they don't, look, that -- that the things that they're advocating that I be impeached it'd be nice if they, they laid off an issue like that."

Any impeachment trial puts a heavier burden on the accusers than the accused, because conviction requires a two-thirds majority. To keep his office, Blagojevich merely has to implant small doubts among 19 of 59 senators. Yet he chose not to even present a defense until reversing course at the last minute, practically assuring his conviction.

Why is he taking this bizarre tack? Maybe it's because he thinks he has a political future after impeachment if he can somehow beat the criminal charges, allowing him to claim vindication. But since the Senate can not only remove him from his current job but bar him from ever holding any office in the state, that seems unrealistic even by Blagojevich's standards.

More likely, he is just making the most of his opportunity to soak up every bit of TV exposure and public attention he can before being relegated to his grim future of political exile, a criminal trial and possible prison. It won't be long now.

Steve Chapman

Steve Chapman is a columnist and editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune.

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