Blagojevich surprises, delivers in closing argument

Showing he's still got some political skill left, the governor of Illinois delivers a closing argument that might actually do him some good.

By Alex Koppelman

Published January 29, 2009 6:10PM (EST)

If you only watched Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich make his closing argument at his impeachment trial on Thursday, you might well believe that the governor is in fact an innocent man being railroaded for the offense of having cared too much. The Blagojevich who showed up in the Illinois State Senate today wasn't the one who's been giving bewildering, somewhat unhinged performances in the media and during press conferences lately. He was calm, composed, impassioned, even persuasive. 

But the Chicago Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet, who really knows this stuff, just put it on Fox News, "He was terrific in presenting his side. If you knew nothing of the details, he sounded very reasonable, very methodical... If you did not know what the articles of impeachment were about, if you didn't know there were some very serious pay-to-play elements in this impeachment, then you would think he sounds reasonable."

What this ultimately showed is that Blagojevich still has some serious political chops. His speech was broadcast live and in full, and clips from it will undoubtedly be played repeatedly throughout the day and into the evening. The evidence presented against him, however, has not gotten nearly the same amount of play over the past week, and the details of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's press conference laying out criminal allegations against the governor have faded into memory. With only one side of the story presented in the media, and presented well, Blagojevich has a chance to rehabilitate his image. It almost certainly won't save his job, but it might well help him save some face.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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