Has Dick Durbin lost his mind?
It’s hard to think of any other explanation for the news today that he is considering asking President George W. Bush to commute George Ryan’s sentence.
“Let’s look at the price he’s paid,” Durbin told reporters.
Um, Dick, let’s look at the price we’ve paid.
“His family name has been damaged.”
“He is at an advanced moment in his life and been removed from his family.”
On a soft, six-and-a-half-year sentence imposed by a federal judge. All appeals denied.
“He has lost his economic security.”
He doled out taxpayer money to his cronies in a series of dirty deals.
“The question is whether continued imprisonment is appropriate at this point.”
The question, Senator Durbin, is why you aren’t giving your personal consideration to those among the thousands of Illinois prisoners who aren’t actually guilty, or who deserve a measure of this nation’s compassion. Or even those who are guilty but are remorseful for what they’ve done – which Ryan still isn’t.
This is a neat game you are playing, senator. You can hardly decide against asking Bush to set Ryan free now, can you? But even if you decide against it, you have signaled to the president that you’ll give him cover. The U.S. Senate’s second-highest ranking Democrat thinks it’s okay.
“A pardon or commutation for George Ryan would send a message to Illinois taxpayers and public servants that the consequences for public corruption in Illinois are less severe and would further fuel cynicism of our important institutions,” three former federal prosecutors who tried Ryan said in a statement.
I mean, why not just let Robert Sorich go too? Just let ’em all go.
I mean, what was all that for? The trial delays and the Winston & Strawn pro bono baloney and the juror problems and the judge’s hard work and the appeals and the verdict and the sentencing? Was it all theater?
And more importantly, why should a public official get more consideration than a private person? Shouldn’t it be the other way around?
“His trial revealed he presided over systemic corruption to further his career and line the pockets of pals who, in turn, helped bankroll his lifestyle,” the Sun-Times editorialized today.
“After his trial and conviction, Ryan had a chance before the judge sentenced him to apologize to the Willis family or to taxpayers for his crime. He did not.”
Frankly, I find it sickening to see the George and Lura Lynn on the cover of the Sun-Times today decorating a Christmas tree, and there again taking up nearly the whole of page 2 dancing, and Lura Lynn whining that “It’s such a waste for him to be sitting down there” even as she’s saying “His conscience is as clear as his mind.”
Really? His conscience is clear? Then no commutation for you!
“All he wanted to do was help people,” Lura Lynn says.
Yes. He wanted to help his friends gain riches and power so they would keep him propped up.
“She said one letter she wrote was put in the president’s hand ‘by a close friend,’ whom she would not name.” (Jim Thompson? Dan Webb?)
Classic Ryan. How many other prisoners have the opportunity to have a friend put a letter into the president’s hand? Why should he get special consideration?
Lura Lynn knows how to play the angles. There she is telling Sneed how much she misses good ol’ George’s vegetable soup. Please.
“By taking steps to undermine the verdict of the jury that convicted Ryan and the very reasonable 6½-year sentence handed down by a federal judge, then you will only revive the cynicism of all those who always believed the system would protect Ryan,” Mark Brown writes.
Especially in appealing to an outgoing Republican president who has very little to lose. You wouldn’t want to burden Barack Obama – who could also release Ryan at a moment’s notice – with this request, would you?
“By singling out the Ryans for your concern, you are adding to the perception that the political class protects itself first and foremost,” Brown writes. “Dick Durbin seems to be confused. That’s the nicest way I can think to say it.”
I’m not feeling so nice. Dick Durbin knows exactly what he is doing. Confused isn’t the word for it.