Saturday, September 09, 2006

The conviction of George Ryan...

A column in the Sun-Times by Rich Miller about Ryan's conviction and perhaps his motives for the continued corruption or at least the lack of interest in controlling it got me to thinking about something.

While this trial was going on or at least the lead up to it I saw the former governor on cable access. One morning, he was on a show with Munir Muhammad, it was a live call in show and basically callers (who were mostly black and I assume that because the show was basically for a black audience) were singing his praises. And why was because he took all those blacks off of death row. He didn't release them all but he did clear death row. He exposed the unfairness of our criminal justice system or at least the racial unfairness.

Blacks in general seem to believe the system is unfair to them and this old grandfatherly white Republican governor took a stand on this issue. Unfortunately I saw what Ryan did as suspicious even if he just so happened to take some people off of death row who shouldn't have been there. There was a cloud caused by what happened while he was Illinois Secretary of State during his four year term as governor. Indeed it seemed this moratorium on the death penalty lasted the entire term as governor.

Of course there were other things that helped his legacy. Illinois FIRST which not only helped Illinois' transportation structure but allowed Chicago State University to build a new library. And I only know about that because there was a sign for it on the campus. Another time I recall that the took a stand for gun control. Yet all of this was suspicious because he had to have known some of the things he was doing was wrong and he was going down for it.

In his column Rich Miller nailed it and I wasn't the only one who had these suspicions about Ryan's actions...

The other question I hear a lot is, "What was Ryan's motivation for veering so far to the political left by emptying Death Row and changing his mind on gay rights and women's rights?" Some believe he was cynically playing to the liberal
Democratic jury pool in Cook County. The thinking goes that he knew he would end up on trial and he wanted to create as much sympathy as possible. Others think he changed because he was somehow trying to atone for all the laws he broke -- as if becoming a social liberal would get him in good graces with God.
My feeling on this would be that people who sing his praises either don't believe he's corrupt or they support his actions no matter how he chose to make his decision. All that would matter was that he struck a blow against the death penalty. What can I say? Before I can support what a person does I would just as soon look in his closet and at least the items in Ryan's closet was public.

11 comments:

Milton 5:10 PM  

Does anyone ever thought the clearing of Death Row harmed George Ryan? I was listening to a National Program on the radio and the commentator was going through the news. Ryan came up and he cheered about Ryan's conviction. The commentator went on to lambasted Ryan for the clearing of death roll. The radio host was in Florida, so all he did was associate Ryan with Death Row.


Shalom,

--- Prof. Leland Milton Goldblatt

Fran E,  8:11 PM  

Paul Caprio was right. Ryan wrecked havoc on conservatives and the Republican party.

I should of supported Glenn Poshard.

I am truly sorry.
I should of listened to Paul Caprio.

Terri Sanchez,  8:27 PM  

Will Rod Blagojevich pardon JON BURGE the torturer and his accomlises dirtly little Richie and Dick "I am controlled by Jeremiah Joyce" Devine?

Or will Pat Quinn have to pardon Rod Blagojevich?

I AM NOT A CROOK

Pat Hickey 10:31 AM  

Confusion and Obstruction to the Running-dog Thought Criminals and Triumph the Glorious 93rd Peoples Mobilization For Exacting Reciminations on Power Structure Left in Tact Despite Bombings, Robberies and Martydoms of Children of Priveledge Now Academic Swells,Advisors and Friends to the Underclass Everywhere! Long Live The Rhetoric!

Now, Gimma C! Give a ...GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO REDS!

Anonymous,  4:46 PM  

It is amazing how Hickey defends his Orange cousin Burge.

What did the King say about the Irish in Braveheart?
That is what the Irish say about the Blacks
Hickeys diatribes on certain law firms and individuals that have helped prove wrongdoing

PETER DIGNAN FOREVER

Pat Hickey 5:20 PM  

Go Get 'Em Leonid!
Hoist That Hammer
And Sickle 'Em!

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, REDS!

the Other Anonymous,  6:48 PM  

My opinion is that George Ryan is a very complex political creature. His one burning desire throughout his political career was perfecting the art of the deal. It's part of his back-slapping, joking, hail-fellow-well-met persona. Early in his career, he was the master of helping friends and acquaintances get what they desired. This got him elected to statewide office.

Once in office, life is a little bit different. First, a Governor alone decides matters of life and death (capital punishment); or, matters involving health (the veto of the ban on Medicaid funding of abortions). There's little middle ground on these issues on which to cut a deal. I believe that Ryan's shift to the left on social issues was motivated almost entirely by having to face real people who are affected by the decisions that he alone would make.

Second, Ryan never had to face some of the issues he faced as Governor. As Lt. Governon and Secretary of State, he wasn't much involved in social issues. Even as Speaker of the House, his view of social issues was parochial at best, partisan at worst. For him, social issues were defined by tactics, not by policy.

Last, Ryan is simply one in a long string of downstate politicians who moved to the left on social issues when elected statewide. Maybe it's a matter of politics; maybe it's an honest attempt to represent a broader constituency; or maybe it's simply more contact with people who hold different views than the majority of downstaters.

Much like his complex political personality, I believe his legacy is complex as well. I am a big fan of Ryan's work on capital punishment and his stands on social issues as Governor. In many ways, liberals were better off with George Ryan than under the current Governor.

On the other hand, he was part of the old school of politicking that is corrupt. He deserves his prison sentence.

It's a mixed legacy. But for better or worse, liberals have gotten used to mixed legacies, viz Bill Clinton. It's unfair to claim that people who supported Ryan for the good things he did are simply ignoring the bad things. It's just that I won't ignore the good things a politician accomplishes simply because he or she did some bad things; this doesn't justify Ryan's corruption, but we shouldn't diminish his accomplishments.

Just like I can't overlook the policy failures of George W Bush simply because he's a nice guy and probably would make a great neighbor, never cheated on his wife, and never took a bribe.

Pat Hickey 7:02 PM  

Very well said, sir or madam, and you articulate your conviction with thoughtful prose.

It will be a very long time before a cold assessment of Gov. Ryan's rise and fall is written.

That will not,sadly enough, halt the flow of splenetic ink from likes of Kass and Zorn. Their agenda is to mutilate the corpse and not probe the cancers to find a cure.

They are setting the table for the next target and waiting the go-ahead from the powers that be.

Confidential Informant 14,  9:26 PM  

Patrick,
Tis a shame. But what will you do when Jeremiah and Kevin get indicted?????
That evil Patrick Fitzgerald appointed by that bad Peter Fitzgerald (the one Steve Neal used to attack)(and they are both Irish--what Judases) is trying to get the most powerful shadowy political figure in Illinois (No, no not Eddie Vrdolyak--he has not been the most powerful in many years and he is flamboyant and not shadowy)
O'Hare, Golf Courses, 3rd airport land, McDonalds, Cable TV, Sorich/Slattery, 19 property deals,

His money would be worth doing the time, but his son? Would Daley ask one to sacrifice their first born? (not to blaspheme)

Pat Hickey 10:18 PM  

Camenbert, Perhaps? Or do you dine solely on tart grapes?

Anonymous,  7:16 AM  

George Ryan is a creature of Kankakee County politics. This Illinois county has always had a long and colorful history of political corruption. It is as natural down in Kankakee County to practice the art of "scratching the backs of others " as it is to breathe air. George "Back Scratcher" Ryan was simply one of many from Kankakee politics who considered government and political corruption as an art form and "standard procedure".
As far as Stuart Levine jumping from the GOP ship captained by Jim Ryan and becoming a passenger on the H.M.S. Democrat, captained by Rod Blagojevich, that is simply a good business decision.
If you were to look closely, you would also notice that George Ryan's long time friend and one of his largest financial contributors in Kankakee County, Tony Perry (owner of the largest commercial real estate firm in Kankakee County called Tony Perry Realty) also decided to get off of the Illinois GOP ship and become a passenger on the Illinois Democrat ship. Now you see him, now you don't!
Tony Perry made a smart business decision by abandoning his long-time friend, George Ryan, and the Illinois GOP and switching to the Illinois Democrat Party and his new buddy, Rod Blagojevich.
He was simply joining other rodents and getting off of a sinking ship. It is considered to be just "good business".

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