Thursday, September 07, 2006

Jailing Governor Ryan

Former Illinois Governor George Ryan was sentenced to a mere 6-1/2 years in prison yesterday. I am not alone in using the word mere; a Chicago Tribune online poll (unscientific as always) currently shows 62.4% of respondents agree that his sentence was "too light."

Ryan wants to serve his time in Oxford, Wisconsin, not far from the upper Midwest's preeminent tourist trap, Wisconsin Dells. Of course, he won't be the first disgraced Illinoisan to be held there:

Because of its proximity to Chicago, the medium security facility has over the years become a highly sought after address for a who's who of crooked Illinois politicians. Former U.S. Rep. Dan Rostenkowski spent time there, as did former Cook County undersheriff James Dvorak and former 1st Ward Ald. Fred Roti. So did former Judges Richard LeFevour and Reginald Holzer, convicted in the Operation Greylord scandal.
The sad thing is that the dishonor roll of convicted Illinois politicians is many times longer than that.

A bigger prison story broke yesterday -- President Bush announced that suspected terrorists have all been moved from secret CIA prisons throughout the world to the now-legendary facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Words cannot express my pride upon hearing details of America's secret prisons. It makes me feel so Soviet.

Let's put two and two together here. The absence of those suspected terrorists means the lonely CIA prison operatives don't have anyone to waterboard anymore. Governor Ryan needs a place to serve his brief prison term. Maybe 6-1/2 years would be a suitably long sentence after all.

As the soiled stars of Ryan and Bush cross paths here, this is a good time to remind people that a St. Louis Post-Dispatch poll released this week found that despite Ryan's conviction (and pending sentencing at the time), the old guv is still more popular than our widowmaker-in-chief:
Only 32 percent favored Bush in Illinois, while 35 percent had a favorable opinion of Ryan, also a Republican. Ryan had a significantly lower negative rating, 56 percent, compared to 67 percent for Bush.
Although the positive rating difference was within the poll's margin of error, the spread between negative ratings is more conclusive. Pollster Del Ali offered this interpretation: "Some of the thinking may be, 'Ryan can't hurt me anymore. Bush still can hurt me.'" Yes, he can.

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