Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Deterrence and George Ryan

The personal story today for George Ryan and his family is not something I want to see. It's sad to see a 73-year-old man surrender maybe his last years to prison, separated from a wife he truly seems to love.

What I find most fascinating about the George Ryan story is not the death penalty moratorium phase of his career. No matter how many times some liberals deny it, it was a smokescreen to deflect political criticism. It actually worked, albeit only slightly. For a Republican curmudgeon governor to go to prison for corruption without a torrent of scorn—that's some moratorium spin at work.

No, what I think is most interesting is that the next Governor watched the George Ryan saga unfold—hell, campaigned on it—and now finds himself on the precipice of exactly the same fate. That is a more compelling personal story to me. I don't think George Ryan's fate is shocking. His public career was riddled with corruption allegations so much so he campaigned for governor as an old time politician.

Rod Blagojevich was going to be different, he said. There is a debate raging on whether the death penalty is a deterrent. The real debate ought to be whether one federal corruption prosecution of an Illinois governor deters another. It doesn't look like it, does it?

For those who do want to know about the human side of George's visit to Oxford on Wednesday, I recommend Burt Constable's excellent column today. Burt is misguided politically and has poor taste in baseball teams, but he is a good guy and an excellent columnist.

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