The journalist in question is al.com's John Archibald, who wrote "Why Mike Hubbard is like Don Siegelman." Archibald is no stranger to shallow, nonsensical analysis, so it's not a surprise that he would tackle this subject and screw it up. But you would think he might at least remember his own words from February 2014, in a post titled "This country is about to have a throwdown over abusive cops and courts."
Archibald's Hubbard/Siegelman commentary is goofy from the outset because there are almost no similarities between the two politicians and their criminal cases:
* Hubbard was indicted while in office and has refused to step down from his post, even temporarily, despite pleas from members of his own party; Siegelman was not in office when he was indicted.
* Hubbard's indictment appears to be lawful--it was filed inside the relevant statute of limitations and cites language that matches that from the state ethics law upon which it is based; the federal government filed an indictment against Siegelman almost one full year after the statute of limitations had lapsed, and the former governor was convicted based on jury instructions that match neither the statutory nor case-law language. In essence, Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy were convicted of a "crime that does not exist."
* Hubbard was indicted by a state attorney general (Luther Strange) who is a member of his own party. Siegelman's indictment and prosecution were driven by members of the opposing party. Alabama attorney Jill Simpson swore in an affidavit, and testified under oath before Congress, that GOP operatives targeted Siegelman for political reasons--not because he had committed a crime.
His main gripe seems to be that neither Hubbard nor Siegelman has admitted guilt. (I'm not a Mike Hubbard fan, but he hasn't even gone to trial, and he's entitled to plead not guilty and try to prove that in court. Under those circumstances, it would be nutty for him to admit fault.) Here is the key point Archibald seems to be making:
If we know one thing at all by now it is that Mike Hubbard will serve Mike Hubbard first. He will cling to the power he believes he rightfully claimed for himself from the Democrats and all the forces marshalled against him. He will hold to that power as long as he has fingernails to sink into it. Because he is just like every other politician who grabs hold and cannot let go.
He's just like those he ridiculed when he himself staked a claim to public service.
Like convicted Democratic former Gov. Don Siegelman.
They both refuse to acknowledge fault. They both refuse to accept responsibility. They point and blame, because they always used government as a way to service themselves privately instead of using it provide the public service they promised.
Archibald seems to be saying we have a justice system that always gets it right--that all prosecutors, lawyers, judges, and jurors are fair, honorable, serious, perceptive, and knowledgeable. This system, Archibald seems to assert, is infallible--and anyone who is indicted or found to be guilty under it has a duty to admit guilt.
That's a far cry from what Archibald wrote roughly one year ago. On that occasion, Archibald was understandably disturbed about the case of Sureshbhai Patel, a grandfather from India who was body slammed and partially paralyzed by Madison police officer Eric Parker. (We will be addressing the latest outrages in the Patel case soon.) Here is what Archibald wrote last February:
I've been asked a lot lately, in the wake of the gay marriage debate, what the next great civil or human rights battleground will be. And I think this is it.
Justice. And all that means.
It is the use of force by police. It is the fairness of justice for the rich and the poor alike. The battle is simmering now, in places like Ferguson and Madison, and more quietly in courts like those in Childersburg and Clanton, where the smallest of traffic offenses can lead to jail time for those who cannot pay immediately.
It was by far the most insightful piece I've seen from John Archibald, and I praised him for it publicly. Archibald correctly stated that our justice system is deeply flawed--and the law-enforcement and legal/judicial types who make it "hum" often have dubious motives.
So why should Don Siegelman admit guilt because of the findings from a court system that Archibald admits is a long way from infallible? Why should Mike Hubbard admit fault before he's even tried by such a system?
Do you just quietly take the IRS's word and start trying to figure out how you are going to pay $5.6 million--or maybe start thinking about what life will be like in federal prison? Or do you fight back--telling IRS officials they are wrong and offering proof that you do not owe back taxes?
Any rational person is going to fight back--realizing that our government entities can, and do, make mistakes.
But Don Siegelman and Mike Hubbard are supposed to just quietly take whatever the court system gives them? I don't buy it--and John Archibald's own words indicate he doesn't buy it either.