How Ali-Frazier Fight Explains Blago Trial

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Do you find the federal trial of disgraced former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich confusing? Time's Dawn Reiss is here to help with a handy metaphor to explain the case, in which Blagojevich, accused of attempting to  exploit his power to appoint Barack Obama's replacement in the Senate, was found guilty only of lying to investigators. Reiss says the case is just like the famous 1971 boxing match between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali. Billed as "The Fight of The Century," it was one of three highly publicized bouts between the two boxers.

In Reiss's metaphor, U.S. prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is Muhammad Ali. (He's also "the heavyweight legend of law enforcement, a contemporary Eliot Ness.") Blagojevich's defense attorney, Sam Adam Jr., is Joe Frazier. Just as Blagojevich "won" this trial by beating 23 of the 24 charges, Frazier got the world's attention by defeating Ali in 1971. But here's where the metaphor actually becomes useful: The two boxers followed up that fight up with two legendary rematches.

As with the legendary Ali-Frazier battles, the first fight is followed by a second and a third. Declaring a mistrial on the 23 counts, Judge Zagel gave the prosecution until Aug. 26 to formally announce plans to retry Blagojevich and his brother. Fitzgerald was quick to say, "We intend to retry, that is it." He refused to answer questions. When asked about a retrial, Schar immediately said, "We will start tomorrow." Defense attorney Sam Adam Sr., who worked with his son on Rod Blagojevich's defense, declared, "This guy, Fitzgerald, is a master at indicting people for noncriminal activity. This guy is nuts." Fighting words. His son followed up by imploring reporters to ask Fitzgerald one question: "Why are we spending $25 [million] to $30 million on a retrial when they couldn't prove it the first time?"

Although Reiss doesn't come out and say it, Ali won both his second and third encounters with Frazier.
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