St. Louis Post-Dispatch
|Is it just Daily RFT, or does it sound like Jeff Smith is flipping the ol' bird to the people who put him behind bars?|
political columnist Tony Messenger
has a nice scene-scetter of the Jeff Smith sentencing
in this morning's paper.
But is anyone besides Daily RFT stumbling over this passage?
Smith knows well that he's now a disgraced former politician who lied to get ahead. He's "owned" his lies and acknowledged over and over that he shouldn't have done what he did.
But there's a difference, he maintains, between admitting wrong and facing the consequences, and taking it a step further and agreeing to wear a wire against his friends.
That's what [Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal] Goldsmith wanted Smith to do. It's what [Steve] Brown did to Smith.
Smith said no, and as soon as he made that decision he knew he was probably going to jail.
"Everyone has choices," Smith said. "Steve Brown made a choice, and I made a different choice. Obviously I face serious consequences as a result of that."
Sounds like Messenger buried the lede.
Yesterday in court Smith was praised by U.S. District Judge Carol Jackson for taking responsibility for his actions. At several points, Jackson said she thought Smith was "sincere" and legitimately contrite.
But in Messenger's telling, Smith now seems to be flipping a big bird to the prosecutor and to his old pal Steve Brown. Heck, maybe even to the judge.
The public corruption unit
of the U.S. Attorney's Office is on a tear. And Smith seems to be saying he only got prison time because he refused to participate in covert wiretappings that could entrap other officials.
Which raises some interesting questions: Is Smith really the bigger man for keeping his mouth shut?
Or does his apparent refusal to wear a wire just help perpetuate corruption?