Soon-to-be Senator Roland Burris?
Rod “I am the Governor” Blagojevich is calling every one’s bluff.Â Blago is set later today to appoint former Illinois Attorney General and Comptroller Roland Burris to fill Barack Obama’s Senate seat.
Back on December 9, I made the obvious point that the only “absolutely certain” way to prevent Blago from making this appointment was this: “the Senate leadership of both parties should announce that they will recommend against seating any such replacement â€” no matter who it might be â€” and as many Senators as are willing to do so should publicly join in their leaders’ declaration.”
The Democratic Caucus did make an unnecessarily vague statement along those lines, but Reid and company didn’t follow through, so it shouldn’t be surprising that Burris is willing to accept the appointment.Â And while it shouldn’t matter, the fact that Burris is African-American does matter.Â Since Obama resigned, the Senate once again does not have a single African-American member.Â BlagoÂ can wield that fact as a weapon against anyone who opposes the appointment.Â Since the Senate did not make it 100% clear that no one appointed by him would be accepted, Blago will do his best to cast any move to refuse to seat Burris as a slap at black people.Â At the very least, this will give him an argument to make to the stateâ€™s sizable African-American community, a crucial constituency as the federal criminal case against Blago and impeachment proceedings in the Illinois Legislature unfold.Â While Obama could help mobilize African-Americans against the appointment, any action on his part would draw him more deeply back into the Blagojemess when he has more important things to do.
Incredibly, another thing did not happen to block the Blagovernor’s appointment — even with the passage of three weeks since Blagoâ€™s arrest.Â The Legislature did not even try to strip the Governor of his power to appoint.Â It’s true that Blago could have vetoed any such bill or simply let it die at year’s end, but passage of a bill would have further tainted a Blago appointment and made it harder for him to find a compliant appointee.Â But the Legislature failed to act because the Democratic leadership, after giving the matter a bit of thought, decided they did not want to risk a special election in which a favored Democrat might not win.Â Lieutenant Governor Quinn prefers to oust Blago and make the appointment himself.Â Attorney General Lisa Madigan would like to get the appointment for herself, and her Dad, the powerful leader of the Illinois House, would prefer to make a deal than let the voters of Illinois decide.
So, nothing has been done except to launch an impeachment inquiry looks increasingly pretty lame.Â Blagojevich said he was going to fight “to my last breath.”Â He obviously meant it.Â His message to his adversaries seems to be characteristic of him: @#!8%! off!
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