Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Stop posturing; seat Roland Burris now

I believe that Gov. Rod "And I'm telling you I'm not going" Blagojevich is an arrogant prick. I believe the governor of Illinois knows how to play Chicago politics like a gold medalist and if political gain comes with dipping a toe in illegal waters, so be it. I believe it is highly probable that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald will build an airtight case proving Blago's malfeasance.

These are things I believe. But here is what I know:

Blagojevich has not been found guilty of any crime nor has he even been indicted, censured or removed from office. And it looks like until Fitzgerald is able to get an indictment, Blago is going to hold on to his power like grim death. The governor is, as unfortunate as it may seem, legally within his rights to appoint someone to fill President-elect Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat. We can argue about how undemocratic having legislators appointed is (and I think it is undemocratic); we can argue about how shady it looks to have the man accused of trying to sell Obama's seat continuing to hold the power to fill said seat; but the rules of the state are what they are.

The good taxpayers in the state of Illinois need and deserve representation in the Senate. Taxation without representation--didn't we fight some war over that? The United States Congress is facing some tough issues that will effect all Americans in the coming months. Citizens of the state of Illinois should not be without two strong voices in that legislative body.

Roland Burris is qualified to be a United States Senator. I don't remember much about Burris from my time living in Chicago, but no one seems to be arguing that he is not qualified for the post to which he has been appointed. To be sure, he seems to have nothing to do with the scandal currently brewing around Obama's vacated seat. He's done nothing wrong but be appointed by a scandal-plagued politician.

By the way, Attempts to keep Burris from the seat are not evidence of racism, as Rep. Bobby Rush believes. Bobby Rush is a fool. I haven't forgotten the ungracious way he treated Barack Obama early in the President-elect's career.

The Democrats need all possible votes to pass a stimulus plan and begin to enact the rest of President Obama's vision for America. My party...my party...too busy posturing to see that they might be shooting themselves in the foot with refusals to recognize Roland Burris as the junior senator from Illinois. We don't have a super-majority, you idiots. And Republicans, who always do offense better than our side, are ready to show out come Jan. 20. They will be working against some vital parts of the progressive platform and we need to be ready to fight back. We need all the Democrats in Congress we can muster, including Al Franken (Whew! Finally that nail-biter is over.) and, yes, Roland Burris.

Pols love scandals involving other pols. You can always bet a juicy scandal involving a politician will set other politicians to pearl-clutching and hyperventilating. Even the dirtiest, most-cynical pol will pretend to be shocked...SHOCKED...at the shenanigans of a wayward "public servant." Who can blame them for a bit of schadenfreude? A colleague's fall allows one to position oneself as the polar opposite of the fallen comrade--honest, pure, above reproach--even if the truth is quite different. Remember all the cheating politicians who pretended to be alarmed by Monicagate? (Newt Gingrich, I am looking at you.) So, as crooked at Blago may be, I think a lot of the teeth-gnashing from fellow politicos is so much B.S.

So, when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says...

"It is truly regrettable that despite requests from all 50 Democratic Senators and public officials throughout Illinois, Gov. Blagojevich would take the imprudent step of appointing someone to the United States Senate who would serve under a shadow and be plagued by questions of impropriety. We say this without prejudice toward Roland Burris's ability, and we respect his years of public service. But this is not about Mr. Burris; it is about the integrity of a governor accused of attempting to sell this United States Senate seat. Under these circumstances, anyone appointed by Gov. Blagojevich cannot be an effective representative of the people of Illinois and, as we have said, will not be seated by the Democratic Caucus.

...is he really concerned about doing the people's business and making sure that the citizens of Illinois are properly represented, or is Reid doing the typical political dance of distancing himself, while reveling in scandal?

Illinois needs a senator and Roland Burris is as good as any candidate to fill the position.The best possible scenario is that Burris will agree to temporarily fill the post pending Blago being ousted and another person taking the governor's seat. At that time, the new governor should consider Burris, along with other candidates for a permanent seat. If Burris acquits himself well in his months in the Senate, then he should be able to keep the spot.

Keep in mind that, though it seems unlikely, Gov. Blagojevich might serve out his term. The U.S. Attorney's Office is already asking for three more months to bring a formal indictment against Blago. As long as the governor is the governor, his appointment is legal. Looks bad....yes...but it is legal.

The people of Illinois were not served by their jackass of a governor, nor are they being served by the push-and-pull surrounding the Burris appointment. Senate Dems should do the residents of Illinois a favor and find a way to ensure them representation until the Blago mess is sorted out.

Check out what Professor Tracey has to say about Burris and the Illinois senate seat.


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