The Politics Of Blago/Burris

Responding to my post criticizing her previous post, Digby argues that the politics of not seating Roland Burris, Blago's pick to fill the Illinois Senate seat, is horrible (I'll stick to the politics in this post, having written enough words on the legal issues). I disagree. Ian Welsh gets it right imo:

Here's the fact: Blagojevich was caught, on tape, trying to sell the seat. He is corrupt. He is tainted. It may be true, on the strict letter of the law, that Blagojevich is still entitled legally to appoint a Senator (since the Illinois Senate has refused to do its job). Morally, however, it is odious to allow a Governor who, again, is caught on tape trying to sell the seat, to appoint someone to it. Letting this play out legally, right to the Supreme Court, is the right thing to do. If the Supremes rule that Burris must be seated, so be it. It is then on them that a man appointed by a known seat-selling Governor is in the Senate. It is not on Senate Democrats that they were willing to allow someone who was willing to accept a tainted seat to enter the Senate.


Speaking for me only

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    This is the crucial point (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by pmj6 on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 09:20:31 PM EST
    It may be true, on the strict letter of the law, that Blagojevich is still entitled legally to appoint a Senator (since the Illinois Senate has refused to do its job).

    Being a nation of laws, the strict letter of the law is what we are going by here, right?

    Besides, do you really want to create a precedent by allowing the US Senate to refuse to seat a member basically on a whim? I'm sure the GOP, after it regains the majority at some point in the future, would just love to have the power to disallow Democratic senators (elected, appointed, does not matter) to take their rightful place in the US Senate...

    It MAY be true (none / 0) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 09:21:33 PM EST
    Happens I think it is false.

    Blagojevich is the governor of IL... (2.00 / 1) (#7)
    by pmj6 on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 09:23:13 PM EST
    ...and the governor of IL has the power to appoint replacement senators. Seems pretty clear cut...

    Well (none / 0) (#8)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 09:25:28 PM EST
    Since it is clear cut to you, I will not bother writing a 2300 word post explaining why it is not.

    I have full confidence... (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by pmj6 on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 09:28:57 PM EST
    ...in your ability to interpret the law in whatever way that best suits your political preferences, after all that is what lawyers do. But I doubt very much that USSC would agree with your position because of the precedent it would set.

    But there's no precedent set (none / 0) (#12)
    by andgarden on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 09:29:57 PM EST
    if it rules the way you want it to? Heh.

    As a matter of fact, no... (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by pmj6 on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 09:34:20 PM EST
    ...because it would only confirm what we already know. Unless the state law states otherwise, the sitting governor gets to appoint the successor, and the Senate has no say in the matter unless the replacement does meet Constitutional requirements for the position. That's the customary way of doing things already.

    Ruling otherwise would set a precedent that the Senate gets a great deal of authority in determining who gets to become member of that body. Do we really want to go there? The implications could be very far-reaching.


    They could fire up (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Fabian on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 09:51:06 PM EST
    the ethics committee!

    (BTW - that's a joke, as is the ethics committee.)


    Problem is (none / 0) (#17)
    by andgarden on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 09:41:14 PM EST
    that what you think you know just ain't so. The court hasn't decided either way, and history suggests that the Senate does think it has that power.

    I strongly suspect... (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by pmj6 on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 09:57:47 PM EST
    ...that the US Senate thinks it has that power, much in the way that Bush thought he had the power to authorize torture and lots of other things.

    My overriding point is whether we want the Senate to absolutely, positively, have the power to have the final say over who gets to be a US Senator.


    No, we're talking about a narrower issue. (none / 0) (#23)
    by andgarden on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:00:31 PM EST
    As you well know.

    OK, I must be misreading something (not a snark) (none / 0) (#34)
    by pmj6 on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:20:44 PM EST
    What is the narrower issue you are referring to?

    The power of the Senate (none / 0) (#50)
    by andgarden on Fri Jan 02, 2009 at 05:07:05 AM EST
    to review the propriety of an appointment.

    Nobody seems to be getting it (5.00 / 2) (#18)
    by scribe on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 09:48:06 PM EST
    while this might be a "Crisis", it is also a huge opportunity.  (Sorry for going so long, but last week I wrote one of my better diaries and got exactly one comment - from me, updating it.  So, I'm putting this in the main thread where it might get read.)

    First off, for what it's worth, I called most of the legal issues the other day in the open thread.  The ministerial vs. discretionary issue re the Illinois Secretary of State and signing, sealing and delivering (literally all three) the notification to the Senate of Burris' appointment.  The primacy of state law on those issues.  The impact of the 17th Amendment, and so on.

    But set all that aside for a minute.  Ask yourself:

    Why is Obama backing Reid and the 50 Democrats in the Senate who signed the letter indicating no way they'll seat Burris?

    Why did Reid take that position in the first instance?

    Logic tells us there is a reason, and a good one, for a president-elect to get involved in this - and common sense tells us it is not what the Joe and Jane Foreheads of the Talking Head Idiot Channels on cable would have us believe.  If you're believing them and their analysis, ask yourself:  After all the times those folks have shown themselves to be idiots, why am I believing them now?

    Going back to my two questions further up the comment - about Obama and about Reid - the most logical reason they have for taking the positions they took is this:  They are forcing Blago and Burris to follow The Rule of Law.

    We've grown so inured over the last 8 (and more) years to the creation, existence and ready resort to shortcuts around the Rule of Law, and around established procedure, that we have come to see them as not just grudgingly-accepted, not just as normal, but as even desirable.  Get it done, get it done quickly, and get it done in this news cycle.

    It's that sort of short-cutting which facilitated, inter alia, John Yoo giving OLC opinions while playing squash.

    It's that sort of short-cutting which made possible the whole existence of a torture regime, a regime of extrajudicial incarceration and, quite likely, a regime of extrajudicial killings run from and by the Oval Office.  Don't worry about the legalities.  Finesse them and, if they can't be finessed, ignore them.  Write a 80-something page (single-spaced) legal memo justifying torture while ignoring the Geneva Conventions, the Hague Conventions, the Torture Act, and Youngstown.  And get promoted for doing it. Set up a regime of warrantless wiretapping to avoid, in the words of Addington, "that dam*ed court".  And, as did Mr. Nacchio, go to prison for balking about it.

    So, now we have to relearn the habits of actually obeying the law, demanding judicial resolution of issues which are unclear or "of first impression" (i.e., lawyer talk for "this is a totally new question").

    And Reid - backstopped by Obama - is forcing this to happen.

    Blago wants to fight, so he finds a patsy whose quixotic, oft-thwarted ambition to be a Senator overtakes whatever residue of good judgment is left in his head after years of believing his own press, trying and failing.  I digress a bit:  if a person with as much political and governmental experience as Burris has, keeps losing a race for Senator or other higher office, particularly in primaries, it seems to me a good sign that responsible people - whose support can make or break a candidacy for the higher office - have seen him in action enough to know he does not have the gravitas, judgment or ability for the office.  And, for this patsy, Blago's offer is like he just hit the Powerball on the ticket that fell out the window of a skyscraper and landed at his feet.

    Blago chooses his patsy well - a black man with a history of pioneering.  It's calculated cunning (remember:  smarts and animal cunning, as we saw with Palin and her Troopergate, and Bush and just about everything, are not mutually inclusive) on Blago's part and it's done well.  It has threatened to fracture the Democrats along a bunch of lines:

    old civil rights warriors/new post-civil rights era post-racialists (for lack of a better name);
    corrupt go-along-and-get-along/stand on principle;
    Democratic wing of Democratic party/Corporat-o-crat wing;
    You name it.

    Of course, Blago's patsy probably knows that this seat is, as Blago supposedly said on tape, "Golden", something he's "not giving away", and "worth a lot".  Burris has to know that one day, and soon, the bill Blago will present will come due.

    And everyone is running in circles trying to figure out what to think, say and do.

    The answer is pretty simple:  Burris wants this seat?  Make him earn it.  In court.

    The Illinois Secretary of State balks - great!  Let the Courts decide.  And let the appellate courts decide.  Until all the appeals are exhausted.

    The Illinois legislature dithers, and they learn a lesson about Blago:  "You snooze, you lose".  Fine.  Make them make the system work.  Their interests are offended?  Make them stand up for themselves.

    Both Blago and those who oppose him and his apparent corruption need to recognize that the system we have - The Rule of Law - only works when those who are involved in it, make it work.  While the lesson may be hard for Blago (especially if the allegations are true), it won't be easy to get rid of the lazy that has rotted the

    It's inefficient (it's supposed to be that way - only dictatorships and similar tyrannies are efficient), but it makes sure that the rules are followed.

    And why is Obama pushing (other than this is an Illinois issue and his old seat)?

    Because he and Reid know the Republicans will be (and are) doing their level best to hobble, delay and destroy the Democratic agenda.  The only way to have a unified caucus and be able to break the inevitable filibuster, is to practice unity - and weld the caucus together - in this intra-party scrum.

    It's no different than what has been preached at Kos and re the 50-state strategy, and what we saw with the extended Democratic primary battle - it makes for better candidates/officeholders, a stronger party and, as we saw in the election, a very unified party.

    So, throw Blago as kiss for giving the party an opportunity to unify even more and maybe, just maybe, get something real done.

    Now, if we can just get Reid to make the Republicans actually filibuster, rather than win by threatening one....

    A clarification and something I forgot: (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by scribe on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:13:26 PM EST
    1.  Clarification:  When I said "Joe and Jane Foreheads of the Talking Head Idiot Channels on cable", I was referring to no one person in particular.  I had in mind the generic empty-vessel-brained talking-head cable news commentator/news reader who was hired because he/she is very attractive to viewers in the targeted demo, speaks well, and sticks to the script.

    The Joes and Janes we know from the blogosphere are way too smart and prone to leaving the approved script to be hired by a cable channel.

    2.  The thing I forgot:  In short what you people reading this have to get through your collective thick heads is that it is long since past the time to be shying away from a fight.  You all talk about football or whatever sport, but if the teams you watched playing football shied away from contact or a fight the way some of you do, you wouldn't be watching them any more.

    Litigation or politics is much closer to a contact sport than any sitting around and deciding what the law is.  While I have a lot of respect for law professors telling me what they think the law is, in the main they get paid by the word and if they spew a lot of verbal wankery they don't get called on it and they don't lose their jobs over it.  They just come up with a new theory which is likely to never be tested.

    We who try cases know that no matter how much "law" you might have on your side, if you don't stand up for it and go toe to toe with your adversary, all that law is just funny-shaped marks on paper.  Figuring out what the "right result" is at the beginning and then adopting that as your position, against an adversary who wants something more favorable to themselves than the "right result" would give them, only means that the adversary is going to move the "right result" in their direction.  Go toe to toe enough times and your adversary will fear/respect you enough to not try to steal you blind.

    So, stop being such softies.  Save the softy stuff for playing with your pets at home.  If you're against Blago and the apparent corruption  for which he stands, then raise holy hell about it.  That does not preclude making clear - as Obama and Reid did - that it's not about Burris but about how it got to be Burris.  But don't undercut the anti-Blago arguments.



    Delusional (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by Upstart Crow on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:16:21 PM EST
    Pardon me, but I think if you think BHO's reaction to all this is high-mindedness, you are seriously delusional.

    I think everyone connected with Chicago politics -- BHO included -- is wondering where they are on the thousands of hours of tapes.

    I think they are all wondering what Blago is going to spill, and on whom.


    Exactly right! (5.00 / 2) (#33)
    by pmj6 on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:19:23 PM EST
    Obama went through the Illinois political scene like a greased lightning. He must have been extremely apt at playing those games...

    I don't think I said it was (none / 0) (#35)
    by scribe on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:24:23 PM EST
    "high-mindedness" but rather I said it was the effective practice of politics.  As in, unifying a party so as to be able to get things done with a unified party.

    And that means, sometimes, breaking some heads (figuratively speaking).

    As to Blago spilling - it's a given he will start making up stories or telling stories once it becomes clear to him that the noose is closing on his neck.  I have little doubt he is as skilled as Rove - who, you'll recall, managed to find a way to talk himself out of a perjury and obstruction of justice indictment despite being a prime suspect in the Libby case - when it comes to making up a bogus story and selling it.  But the market has discounted and will continue to discount the value of Blago spewing stories - true or otherwise - against anyone.  It will doubtless make great theater, but he will find himself entitled to no more credibility than those guys who come in to the police station and confess to every gruesome murder because they have a mental disease which makes them feel they have to confess to everything.  The cops don't believe them and they won't believe Blago, either.


    Bogus? I think not. (5.00 / 2) (#36)
    by Upstart Crow on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:28:38 PM EST
    I trust Fitz to sift through bogus stories. I think Blago will have enough real stories to tell without having to rely on fiction.

    If you think this is going to bring the party together, I think that is a second delusion. A big one.  According to the earlier thread, Chicago African-Americans, and African-Americans around the country, are having a serious reaction to the refusal to seat Burris. (And no, I don't think through them another black substitute politician will make them happy again.)


    Bobby Rush, for one... (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by pmj6 on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:31:26 PM EST
    ...likely has not forgotten how Obama tried to prematurely end his political career.

    If Blagojevich is as clever as you think he is... (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by pmj6 on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:29:32 PM EST
    ...then he probably has much more than just his word to give to federal prosecutors. I mean, he has all but taunted the IL legislature to take him down, yet they've done nothing to even prevent him from appointing Obama's successor. That little statement about "dying to tell his side of the story" must have sent shivers up a lot of backsides...

    Rahm Emanuel... (5.00 / 2) (#42)
    by pmj6 on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:35:09 PM EST
    ...for one, likely would not be hiding out in Africa and otherwise studiously avoiding answering the questions of journalists if he felt Blago had nothing credible to say on this matter. For someone supposedly cleared by Obama's "internal investigation", he sure seems very afraid of his own shadow.

    Waste of time and resources (5.00 / 4) (#44)
    by ricosuave on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:03:01 PM EST
    What will stopping the appointment gain other than to be a tremendous waste of time and resources for the Senate Democrats?  Blagojevich's part in this is now done, and whether Burris is seated or not has no impact on Blago's corruption case (unless this appointment was paid for, which I have not heard anyone assert).

    And when does the Blago taint that we have to spend so much effort avoiding officially start?  Should we rescind every bill that Blago has signed into law in Illinois?  Should we tape together any ribbons he has cut in the last year?  If he has to declare some sort of state of emergency and deploy national guard for a disaster next week, should people refuse the blankets and sandbags? Back in October, Blagojevich (reluctantly) pardoned 4 men who had been exonerated of crimes--should they be asked to return to prison?

    Reid (and Obama) should say that while there is stink attached to Blagojevich, they will allow the legislature and Illinois secretary of state to take the lead on reacting to or blocking the appointment, and that they are ready to act in whatever legal means is at their disposal in concert with those state officials.  They should say that they have seen no evidence that Burris bought the seat (which I assume is true), but that any whiff of his (or anyone else's) having done so will immediately be taken up by the ethics committee and passed along to Fitzpatrick.  Then they should seat him and move on to something real.

    Of course, it may be too late for the Dems to take this course given the positions they have already taken.


    This is a tad harsh, IMO: (5.00 / 3) (#45)
    by oculus on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 11:19:36 PM EST
    In short what you people reading this have to get through your collective thick heads

    Wow, that is quite a stretch (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by BrassTacks on Fri Jan 02, 2009 at 02:02:47 AM EST
    I know the die hard Obama supporters are desperate to believe that he is not a Chicago pol, but really, he is.  

    Reid is saying this because he got backed into a corner by opening his mouth and saying he would make sure the Senate didn't seat ANY Blago choice.  Obama wants Harry and the democrats on his side, so he has to support clueless Harry, who never figured that the Governor would appoint the perfect candidate, a Black man who has never been accused of any wrong doing.  

    Score one for Blago
    Score Zero for Harry and Obama.  


    What was that phrase used on Gov. Palin? (none / 0) (#57)
    by pmj6 on Fri Jan 02, 2009 at 10:42:27 AM EST
    That she wasn't "properly vetted"?

    I kind of wonder what kind of vetting process Obama went through... So far it's looking like, none at all.


    Cave in? (5.00 / 2) (#25)
    by ricosuave on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:03:06 PM EST
    Why should we believe that this will be the first thing that the dems in the senate stick to their guns on?  Blago is odious and his choice is tainted, but my prediction (purely political, not legal at all) is that Reid, et al, will bluster a bit but won't have the C.O. Jones to bar him from walking in the door.  

    Reid is not going to allow himself to be compared to Orval Faubus and schoolhouse doors, and he is going to get an earful from Pelosi which is passing along from the Congressional Black Caucus (Burris would be the Senate Black Caucus).  

    I am sure that BTD's predictions here are correct: that the Senate democrats could tie him up in court for the next two years and seat a rival (though I am not clear on how that person will be legally appointed if Blagojevich doesn't resign).  But I don't believe that they will do that.

    On the other hand, dealing with this issue will be an enormous waste of time for the Dem leadership, taking them away from real issues like the economy and healthcare.  From that point of view, maybe it will be in character for them to hang tough...

    I tend to agree... (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by pmj6 on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:08:27 PM EST
    ...but of course it would be nice if for once the Dems could "hang tough" on an issue of some political consequence.

    I agree on Reid's inherent weakness, even Lieberman's "talking to" amounted to exactly nothing. I really don't see Reid sticking to his guns on this issue either, esp. as it threatens to drive a wedge into the African-American segment of Obama's coalition of voters. I doubt Obama wants one of his first official acts to be preventing an African-American from entering the US Senate.


    Would be great... (5.00 / 2) (#40)
    by ricosuave on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:33:15 PM EST
    but I'm not so sure this is actually of political consequence.  I think Blagojevich read Imperium by Robert Harris (great author and great book, if you are not familiar with either).  This line in the novel from Cicero (but which is probably fictional) springs to mind:
    Sometimes...if you find yourself stuck in politics, the thing to do is start a fight--start a fight, even if you do not know how you are going to win it, because it is only when a fight is on, and everything is in motion, that you can hope to see your way through.

    Blagojevich (probably) didn't make this appointment to fulfill a political payoff of any kind...he did it to stir up trouble and he seems to have gotten what he wanted.

    He made a point. (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by Fabian on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:47:15 PM EST
    He still has power.  He is still a player.  Sure things might go pear shaped in the not too distant future, but he is conceding nothing right now.

    I'm thinking Obama will soon (none / 0) (#31)
    by oculus on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:16:35 PM EST
    "reach across the aisle" to resolve this as quickly and quitely as possible.  

    Then he needs to stop making (none / 0) (#48)
    by BrassTacks on Fri Jan 02, 2009 at 02:08:16 AM EST
    Statements to the contrary.  

    Hasn't stopped him before this, (5.00 / 1) (#58)
    by oculus on Fri Jan 02, 2009 at 12:37:24 PM EST
    has it?  

    I will support a filibuster of FISA.


    No, it is not true that he was caught on tape (5.00 / 1) (#54)
    by ericinatl on Fri Jan 02, 2009 at 09:04:02 AM EST
    trying to sell the Senate seat.  He was caught on tape saying he wants to sell the Senate seat.  

    That's a lot different than a tape where there's an actual transaction where there is a buyer and a seller.  What Blago was "caught" doing is not a crime.  

    Moreover, it's exactly what any other governor would do - he has something of value to give, and in return he'll want something politically value in return.  If you think governors are just going to give away Senate seats, without thought of what they can get in return, politically, you are incredibly naive (and don't belong in politics).

    It's unclear whether Blago ever would have committed a crime with respect to the Senate seat.  Political favors in return for a Senate seat are okay, cash is not.

    But what seems to offend people about Blago is not that he committed a crime or is immoral -- it's that he's so "crass" about it.  The elites hate nothing more than crassness.  Which says more about them, than Blago.

    Um (none / 0) (#55)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Fri Jan 02, 2009 at 09:14:18 AM EST
    You go with that distinction if you like.

    Do you think Digby (none / 0) (#1)
    by andgarden on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 08:51:12 PM EST
    is one of those white liberals to whom Welsh is referring? Personally, I think she's made of stronger stuff; she's just got her analysis wrong.

    I agree with the part I quoted (none / 0) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 08:52:49 PM EST
    heh, ok (none / 0) (#3)
    by andgarden on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 08:57:14 PM EST
    to bother Jane again (none / 0) (#6)
    by lilburro on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 09:21:45 PM EST
    she comments:

    How will it look if the Sergent-at-arms bars Burris, but did nothing to Harriet Miers and Karl Rove?

    How will it look if they refuse to accept Burris in the Democratic Caucus, after they accepted Lieberman?

    How does it look to be screaming about Burris's "taint" when they did nothing for decades about Ted Stevens, and gave him a standing ovation even after he'd been convicted?

    How does it look now that Reid is manipulating Senate procedure to exlude Burris, but rolled over on Alito, FISA, and the Military Commissions Act?

    I think the potential political damage is way more severe than Harriet Miers and FISA.  More people know who Blago is than Miers.  More people know more about Blago than FISA.  And it's not like Blago is going away from our TVs anytime soon.  Why attach yourself to a sinking ship?

    Also does Burris REALLY think that walking to the Senate, with BLAGO BY HIS SIDE (as some reports suggest might happen) is going to play well?  I would think Dems (some at least) would be p*ssed about that for a long, long time.

    Finally... I still don't understand this notion that Dems somewhere are talking about not accepting Burris, if seated, into their caucus.  Does anyone know about this?  Is this a misunderstanding of Reid's language in his recent letter?  Or are there other citations?  Digby in her post quotes Durbin from Dec 31st:

    Dick Durbin: (video) ...What we saw today was an act of political defiance despite the fact that the Democratic caucus has stated clearly that they will not seat his choice for that position.

    He is referring to the letter Reid sent on the 10th of December, signed by everyone in the Caucus.  He is referring to Burris being seated in the Senate at all, not being accepted into the Caucus once seated.  The Democratic Caucus has the numbers to ensure Burris is not seated in the Senate.  I would think that if a court compelled them to accept Burris they would do so.  If Burris gets seated, he joins the caucus.  But the Democratic Caucus will not seat him unless they are compelled to do so by another court of law.

    Cornyn gets it too.  IMO, the Republicans know they don't have to do jack to get rid of Burris unless they feel they have to.  They are very much saying "not my problem."  Let the Dem caucus deal with it.

    The USSC.... (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by pmj6 on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 09:26:18 PM EST
    ...will most likely allow Burris to take his seat in the US Senate, which means a big egg on the face of Reid et al. Better to let the guy take his place and the controversy to blow over because nothing good can come out of it for the Democrats.

    Solution for the future: it would be nice for the Democratic Party to avoid association with crooks the likes of Blagojevich... He was a fine Democrat in good standing all the way until Fitzpatrick's criminal complaint...


    Yup. (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by Fabian on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 09:58:14 PM EST
    I really want to feel some sympathy for the IL Dems, but I keep wondering why they had to CYA.  This isn't about finding and getting rid of corruption, this is about saving their political posteriors.  In that respect, they are every bit as self serving as Blagojevich.

    I tend to think of the Burris fiasco as small potatoes.  The IL Dems are just very, very lucky they have two years before the next election to clean up their images and redeem themselves.  


    You'd think that... (5.00 / 2) (#26)
    by pmj6 on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:03:23 PM EST
    ...if they were serious about taking out Blagojevich, they could have at the very least passed a law requiring a special election and thus take this power out of Blago's hands. But that didn't happen. Probably because there are quite a few people in that legislature that Blagojevich could take down with him, if crossed...

    But it's too late, the damage has been done the day Blago was accepted with open arms into the Democratic Party, and then advanced from one position to the next.


    To your last bit (none / 0) (#11)
    by andgarden on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 09:29:05 PM EST
    of course it's about the whole Senate. The "Democratic Caucus" thing is a red herring that Jane has used to bring up Holy Joe again.

    I certainly doubt (5.00 / 3) (#15)
    by lilburro on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 09:31:54 PM EST
    that when people think of Burris the next person they think will be Lieberman...

    I'm no Lieberman fan (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Fabian on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:01:49 PM EST
    but Lieberman/Burris is such a ridiculous comparison.  Burris and the to-be-appointed Senator from NY is a better comparison.  LDS?

    LDS (none / 0) (#38)
    by lilburro on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:29:56 PM EST
    Lieberman just doesn't get under my skin the way he does others.  I don't think there's anything wrong with pursuing Lieberman and making sure he doesn't get another term.

    But what on earth Burris has to do with Lieberman is beyond me.  This is about Blago.  Plus people talking about Lieberman as a traitor just lends a stink to this that it doesn't deserve (it stinks on its own, thanks).  This isn't about being a traitor. This is about being a criminal.  This is about Blago.


    The only connection I make (none / 0) (#28)
    by ricosuave on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:10:49 PM EST
    is that the Dem leadership didn't have the guts (or perhaps the desire) to punish Lieberman for backing the opposition, so why do we think they will have the guts to follow through on Burris.  Otherwise, there is no real analogy here--Lieberman bolted the party (and retained Obama's endorsement over Democrat and anti-war candidate Ned Lamont almost up until the election by the way) and then supported the Republican presidential candidate, but he was legally elected.

    Different problem (none / 0) (#32)
    by pmj6 on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:17:22 PM EST
    Nobody was talking about kicking him out of the Senate, only of stripping him of committee chairmanships, a much milder punishment. Yet even in the face of Lieberman's active defiance of the Democratic Party with which it caucuses, Reid did nothing to hold him to account.

    A new hat in the ring (none / 0) (#13)
    by lilburro on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 09:30:01 PM EST
    Kagro X weighs in.

    I think that's pretty even-handed (none / 0) (#14)
    by andgarden on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 09:31:05 PM EST
    But I also think that we're never going to get to the expulsion stage.

    If We're Talking Morals Here, Then WTF? (none / 0) (#20)
    by kaleidescope on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 09:55:26 PM EST
    The substance of what Blago did is really not morally different from what most politicians do via the legal bribery known as campaign finance and the First Amendment.  What were the Republican "K" Street Project and Rahm Emmanual's Democratic adjunct to the "K" Street Project about anyway?  Blago was just arrogant and stupid enough to openly talk about the quids and quos instead of just letting experienced politicians read between the lines.  He forgot to talk like Tony Soprano.

    In that twisted sense, Blago is more honest than someone like (Up)Chuck Schumer.

    The Senate Democrats -- almost all of whom along with their Republican colleagues have done many times over what Blago was taped doing -- are clutching their pearls and rending their garments over precisely what?  Certainly it isn't their sense of moral outrage.  More likely it is their fear of flapping TV gasbag tongues.

    So I don't see why we should come up with the legal equivalent of Ptolemaic astronomy just to keep Burris out of the Senate.  There's certainly no moral imperative.  Not as long as I have to drive past a clear cut, formerly known as a forest, that was brought to us by a timber harvest plan approved in the face of all science because the company owner had dinner with the Governor and then made $50,000 in contributions to Gray Davis's favored legislative candidates.  Or as long as we have to read about lack of regulation of the financial services industry brought to us by $100 million in campaign contributions to most of Burris's putative colleagues in Congress.

    Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell and their entire ship of fools are almost all Blago's moral equivalents.

    There's no more moral imperative to keep Burris out of the Senate than there would be a moral imperative to keep one more turd out of the septic tank.

    Pearl clutching... (none / 0) (#41)
    by Ismelldogma on Thu Jan 01, 2009 at 10:34:52 PM EST
    Q: What is politics, and what do elected officials of both parties do when they are not screwing the public?

    A: They are doing what Blago was doing with a bit more finesse.

    I'm surprised anyone's offended at Blago when when half of the Dems voted for Iraq, and pine for a specially intimate relationship with Israel...


    if blago had anything (none / 0) (#46)
    by cpinva on Fri Jan 02, 2009 at 12:23:58 AM EST
    worth while spilling, it would have been spilled by now, in an effort to work out a deal with fitz. he's got............nothing. zero, nada, zilch.

    if he had, it would already have been all over the airwaves, papers and cyber space. it isn't, he doesn't.

    being a sleazy politician (pardon my redundancy) and a corrupt one aren't mutually inclusive. add to that blago's just outright stupidity, and he's taken the art of corruption to a new low. he can't even do that right!

    he'll be gone, within two weeks. burris won't get seated, and the current lt. gov. will appoint someone else.

    Who will make him leave in two weeks? (5.00 / 3) (#49)
    by BrassTacks on Fri Jan 02, 2009 at 02:16:58 AM EST
    And why would he?  If he resigns, that's an admission of guilt.  He will never do that.  He wants his day in court, with his high paid attorney.  Blago isn't going anywhere and Burris will be seated.  The Senate has little choice.  

    What a crummy way for the new Senate to begin, off on the wrong foot.  Obama needs to STAY OUT OF IT, so that he doesn't look as bad as the Senate in this fiasco.


    the ill. legislature, by impeaching him. (none / 0) (#51)
    by cpinva on Fri Jan 02, 2009 at 06:01:17 AM EST
    Who will make him leave in two weeks?

    were he a person capable of shame, they could pressure him (like the republicans did nixon) to resign. he'll have to be impeached instead.

    but, impeached he will be, bet on it. ok, it might take a wee bit longer than two weeks, perhaps three. if they were really, really good, they could just isolate him in his office, ignoring his very existence.

    sadly, they aren't that good.

    I was thinking Fitz could work on (5.00 / 1) (#52)
    by scribe on Fri Jan 02, 2009 at 07:12:41 AM EST
    getting his bail/ROR revoked.  Let him try to govern from inside....  That'd be amusing.

    And, as to those who say "the Ill. Legislature could pass a law", I have to ask:

    and when Blago vetoes it, what then?

    I figure the pass-a-law folks would likely talk about "overriding" the veto but, seriously, how many of the Republicans in the Ill. legislature are going to cross the aisle to help a Democrat?  Particularly when Blago is such great theater?

    My problem with the Senate getting involved (none / 0) (#53)
    by DFLer on Fri Jan 02, 2009 at 07:29:57 AM EST
    in Burris is that the Repugs have already threatened to prevent the seating of Franken, should he be sent to Washington at this time.

    Shouldn't this all be left to the states?

    Racism Issue? Come on! (none / 0) (#56)
    by KKChicago on Fri Jan 02, 2009 at 10:13:30 AM EST
    This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever read in my life!  THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH RACE OR RACISM!  This is about corruption in government, especially in Illinois government.  Everyone was told that whomever Governor Blagojevich picked would not be recognized and would be blocked from the Senate.  Hello?  Before we even knew who he was going to pick, we already knew they weren't going to be accepted as the new Senator to take Obama's place.  Even Obama, a "black, African American" man, told Blagojevich to resign and leave the selection to someone with credibility to actually choose a candidate.  The fact that Burris even accepted Blagojevich's offer is absurd and suspicious.  Did the corrupt politicians of this country forget that we elected them?  If we don't want Blagojevich to pick our new Senator, we don't have to accept it!  In my opinion, this pick, by Blagojevich and with Burris accepting the offer, seems like a dirty political tactic that should be reviewed closely by everyone, including the people of this state!

    Speaking for myself to express my own opinions on this ridiculous issue!