Senate Dems Blunder On Blago/Burris

Unlike John Cole, I thought the Senate Dems were taking the proper course, as a matter of law and politics, in not seating any appointment to the vacant Senate Illinois seat by Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, who has been credibly accused of trying to sell the appointment. But Cole is right about this:

Harry Reid has now, according to this [Gallup] poll . . . helped create popular support for Burris to not be seated. Since Burris will be seated anyway, these people will be pissed, Reid will look like a clown for being rolled over and put in his place by Blagojevich, and Republicans, with an assist from the Democrats who ran around calling Burris tainted for several weeks, will now claim Democrats are just as corrupt as Republicans. . . You couldnít game out a worse scenario for the Democrats . . . If you could be sued for political malpractice, I would be leading a class action suit against the Democratic leadership right now.

More . . .

Once the Senate Dems announced their principle that any Blago appointed was tainted, they are stuck with it. Seating Burris now is the worst possible step politically. If he was going to be seated anyway, then Dems should never have staked out a position. Political malpractice indeed.

Speaking for me only

< The Blago/Burris Drama Only Begins | HuffPo: Obama told Senate Dems To Seat Burris >
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    We go into congress (5.00 / 7) (#1)
    by andgarden on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:19:23 AM EST
    With the idiots we have.

    Unitary Executive! (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:21:42 AM EST
    ...not the idiots we wish we had... (none / 0) (#30)
    by pmj6 on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 12:05:20 PM EST
    Sadly true. (none / 0) (#61)
    by BrassTacks on Thu Jan 08, 2009 at 02:47:51 AM EST
    We ALL saw this train wreck coming, all except dopey Harry.  

    Just so. Except that (5.00 / 5) (#3)
    by Cream City on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:22:16 AM EST
    Reid also has created some popular support for Burris, from what I see.  And divided the Dem leadership, with Feinstein already ticked at the mishandling of the Panetta appointment and majority whip Clyburn and other members of the Congressional Black Caucus speaking up for Burris.

    And Reid also ticked off Julian Bond and the NAACP, and in its centennial year when it already is slated to get even more publicity than usual.

    Amazing, all that Reid can accomplish so soon.

    exactly (5.00 / 3) (#36)
    by jedimom on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 12:24:34 PM EST
    another embarrassing incident thanks to Reid's ineptness. He doesn't seem to learn that you don't climb out on a limb unless you are either absolutely sure it is stable, or in the case of Reid at least, willing to take the fall. No he points fingers and backtracks in his inept fashion.

    His latest stmt is to Politico that Coleman will never,l ever ever be seated. Okay Harry. Never one to keep his mouth shut and wait for the legal rulings is he?


    Doesn't Reid EVER get sick of being WRONG?!!! (none / 0) (#64)
    by BrassTacks on Thu Jan 08, 2009 at 02:57:50 AM EST
    He's an accident waiting to happen.  One misstep after another!  He's making us look like fools.  I want him GONE.  We need someone better than Harry.

    the man's a dynamo! (5.00 / 2) (#41)
    by ruffian on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 12:29:50 PM EST
    You a big fan of Clyburn now? (none / 0) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:25:02 AM EST

    Absolutely not. Don't be ridiculous. (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Cream City on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:28:13 AM EST
    I'm not a fan of Reid, either.  You're seeing things?  But only some things?  Interesting, too.

    I am a fan of reading comprehension, though, so tell me what I reported above suggests such a silly statement.


    Just asking (none / 0) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:29:49 AM EST
    since I noted your mention of Clyburn's position on the matter.

    My own view is that Clyburn's position on the matter was irrelevant.


    The majority whip is not irrelevant (5.00 / 3) (#16)
    by Cream City on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:39:01 AM EST
    nor is one of the most powerful African Americans in Congress and thus in the country, much as I might wish to wish Clyburn out of my life.

    I just reported what I read, much as I did yesterday, when you called it "race baiting."  If that is the change we have been waiting for in this country, I wish that nonsense out of my life as well.  But the country got what it wished for with that.  I'll just continue to call it out and call 'em as I see 'em and read 'em.  


    He is compeltely irrelevant to the Senate (none / 0) (#20)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:42:46 AM EST
    That's an irrelevant answer (5.00 / 1) (#56)
    by Cream City on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 08:18:20 PM EST
    as it only answers part of what I wrote.  Par for the course.

    You forgot the Black Caucus (none / 0) (#62)
    by BrassTacks on Thu Jan 08, 2009 at 02:49:04 AM EST
    Harry has made his mark on them too!  

    conversely (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Jlvngstn on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:25:34 AM EST
    had they argued that the governor has a right to appoint the seat as he has not been found guilty of anything, the right wing would be pounding on a daily basis the corrupt nature of democrats and their inability to control a corrupt governor.  Blago put them in this position and there is no one to blame but him.  let Burris have his seat and get booted out in two years by the voting public.  

    Unemployment is at a historic high and getting worse. The bank bailout is doing little if nothing to stimulate the economy, the senate and the house have more significant issues with the economy, job  loss, healthcare, social security, medicare and two wars that are quagmired.  

    Let the republicans rant about Burris and Blago and let the democrats who are basically in charge, start to prove that their platform has some meat to it.  

    I would say this is a pimple on an elephant's arse comparatively speaking but even that may be an overstatement.  

    I believe blogs are playing a more significant role in what gets covered in the MSM and it would be nice to blogs covering the issues that matter to people, especially those who are worried about their homes, finances and health.....

    Hmm conversely is inappropriate here (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:28:46 AM EST
    as the Senate Dems could have stuck to the principle they enunciated.

    As for sticking to stories people care about, I will be sticking to college football for the next few days.

    Starting now.


    Wish I Liked Football (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by squeaky on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 12:18:47 PM EST
    And I am starting to understand why it so interesting to some..

    Watching the Senate fold is getting really boring at best.


    i did not mean to imply (none / 0) (#17)
    by Jlvngstn on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:39:11 AM EST
    that you should not be covering it, however I do not think you would argue that it is no where near as pressing as job loss, healthcare and economic strife.  

    I think your voice is bigger than this issue and I think it a waste to spend time on it although you and I have differed greatly on how you should spend your time.

    I think sticking to your first reaction is not always the best answer, especially in this case for the democrats.  If the repubs want to make an issue of Burris for 6 months, let them.  The country will not care as most want their elected reps to do something about the stagnant economy.

    I love Tebow but I think your gators cannot pull it out tomorrow, although I am looking forward to a competitive and frankly exciting game.  There is a nice piece on Tebow on MSNBC today if you get a chance to look at it.


    No problem (none / 0) (#19)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:42:26 AM EST
    I was just stating a fact.

    Starting this afternoon, I will be in full BCS mode.


    Love to hear what that involves! (none / 0) (#22)
    by oculus on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:46:55 AM EST
    and your response was very tempered (none / 0) (#23)
    by Jlvngstn on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:48:36 AM EST
    considering I was telling you what to post, thanks for giving me the benefit of the doubt there.

    The response was very tempered (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by oculus on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:54:23 AM EST
    considering you opined the Gators are about to lose.

    lol (none / 0) (#42)
    by Jlvngstn on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 01:05:11 PM EST
    he is holding off the "you were wrong monkey boy" comment for Friday morning....

    It's on the donkey's arse, though. (5.00 / 4) (#13)
    by Cream City on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:31:24 AM EST
    The elephant in the room has stayed silent, as Steve M. has noted.  The GOP wins this one -- and awaits Reid's plan for a full Senate vote, so that the elephant can deplore the Dem debacles on live teevee, and in the early weeks of the new Obama administration.  It wasn't enough to steal the spotlight from Obama on his first full day in D.C.?  And again today, trumping his presser?

    The Senate donkeys are arses.


    Time for some leadership courses (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:26:39 AM EST
    or something, anything. This is pathetic :(  Can anyone picture the man with only half of Reid intelligence, Tom Delay, displaying this little leadership?

    I don't see all that intelligence (none / 0) (#65)
    by BrassTacks on Thu Jan 08, 2009 at 03:00:00 AM EST
    Reid is fooled, very time.  Tom Delay was not.  The hammer would never have been hood winked like Harry is, over and over and over.   I'm just not seeing where ol' Harry is all that intelligent.  

    Why is there truth in what you typed? (5.00 / 1) (#66)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Jan 08, 2009 at 10:11:05 AM EST
    Why do I just sit here and shake my head and wonder how we got here with these people?

    Feeling more that way with each day (none / 0) (#68)
    by BrassTacks on Sat Jan 10, 2009 at 02:39:44 AM EST
    Sigh................not quite what I had hope...........

    Well, no argument from me (5.00 / 4) (#7)
    by dk on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:28:12 AM EST
    on the point that this was political malpractice.

    But, I think the Gallup poll is not being read correctly.  52% of those polled think that a special election should be held.  My opinion is that people care less about whether Burris should or shouldn't be seated, but rather are (rightly, IMO) annoyed at the whole idea of senate appointments, as opposed to elections.  Sure, Blago may have tried to sell the seat, and that is a crime, but is it really much better for a few Democratic leaders to make the decision behind closed doors though promises of political favors or through political threats, as is probably the typical course of action?

    Common sense says that in this day and age it is ridiculous that senators should be chosen in this way.  IMO, that's the real message from the poll.

    Well (none / 0) (#12)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:30:45 AM EST
    That's an interpretation I suppose.

    Hardly one that should make you feel good about seating Burris though.


    Well, my position was (5.00 / 3) (#15)
    by dk on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:34:56 AM EST
    that, in the absence of evidence tainting Burris, the decision was for the Ill. legislature to make.  By not calling for a special election, they cast their lot.  

    Burris is tainted. (5.00 / 3) (#45)
    by caseyOR on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 03:26:53 PM EST
    The minute Roland Burris accepted this appointment from Rod Blagojevich he lost any claim to political integrity. And to then capitalize on the despicable race-baiting by Bobby Rush and others, while denying that he was doing so, just further highlights the absence of integrity on Burris' part.

    Despite the outcry from some quarters, this fight has nothing to do with African American representation in the Senate, and everything to do with ego and hubris. If it is true that Julian Bond, a man I have admired for so many years, is jumping on this bandwagon I am truly saddened.


    Politico spoke to Reid (5.00 / 5) (#9)
    by jbindc on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:28:17 AM EST
    And here's what Harry had to offer....

    Don't worry - Reid said he'll be around as Leader at least until 2015.

    This mess is completely Reid's doing.  Blago played him like a Stradivarius and lost.

    I repeat (none / 0) (#14)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:31:25 AM EST
    for the sake of the record, that EVERY DEMOCRATIC SENATOR signed the letter to Blagojevich.

    And Obama agreed. (5.00 / 2) (#27)
    by oldpro on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:53:28 AM EST
    Now they've left him hanging out there by himself.  Great.  Stoooopid.

    Yes.  It's political malpractice, start to finish.


    Left whom hanging out there? (5.00 / 1) (#54)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 07:30:50 PM EST
    Not Obama.  If anybody got left hanging out there by somebody, it was Reid who got left by Obama, who said no Blago appointee should be seated, and then changed his mind and told Reid, Durbin, et al, that they should give in and let him be seated.

    Please say it ain't so! (none / 0) (#63)
    by BrassTacks on Thu Jan 08, 2009 at 02:54:39 AM EST
    We cannot be stuck with dopey Harry for that long.  The man has reached his point of incompetence.  He's going to have all ten toes in his mouth by the end of this year.  

    GET THE HOOK!!!!!  


    Their blunder was overstepping. (5.00 / 2) (#18)
    by Radix on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:41:38 AM EST
    The Senate never had the authority to deny Burris. The States choose how they pick their representatives, the Senate is allowed to ensure that the State contest was fair, nothing more. It always boiled downed to proving Burris was in on the original charges against Blago.

    I do not share your view (none / 0) (#21)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:43:32 AM EST
    on the law.

    Fair enough. (none / 0) (#25)
    by Radix on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:50:39 AM EST
    I deeply regret I will never find (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by oculus on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:49:55 AM EST
    out how the current U.S. Supreme Court interprets "elections, and returns . . ."

    My guess would be that (none / 0) (#26)
    by Radix on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:52:20 AM EST
    appointments count as well.

    My guess is your guess is (none / 0) (#29)
    by oculus on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:57:18 AM EST
    probably correct, if the record included evidence in support of the conclusion the Governor's specific appointment of Burris was tainted.  

    Has Toobin weighed in?  Is this enough for a new bestseller?


    Toobin probably has weighed in, (none / 0) (#31)
    by Radix on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 12:07:01 PM EST
    although I don't read him much, so I not 100% on this. Bestseller, probably not, though I would suspect that it will make the moot(sp?) court rounds.

    He was funny last night (none / 0) (#33)
    by Cream City on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 12:10:39 PM EST
    about the appt of Sanjay Gupta as Surgeon General.  Toobin explained that he is just too busy, maybe writing that next bestseller, to accept the appt that he is sure is coming his way from Obama.

    As for the Senate debacle, Toobin sort of waffled, agreeing it is a debacle but agreeing that everybody has grounds, from Burris to Reid to Feinstein to . . . well, Toobin was just being such as agreeable fella.  It was so blah a discussion that I switched channels, yet again.


    He was probably watching college (none / 0) (#39)
    by oculus on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 12:28:50 PM EST
    basketball on his laptop.

    What the Dems should be doing (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by flyerhawk on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 12:08:41 PM EST
    is seating Burris as quickly as possible.  Get it done before the inauguration and move on.

    Why let this carry into mulitple news cycles.

    He is GOING to be seated.  It could be months or longer before Blago is replaced.  All the while Illinois will have 1 Senate representative.

    I am continually amazed by politicians who refuse to accept short term pain to avoid long term pain.

    exactly (none / 0) (#38)
    by jedimom on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 12:27:27 PM EST
    the economists do the same thing with the economy, they try to avoid normal economic cycle recessions and wind up running us into a ditch later...perverse isn't it?

    and what a way to start the 111th, we had wind at our backs and Reid immediately starts throwing around his imaginary weight, out of his weight class is Reid, the Senate simply does not have the power to deny a legally appointed Senator a seat...


    He's an albatross if (none / 0) (#43)
    by ThatOneVoter on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 01:33:07 PM EST
    Blago is impeached. Every day for months, he will dominate the news cycle, because the Republicans will talk about the "corrupt" appointment, and because Burris loves the spotlight.

    If Blago (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by flyerhawk on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 04:59:48 PM EST
    does get impeached THAT will be the story.

    If Burris quietly does his job as Senator and he isn't implicated in the scandal he will be a tangential story.  


    I bet he'll be impeached -- but (5.00 / 1) (#48)
    by Cream City on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 05:19:05 PM EST
    then we will have to go through reminding each other that is not the same as being convicted.

    See Clinton, Bill, huh?

    I keep seeing statements here, from our host and others, saying that Blago will be impeached, and that will be the end of it and get him out of office.  I thought this was a law blog, so maybe I've got it wrong, but I was taught that to be impeached means to be called to trial -- and that still meant innocent until proven guilty.


    Maybe the best thing about this blunder (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by KeysDan on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 12:23:47 PM EST
    is that it came so early.  With the short attention span of the media and the electorate, most of the damage will have faded and new matters will take its place by the time of the next election.  Cross your fingers.

    When it comes to congressional Democrats (5.00 / 3) (#44)
    by Trickster on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 02:28:31 PM EST
    One thing you can absolutely take to the bank, on any issue, is that the Democrats will roll over on their backs and start whimpering at the slightest hint of opposition.

    It's funny.  Democrats keep trying to co-opt GOP stances on policy issues like national security and crime so that they can "look tough."  What they don't seem to realize is that many voters - including, of significance, a disproportionate amount of undecided, or swing voters - don't know beans about policy or give two hoots about it.

    What voters DO recognize is the signs that politicians (and parties) emit that show what kind of people they are.  And Democrats consistently emit signals showing, verifying, and confirming that they are the hog-nosed snakes of American politics: first they threaten, then they play dead, and then when all else fails, they turn tail and run for it.

    The only thing saving the Democrats, as a party, is that the other side consistently emits signals that they are, not just criminals, but stupid criminals.  At least as of the moment, the American public seems to prefer the yellow-bellied cowards over the dim-witted thugs.

    And now Judicial Watch sues the Senate (5.00 / 0) (#46)
    by Cream City on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 04:05:36 PM EST
    and all involved in denying the seat to Burris, etc.

    What a pile-on this debacle has become.  All that's missing are the Repubs.  Oh wait, why do I think that they may have their fingerprints on this?

    A few things... (5.00 / 0) (#49)
    by blogname on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 06:11:11 PM EST
    First, I have never agreed with the legal arguments or the political arguments -- if politics had to do with the nation, rather than sticking it to Blagojevich.  The vast majority of constitutional law scholars who have addressed this issue believe that the Dems were on the wrong side of the law, and the sweeping claims to authority made the Reid would make for pretty dangerous precedent.  

    Second, although the Democrats come out looking pretty stupid and petty in this situation, they did it for a much bigger picture. As I have argued, it is not a coincidence that the Democrats' softening on Burris began the same day that Richardson announced he was pulling out of the confirmations process.  What do these things have to do with each other? Richardson had to pull out because the Republicans were going to make a big stink out of the investigation.  Even if there are no facts connecting Richardson to wrongdoing, the Democrats had just spent weeks arguing about "taint" exists even in the absence of any established facts. And this taint was so strong, it made Burris, whom no on has ever suspected of wrongdoing, an innappriate selection.  With this history, how on earth could the Democrats defend Richardson? More importantly, how on earth could the Democrats defend other persons who might get into hot water without "facts"?  So they caved in on Burris in order to silence the "taint" arugment which had become way too expansive and a potent tool for the GOP to stir up trouble during the confirmations process.

    Finally, I think Reid is somewhat of a fall guy here.  I believe that Obama desired certain people to fill the seat, but he had a bad relationship (that's probably too strong of a word) with Blagojevich.  When the arrest was made, Democrats used it as a way of getting their pick for the Senate. This explains the highly inflexible stance towards Burris.  From the very beginning, Obama spoke out -- condemning Blagojevich and insisting that he not fill the position - and once he did -- reiterating this position.  He is the president-elect, not a senator.  Why do all of this if he didn't have a preferred candidate?  Reid, however, has taken the heat because he was the only one who could implement the "Don't allow Blagojevich to fill the seat" plan.

    Actually (none / 0) (#51)
    by Steve M on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 06:44:25 PM EST
    I think you're wrong about what the vast majority of constitutional law scholars said, but if you want to start throwing names out there, I guess we can sort it out.

    Time for Reid to Punt ... (none / 0) (#37)
    by santarita on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 12:24:34 PM EST
    this to the Rules Committee to determine whether or not a full Senate vote is needed to seat Burris.  Rules Committee then votes, along party lines,  that a full Senate vote is not needed, that as long as Burris is properly credentialed, he will be a member of the Senate with the understanding that any allegations of Burris being criminally involved with Blago  that may come up in the Blago trial will be promptly investigated by the Senate Ethics Committee and that remedies such as removal will then be available.

    Having the Rules Committee handle this mess reduces the number of people talking about, it becomes boring and out of sight to the national audience until the decision is made.  It's over and done with unless Burris is somehow implicated in Blago's trial.

    Feinstein (none / 0) (#40)
    by jedimom on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 12:29:30 PM EST
    yes bit since Feinstein Chair fo ROOLZ has already said he should be seated, WTH is Reid saying it should go to a full Senate vote now? just stop digging and wait for the ruling, once it is signed by SoS, which it will be, then they should just seat him and be done with it, cut their losses as it were....

    Feinstein No Longer Rules Committee Chair (none / 0) (#50)
    by kaleidescope on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 06:34:52 PM EST
    The new chair is (Up)Chuck Schumer.  That is unless the Republicans filibuster the new Senate organizing resolution.

    Cole's only about three years late (none / 0) (#52)
    by lambert on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 07:04:53 PM EST
    Remember They are advocates. We are leaders? That was 2007. Impeachment had been off the table since 2006...

    Blood boiling all over again. (none / 0) (#53)
    by oculus on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 07:20:23 PM EST
    Two wrongs make political right? (none / 0) (#55)
    by atlanta lawyer on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 08:01:21 PM EST
    The most ridiculous part to me (an after I mentioned this to a co-worker, he said Glenn Beck is making the same point.  Even bad dogs have their day) is the rumors that Democrats might concede if Burris agrees not to run in 2010.  They are willing to trade the Senate seat now for the political favor of him not running later. So they refuse to seat Burris because Blago is tainted but if he agrees to taint himself further then he's acceptable? And voters are going to like that?

    There would be no taint (none / 0) (#58)
    by Steve M on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 09:21:37 PM EST
    in promising not to run again.  You seriously believe that would be corrupt?

    He's either entitled to the position or he isn't. (5.00 / 0) (#59)
    by atlanta lawyer on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 10:11:17 PM EST
    Why is there talk of a trade? I'm not saying it would be a crime. I'm saying that they refused to seat Burris, who has done nothing wrong, b/c Blago may have tried to sell to someone else. Now there's an offer for a quid quo pro: "you give us what we want politically, and we'll ignore our supposed scrupples." Does that really say the Democrats are concerned about the integrity of the Senate? NO, it says they are most concerned about winning the seat in 2010. Burris will have gotten the seat, not because he was legitimately appointed and recognized, but because he traded for it.

    Well (none / 0) (#60)
    by Steve M on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 11:36:29 PM EST
    that's an extremely weak attempt to construct a quid pro quo IMO.

    BTD 0-2 in same period (none / 0) (#57)
    by pluege on Wed Jan 07, 2009 at 09:14:42 PM EST
    unheard of.

    Hillary Clinton (none / 0) (#67)
    by diogenes on Fri Jan 09, 2009 at 10:47:51 PM EST
    I bet Hillary is wishing that she hadn't been appointed secretary of state so that she could be staging a coup against this clown Reid right now.
    Or was that the point of Obama choosing her?  :)