Breaking: Blagojevich appoints former Illinois attorney general to Senate seat; Update: “Unacceptable,” says Reid; Update: Can the Senate refuse to seat Burris?
He’s facing impeachment and federal prison, and both the Illinois legislature and Harry Reid warned him not to make the pick. His lawyer insisted that he wouldn’t. What’s a delusional narcissist to do? Why, make the pick, of course. Blagomania!
Gov. Rod Blagojevich is expected today to name former Illinois Atty. Gen. Roland Burris to replace President-elect Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate…
Shortly after Obama’s Nov. 4 victory, Burris made known his interest in an appointment to the Senate but was never seriously considered, according to Blagojevich insiders. But in the days following Blagojevich’s arrest, and despite questions over the taint of a Senate appointment, Burris stepped up his efforts to win the governor’s support.
Though he is 71, Burris has said that Obama’s replacement should be able to win re-election and he has noted that despite a string of primary losses in races ranging from Chicago mayor to governor and U.S. senator, he’s never lost to a Republican…
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada previously warned Blagojevich, following the governor’s Dec. 9 arrest, that Senate Democrats would not seat any appointment the two-term Democratic governor made. Reid’s warning was contained in a letter signed by all 50 sitting Democratic senators, including the No. 2 Democrat in Senate leadership, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois.
He was state comptroller for 12 years and AG for four in the mid-nineties, then lost a bunch of mayoral and gubernatorial primaries. That’s all I know about him — except, of course, that he’ll now be the Senate’s only black member, leaving Reid in a simply glorious predicament of whether to seat him or not. Why he might: Obama’s seat is up for reelection in just two years, and given Burris’s low profile and history of losing to more popular Democrats, he’d be an especially weak incumbent in the primary. Reid could seat him secure in the belief that Democratic voters will pick someone they prefer soon enough and that the nominee will romp to victory in the general after a few campaign appearances on his behalf from The One. Why he might not: According to Geraghty, Burris is a donor to Blago and a crony of his political allies. That’s probably enough of a taint to justify rejecting him, his Absolute Moral Authority notwithstanding. Exit question: What’ll Reid do?
Update: If the point was to call Reid’s bluff by appointing someone he dare not reject, why not really go for it and appoint Oprah? She’s America’s pope! Poprah!
Update: The only thing that could make this sweeter is if Blago opens the presser by saying the idea came to him in a dream or that God told him to do it or something. This crazy goes to 11.
Update: There’s actually an easy way for Reid to get cover on the identity politics of this: Just have Obama issue a statement that Burris is a fine public servant but that the appointment is so irredeemably tainted that the only solution is a special election.
Update: Total clusterfark — Reid says no deal. Good lord, the press conference this afternoon should be dynamite.
Update: Who wrote this chummy little farewell?
“As sons of immigrants to this country, you and I have a deep appreciation for the opportunities America provides to those who are willing to work hard and sacrifice for their children.”
Update: Better and better and better: During the 1998 gubernatorial race, Burris was evidently caught on tape calling two of his opponents “non-qualified white boys.”
In 1969, the Supreme Court ruled that the House of Representatives could not refuse to seat Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr., a New York Democrat who was accused of putting his wife on the payroll and misusing travel funds to vacation in the Caribbean. Despite those charges, he had been reelected by his constituents in Harlem.
“The Constitution does not vest in the Congress a discretionary power to deny membership by majority vote,” wrote Chief Justice Earl Warren. Congress may “judge only the qualifications set forth in the Constitution,” he said.
The qualifications are minimal. A senator must be at least 30 years old, a U.S. citizen and “an inhabitant” of the state.
They might have the authority to challenge the appointment on whether or not it’s legally valid, but there’s no raging dispute about that in this case as far as I know. Until Blago’s impeached, he’s the governor, and it’s the governor’s call to make. Glorious secondary exit question: Are we headed for a bona fide constitutional showdown in the Supreme Court over this idiocy?