Friday, January 9, 2009

"Blagojemess" update: Why Roland Burris is in like Flynn

Roland "I am the Senator" Burris has good reason to look so confident

Today, the Illinois House of Representatives voted 114-1 to impeach Governor Rod Blagojevich. Meanwhile, the state's Supreme Court declined to order Secretary of State, Jesse White, to sign the certificate by which Blago appointed Roland Burris to fill Barack Obama's Senate seat, but also ruled that the appointment document was valid without the Secretary of State's signature. White reiterated that he would not sign the Governor's certificate of appointment as a matter of principle.

Apparently clutching at this last remaining straw, Senator Dick Durbin said later in the day that the Senate still would not accept Burris without White's precious signature. But White, who said the other day that the Senate was making him the "fall guy," announced that he was sending his own separate document to the Senate stating that Burris's appointment document is "true and accurate." And Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan declared that White was no longer an obstacle to Burris being seated, which was up to the Senate. Perhaps confused by all this, a spokesman for Majority Leader Harry Reid said Friday evening that various Senate functionaries had to advise "the Senate Leadership as we consider a way forward."

Reid and Durbin could use some good advice. According to, some Democrats are angry at the botching of the Burris affair and are blaming Reid, Durbin and Obama.

Maybe White's separate certification will so obviously overcome grounds for Senate resistance that the issue will be gone by morning. Still, what Reid and Durbin tried to do earlier today, after learning of the impeachment vote, was to put the issue into a holding pattern to see: (1) if the impeachment vote leads to enough pressure on Blago to get him to resign; (fat chance); or (2) how fast the Illinois Senate moves toward a conviction and Blago's removal from office (beats me). If it looks as if Blago is going to be out and Lt. Governor Pat Quinn is going to be in quickly enough to head off further distracting theatrics involving Burris, Reid, Durbin and company may figure that they can stall long enough for Quinn to decide the matter.

But here's the thing. Is Quinn, who will immediately be looking to boost himself for election to a full term as Governor, really want to appoint someone other than Burris? If he appoints, say, Lisa Madigan or Tammy Duckworth, both of whom are reported to be among the favorites but neither of whom is black, he will be feeding himself into a buzz saw, as Illinois' large African-American constituency rallies around Burris as the legitimate appointee. If he tries to dodge that bullet by appointing another African-American, unless Burris collapses and withdraws (not likely for a man who's shown such spunk), Quinn will be setting up a black-on-black legal and political battle for which he'll get no kudos from black voters. In either case, a prolonged court contest over who is the rightful senator will ensue, keeping the national spotlight on the Blagojemess, as Barack Obama tries to move his program ahead. In the end, the courts will almost certainly decide that Burris' appointment is the valid one.So the only course available to Governor Quinn that wouldn't make him enemies, wouldn't cast a shadow over Obama's honeymoon period, and wouldn't result in an ultimate defeat would be to appoint Roland Burris again!

As I said, that means Burris is in like Flynn.

1 comment:

  1. I agree. There's no way Reid is going to exclude Burris.