The [Friday] Papers
BREAKING 10:26 A.M.: Governor Impeached. More below.
BREAKING 1:10 P.M.: Illinois Supreme Court Backs White On Burris. More below.
BREAKING 2:53 P.M.: Blago Speaks. More below.
As I've already noted, some commentators - including Eric Zorn - have advised seating Roland Burris in the U.S. Senate in order to make this mess go away, based in part on the belief that "he'll be a reliable Democratic vote" and will have no chance at winning re-election in 2010 anyway.
I beg to differ.
First, the idea that Burris is acceptable because he'll be a reliable Democratic vote is setting the bar awfully low. Why not just elect a robot?
Illinois has already gone without a second senator ever since Barack Obama was elected to that august body in 2004 and - according to his own advisers - crafted his agenda entirely around his future presidential campaign.
Facing two more years of caretaker service is a mockery. A U.S. senator does more than just show up for close votes. What committees would Burris sit on? What issues will he prioritize? What level of constituent service will he and his office deliver? Will he be accepted by his colleagues or rendered completely ineffective?
Second, who's to say he won't win re-election?
"Burris has become a national cause celebre, so he ought to be able to raise lots of early campaign money from African Americans throughout the country," Rich Miller writes today in "Burris Could Win Full Term In 2010."
"And because 46 percent of Illinois Democrats support his appointment, the move wasn't as unpopular with his party as some (like me) assumed."
Burris, who hails from downstate Centralia, has won statewide before - as he reminds us ad nauseum. He's also lost a string of elections, but almost all in Democratic primaries.
Will another African American emerge to challenge Burris in a primary, or will African Americans coalesce around Burris? And what white Democrat will have the stomach to challenge Burris, especially given the general consensus including white Democrats that, all things considered, the seat should probably remain in the hands of a person of color post-Obama.
Burris is (rightly so) a joke to many pundits and political professionals, but so was Todd Stroger (and Michael Flanagan, for that matter, just to assure you I don't mean that in a racial way).
In my book, giving Burris the power of incumbency makes him the favorite - in the Dem primary at least - in 2010, for which fundraising starts any day now.
As for the general election, Burris will have the power of Obama behind him if history is any guide. Obama always endorses the hack Machine incumbent. There's no reason to expect that to change.
We just went through a spate of moralizing by the pundits about how corruption in Illinois is the voters' faults, and they have to throw the bums out, but now we're told to let another bum in. Where does it end?
I mean, my God, both the Tribune and Sun-Times endorsed Dan Lipinski's latest re-election bid. I wouldn't be surprised to see them endorse Burris in 2010. They'll say he entered the job amid tough circumstances but has proven himself a pragmatic, hard worker. And that will be that. And when the next governor is indicted, the pundits and editorial boards will wonder why the culture of sleaze survives in this state - even as they enable it.
About That Racial Door Prize
David Rutter's article "Roland's Racial Door Prize" nails the unethical and objectionable nature of Roland Burris's appointment to the U.S. Senate seat. It's not just that a criminally corrupt governor is making the appointment: He is installing a puppet who had no chance at the position otherwise. As Steve Rhodes mentioned in an earlier article, Burris would have been a fringe candidate at best in a normal selection process, and therefore, the people of Illinois aren't even getting a replacement considered highly qualified under normal conditions.
Blago On Trial
Miller concludes after talking with several state senators (including African American Dems, who Blagojevich hoped to win over through the Burris appointment) that the answer to that is No. "This thing is on a monorail," he writes.
Programming Note 9:26 A.M.: I'm watching the impeachment right now and I've already got a few more items on tap, so again, please check back shortly. Also, please check out yesterday's column for the late postings at the bottom if you haven't seen them already. Back soon.
"Lebed said later, the governor's co-defendant and former chief of staff, John Harris, approved hiring Steven Burris. But Burris never started at the agency that had cut 32 jobs."
Force of Habit
By the way, there is no record of Jim Hendry ever contributing money to Rod Blagojevich. Yes, I checked.
Plenty of locals could stand to learn a thing or two about the 5th, too.
"There were hundreds of Tomczak/Daley stooges knocking on doors, manning precincts, passing literature for Emanuel to install him and knock out a true progressive local Democrat, Nancy Kaszak.
"Tomczak testified to this at a federal trial of other convicted Daley patronage chiefs. The mayor was so upset that his mouthpiece, David Axelrod, felt compelled to write an op-ed piece in the Tribune that took the side of patronage and clout, saying it wasn't all that bad, really.
"Simultaneously, Axelrod was massaging the message for Obama about transcending the old, corrupt politics and ushering in the sunshine of reform, a slogan that sent tingles up the legs of pundits.
"After Tomczak cooperated and testified, Emanuel defended Daley and denied any knowledge of the Tomczak army that elected him."
Well, to be fair, if Emanuel hadn't he wouldn't be Barack Obama's chief of staff today.
Also, Jesse White just said on Fox News that he's still refusing to certify Burris.
Who is Milt Patterson?
"Milton 'Milt' Patterson was elected to the General Assembly in the fall of 2004," his official House biography says. "He previously served as Chief Electrical Inspector and Deputy Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Buildings and as the 17th Ward Committeeman . . . Milt serves the 32nd district, which consists of communities on the Southside of Chicago including Englewood, West Englewood, Auburn Gresham and West Chatham.
Jesus, his vote is already on his Wikipedia page.
"Representative Milton 'Milt' Patterson REPEATEDLY REFUSED TO PROVIDE ANY RESPONSES TO CITIZENS ON ISSUES THROUGH THE 2006 NATIONAL POLITICAL AWARENESS TEST," his Project Vote Smart page says.
What Blago Will Say
A Quinn Sandwich
My New Hero
"The House has been talking about doing for the last couple of years . . . this started in the summer of 2007 . . . it's part of the process that has essentially been the dynamic in Illinois since I was re-elected as governor in 2006 . . . the causes of the impeachment are because of the things I've done on behalf of families."
Yes, the House impeached him because he wanted to help people.
Worse, Blago rolled out (no pun intended, as you will see) a group of human props who apparently are folks helped by the governor's programs, including a man in a wheelchair front-and-center.
Playing to the jury pool much?
"The governor wants you to believe he's being impeached because he's pro-health care," Tribune editorial page editor Bruce Dold said on CLTV.
"He said he was a victim, and the target of a partisan political attack," Jack Conaty said on Fox Chicago.
The governor did not take questions, nor did he address the sworn testimony of Ali Ata, Joe Cari, any elements of the still-unfolding pay-to-play scandal, or Barack Obama's senate seat.
As Conaty observed, Blago's statement very much resembled a campaign speech, as he ticked off his supposed accomplishments supposedly saving lives; I briefly thought he was about to announce a run for president.
Norah O'Donnell on MSNBC said "the man is clearly delusional . . . or he could be in some ways politically smart."
Those two aren't mutually exclusive, Norah.
The Beachwood Tip Line: Pleasantly snowy.
Posted on January 9, 2009
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