The Senate Democrats warned Rod Blagojevich that they would not seat anyone he appointed. But Blagojevich made an appointment anyway, apparently. He also is daring the Senate Democrats to try and block his appointee – who is black.
Brushing aside charges that he tried to sell Illinois’ vacant U.S. Senate seat, Gov. Rod Blagojevich appointed former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to the post today in defiance of Senate leaders who said they would not admit anyone he selected.
It was an abrupt about-face for Blagojevich, who had said after his Dec. 9 corruption arrest that he favored a special election to find a successor to President-elect Barack Obama. But Blagojevich said he acted after the Democratic-controlled General Assembly declined to approve legislation for a special election.
“Please don’t allow the allegations against me to taint this good and honest man,” Blagojevich said while introducing Burris at a downtown news conference.
Blagojevich’s move seemed designed to trump fellow Democrats who control the U.S. Senate and have unanimously warned him against making the appointment because of the criminal charges. His choice of Burris, Illinois’ first African-American elected statewide, presents senators with the dilemma of saying no to a replacement for Obama, who was the nation’s only black senator.
Frankly, Burris is crazy to be party to any of this. His appointment is tainted both by an association to Rod “Highest Bidder” Blagojevich and by the position he is putting his party in. Yes, the Senate Democrats will almost certainly lose any challenge to their attempt to block Burris in the courts – they simply have no grounds. But Reid and his fellows will either have to try anyway or roll over and accept Burris. Either option makes them look foolish and ineffectual. Burris may be a fully qualified candidate for the job and a very nice person. But he’s going to be under a cloud no matter how this all plays out.
Besides, Blagojevich is using Burris specifically to spit in Harry Reid’s eye. Burris should have refused to be used like this. That makes him look like he’s more interested in getting the appointment than he is about his own reputation. That does not speak well for Burris.