Sunday, January 04, 2009

Giving the Readers What they Want

Latest Newspaper column:

Note: It seems that some of my constant readers were a wee bit disappointed that I failed to identify the political party of indicted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. In my constant quest to give the fans what they want, I shall endeavor in this column always to identify every person mentioned by his or her political party.

I'll say this for indicted Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich: While Blagojevich (a Democrat) may be a corrupt weasel, he's got him some chutzpah. And the Democrat sure knows how to stir things up. Everyone from Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (a Democrat) to Democratic President-elect Barack Obama (also a Democrat) has said that Blagojevich (a Democrat) should step down, and that he certainly should not use his power as the Democratic governor to appoint a successor to fill the seat formerly held by the president-elect (a Democrat).

But this past week, Blago (as the Democrat is affectionately known) went ahead and appointed former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris (a Democrat).

Democratic reaction was immediate. Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White (a Democrat) said he would refuse to file the official paperwork certifying the appointment. Democratic Majority Leader Reid (D-Nev.) said that the Senate would refuse to seat the Democrat Burris.

Only problem is, neither of those Democrats may be able to actually do that. The Supreme Court (a mixture of Democratic and Republican appointees) ruled back in 1969 that the Constitution (drafted in large part by James Madison, a Federalist) did not permit Democratic Speaker of the House John McCormack to refuse to seat duly elected Democratic Rep. Adam Clayton Powell, despite the scandals in which Powell (a Democrat) was embroiled at the time.

Congress, wrote Chief Justice Earl Warren (who'd run for office as both a Democrat and a Republican, but who was appointed by a Republican), might have the power to expel the Democrat Powell by a two-thirds vote, but they couldn't just refuse to seat the Democratic congressman.

There seems no logical reason why the same principle in Powell v. McCormack wouldn't apply to Democratic Majority Leader Reid's threatened refusal to seat the Democrat Burris.

And there certainly appears to be no constitutional authority for the Democratic secretary of state to simply refuse to file the decree of a still-sitting governor (in this case, a Democrat) who has not yet been impeached by the Illinois House (67 Democrats, 51 Republicans), or removed by its Senate (37 Democrats, 22 Republicans).

It's an interesting legal pickle.

While the Democrat Burris has made campaign contributions to the Democrat Blagojevich, none of them appear to have been part of any kind of quid pro quo, and they're really not big enough to buy the Senate seat that the Democrat Blagojevich described as "[bleeping] valuable."

Even the Democrat Reid and the Democrat White praised the Democrat Burris for his integrity and his years of public service as a Democratic comptroller and Democratic attorney general. It's just that, Democrats Reid, White, and Obama said regretfully, any nominee picked by the Democrat Blagojevich would be tainted.

There's a lot of merit in this position. It's a shame that an apparently good Democratic pick for the job might not get it for no other reason than the bad behavior of the Democrat who appointed him.

To add extra spice to the mix, the Democrat Burris is African-American. So the Democrat Reid is in the uncomfortable position of giving the boot to a Democrat who would be the only African American in the Senate (but not the only Democrat, now that the Democrats have a majority). Like I say, the Democrat Blagojevich sure knows how to stir things up.

There's one thing for sure, though: I'd love to be a fly on the wall when the new Senate (with a Democratic majority) comes into session.

Looking back at all the mentions of "Democrat" in this drama, one can't help but notice a dearth of Republicans in either the black or the white hats. It was certainly not my intention to make it look like the Republicans are irrelevant. But, well, they kind of are here, so that's how it comes out.

The only "contribution" the Republicans have made to this brouhaha is a variety of desperate attempts to tie Democratic President-elect Obama to the scandal because, hey, they're both from Illinois. And Democrats.

Of course, they don't apply the same "standards" to the Republican darlings who are governors of the corruption-plagued states of Louisiana and Alaska, but that kind of hypocrisy is (a) par for the course; and (b) a big part of the reason they're now irrelevant.

It's the Democrats who are cleaning their own house, so y'all just chill out. Go to a movie or something. The Democrats will handle this.


Msmstry said...

If all men would respond so readily to suggestions, this would be a better world indeed.

becky hutchison said...

As Democrat Burris is highly respected in the Democratic party, might it be possible for a new Democratic governor (if the current Democrat governor is forced out of office) to re-nominate Democrat Burris and thus have the mostly Democratic Senate allow him a seat?

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I wonder if the legal issue could be affected by the fact that Adam Clayton Powell was elected, while Burris has been appointed?

JD Rhoades said...

Rae: Ive heard that theory proposed, but I don't see how it really makes a difference. The appointment is still legal under the law so long as Blago's the Governor.

It may be that Reid's picking a fight he knows he'll lose, just so he can say "hey, I didn't want to seat Burris, but it's all the Supremes' fault."

Becky: that would be the preferred solution, I think. But Blagojevich seems determined to go to the mattresses on this one.

FIONA said...

Who needs reality TV when there's Chicago Politics?

Anonymous said...

Here is the Secretary of States e-mail if you want to send him a comment. I did, and they actually responded.