The news channels are in a blather over Blagojevich's announcement he is appointing former IL AG Roland Burris for Obama's Senate Seat. When Blago introduced Burris, Burris thanked him and offered some positive words but mostly pretended the beleaguered Blago wasn't standing right next to him.
Blago repeatedly said the people of Illinois deserve two senators so he had no choice but to make this decision. When Blago made his announcement, the media in the room pounced on both Blago and Burris. As the media pounded Burris with questions about Blago, Burris responded, "I have no relationship with that situation! I believe in innocent until proven guilty." This, even though he chastised Blago just weeks earlier. While under this attack, you could see the sweat pouring off Burris. Then, a light came in his eye. He spotted Rep Bobby Rush in the back of the room. He called Rush up to the front of the room and Rush stood by Burris' side next to the mikes. As the media continued to pounce, first to Blago then to Burris, Rush stepped up to the microphones and started vouching for Burris.
The Washington Monthly describes what happened next:
It bordered on surreal. Rush said Blagojevich had answered his prayers, and insisted that voters make a distinction between the "designatee" and the "designator." Rush spoke at some length about the lack of African Americans in the Senate -- if seated, Burris would be the only one -- and effectively argued that Senate Democrats couldn't possibly reject Burris' appointment without snubbing African Americans in general. It wasn't just playing the race card, it was playing the race card old school.
Rush said he would personally urge the Senate to seat Burris, vowing to "persuade them, challenge them, beg them, whatever it takes."
The word "lynching" was thrown around a few too many times. ("We don't need to hang or lynch this appointee.")
I have to admit, watching the bizarre event unfold, Blagojevich seemed to be having a great time. (I noticed this too!) I got the sense that he thinks, for the first time in weeks, that he's finally on the offense, sticking it to, well, pretty much everyone. He even took a shot at the legislature, saying today's decision is their fault, because they didn't call for the special election he wanted.
It was quite the political circus.
Immediately afterwards, here is what the Senate Dems said:
It is truly regrettable that despite requests from all 50 Democratic Senators and public officials throughout Illinois, Gov. Blagojevich would take the imprudent step of appointing someone to the United States Senate who would serve under a shadow and be plagued by questions of impropriety. We say this without prejudice toward Roland Burris's ability, and we respect his years of public service. But this is not about Mr. Burris; it is about the integrity of a governor accused of attempting to sell this United States Senate seat. Under these circumstances, anyone appointed by Gov. Blagojevich cannot be an effective representative of the people of Illinois and, as we have said, will not be seated by the Democratic Caucus.
And from the Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White: says he'll reject any paperwork that Gov. Rod Blagojevich files to name a new U.S. senator. The secretary of state keeps state records and certifies official actions. But White says he won't certify anything Blagojevich does to fill the Senate seat once held by President-elect Barack Obama.
Who said Politics would be "No Drama" after the Presidential Election?