Monday, January 05, 2009

Blago and Burris go to Washington

Illinois Senate Debacle now Dems problem
Blagojevich right, Democrats wrong

Can Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich be right? Is it conceivable that the poster-child for political corruption in America may have been an advocate for empowering people and a crusader against the political machine that defined the term pay-to-play politics? In an obscure manner of speaking, the answer is yes.

As political pundits and politicians from both sides of the aisle condemn his recent decision to name a replacement for President-elect Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat, they all seem to have overlooked a statement that Blagojevich made during this past Tuesdays press conference that goes to the heart of the senate vacancy controversy.

“The law requires that the governor make an appointment of a United States Senator in the absence of any other law that would have given the people of Illinois a chance to elect the successor to the United States Senate,” Blagojevich said. “When the legislature didn’t act on the legislation they said they were considering, which I supported, which would’ve given the people the right to elect the next senator, failing then, it’s the governors responsibility to fill the vacancy.”

Within minutes of his announcement, Democrats in Illinois as well as the leadership in Washington came together to denounce the decision, continuing their firm stance that no individual selected by this governor would ever be seated.

Completely missed by the mainstream media is the hypocrisy that has occurred over the Governor’s appointment. Thy hypocrite isn’t Blagojevich. It’s the Democratic Party.

After the governor was indicted, the Democratic controlled Illinois House and Senate had an obligation to implement a law that would give the people the power to elect the next senator. As Blagojevich pointed out, they failed and it became his responsibility by law to “fill the vacancy.”

As it stands now, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White (D) has refused to sign the paperwork certifying the governor’s appointment. U.S. Senate majority leader Harry Reid has stated that “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.” The governor’s nominee, Roland Burris, is going to court to fight the Secretary of State.

…and Illinois still has only one U.S. Senator.

When the Blagojevich scandal first took center stage, every Illinois politician, including the governor, called for a “special election” to fill the senate vacancy.

"The General Assembly should enact a law as quickly as possible calling for a special election to fill the Senate vacancy of Barack Obama,” said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL). “No appointment by this governor could produce a credible replacement."

Illinois Senate President Emil Jones (D) told Associated Press that he would soon call his chamber into session to “pass a bill to establish a special election to fill the vacancy.”

Even the President-elect chimed-in, issuing a statement calling for the General Assembly to “consider the issue and put in place a process to select a new senator that will have the trust and confidence of the people of Illinois.”

For a brief moment it appeared that Democrats had joined Republicans, in doing the right thing. In the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln, “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” was not dead in the land that bears his name.

Democrats began taking a hard look at what a special election could mean in a climate of corruption. They saw popular Republican congressmen such as Mark Kirk (10th) and Peter Roskam (6th), representatives who have impeccable reputations for honesty, declaring their interest in running in a special election. Both men would be in a strong position to put the vacant senate seat in the GOP column.

The idea of empowering the people to decide their next senator may be the right thing to do, but the half-century old culture of corruption that created Rod Blagojevich, only understands one thing. Power!

The unified Democratic voice that demanded a special election was afraid of losing and was suddenly backtracking.

Blagojevich’s replacement if he resigns or is impeached, Lt. Governor Pat Quinn, a life-long advocate for voter initiatives and public referendums, originally advocated a special election with his Democrat colleagues. However he recently had a change of heart.

"I've had to reflect on that in the last couple of days,” said Quinn. He is asking for the governor to be immediately impeached and has stated that he should decide who should represent Illinois in the senate.

The blatant hypocrisy lies in the fact that Democrats are well aware that Quinn will not be in power to make the decision before a special election could take place. Meanwhile they cry how awful it is that Illinois will only have one U.S. Senator when the next congress convenes.

Democrats know that Blagojevich is not going to resign. The governor has stated that he will fight the charges and any impeachment efforts against him with his “last breathe.” Therefore the only hope Illinois has of sending a second senator to Washington in the near the future is through the election process.

However it’s obvious that Democrats in Illinois would rather have the seat vacant before giving the people the power to elect their next senator, and God forbid, possibly elect a Republican.

When the special session of the Illinois legislature Gov. Blagojevich spoke of recently convened, House Speaker Michael Madigan (D), who was one of the first special election supporters, neglected to call the bill to the floor.

The same change of heart took place in the Illinois Senate as one time special election proponent, Sen. President Emil Jones, forbade a special election resolution to be voted on in his chamber.

The argument Democrats are clinging too is that a special election would be very expensive and that the state simply cannot endure the additional costs. What they conveniently forget to mention that a scheduled election is already in place.

Just because there are no congressional or senate races capturing the public’s attention, doesn’t mean other local offices aren’t up for election. A February 24th primary is already scheduled with the general election taking place on April 7th. Perfect conditions for a special election are already etched in stone, which can still take place, regardless of the governor’s recent appointment.

The Democratic Party in Illinois finds themselves in unfamiliar territory. They find themselves vulnerable and dare I say accountable to the people.

Both major newspapers, the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun Times have called for a special election. A Rasmussen Poll shows that 66% of Illinois voters support the idea, while only 21% disagree.

The sad reality is that an indicted governor, who is currently the laughing stock of America, had to point out that the legislature didn’t do their job, so he had to do it for them.

Only in Illinois can a politician arrested by Federal Agents, charged with attempting to sell a U.S. Senate seat, be the voice of reason and accountability amongst his Democratic colleagues.



At 1/05/2009 11:33 AM , Blogger markg8 said...

Blago hasn't been indicted for anything as of yet. He was arrested and Fitzgerald had 30 days to indict him. He has since gone to a judge and asked for a 90 day extension. It remains to be seen after five long years of investigation if Fitzgerald will actually bring Blagojevich to trial or he will simply let the IL state assembly do his work for him and remove Blago from office. After Fitzgerald's dramatic trial by press conference you'd think he had a slam dunk conviction in his pocket. Apparently not.

There is no law that says the IL state assembly is obligated to change the open senate seat rule in case of malfeasance by the governor.

In fact it's a stupid idea. Unlikely as it is seems now Illinois may once again send a Republican to the senate one day who might want to run for president. Chances are primary voters would shy away from that candidate if it meant risking a senate seat. Does anyone think Clinton wouldn't have had an advantage over Obama if Illinois had a special election law in place last year? We have few enough good politicians in this state as it is. Let's not give the best of them another reason to pursue careers elsewhere.


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