Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Roland of opportunity pt. 3: Little Fonzies edition

Posted By on 01.07.09 at 11:55 AM

Let me get up on my soapbox and say: Eh.

It's a tough position to defend and not particularly sexy, but everything that's happened makes sense and is almost inevitable.

1. Rod Blagojevich. Obviously the right thing to do would be for him to step down or force the state legislature to set up a special election through inaction, but, c'mon. I'm with Mick in that I think Blago just straight-up won the battle with a clever political move, but I don't know why he bothered or what winning amounts to.

If he doesn't go to prison, I can't imagine him ever being reelected to anything; even if the case totally stinks and he's being railroaded, I doubt the sympathy would cancel out the fact that no one thought he was good at his job even before he was accused of being illegally, sociopathically corrupt.

2. Roland Burris. I know everyone thinks he's an egomaniac who really, really wants to be in the Senate, but let me play devil's advocate here. Put yourself in his shoes. You're an experienced politician, not unqualified, comparatively clean and and unhated by Illinois standards, and you've just been appointed to the Senate by a governor who people think may be insane. Your options are:

A) Accept

B) Let a possibly corrupt and bonkers governor see who else he can find

Is Burris being opportunistic, or falling on a grenade? Both? I have no idea what the motives are.

3. The state legislature. The downside is that they've let Blagojevich go ahead and appoint a Senator. The upside is they look feckless and incompetent. I am all for the latter. Probably not a net positive, but there you go.

4. Harry Reid et al. It's unclear where this is going right now, whether Reid is stalling, negotiating, or what, though given how the leaks and hints are trending, I'd lay money that they'll seat Burris.

But as I've said before, I don't think it would be embarrassing or a grave injustice for Reid or the Senate generally to block the seating of Burris--they probably can't, or at least from my ill-informed perspective I don't think they can, but obviously one of the ways the system works is that you figure out what's constitutional and what's not by trying.

So while I think Steve Chapman and Eric Zorn are right that it's probably illegal to block Burris, I don't think it's a reason to try not to. If that makes sense.

There are two concerns in doing so, clearly. The first is whether The People would approve. Polling seems to indicate that they would be fine with it.

The second is whether or not, in the event that Burris could successfully be blocked, it would create terrible precedent. As Duncan Black puts it: "I was actually losing a little sleep over these shenanigans, as it opens the door for seriously playing politics with the process of seating senators. And once you open those doors, Republicans are good at running through them." That's a strategic question, and above my head.

Anyway. Generally speaking, it seems like everyone involved is either doing the right thing or doing something which is so predictable and inevitable that it's fruitless to be more disgusted than dignity requires.

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