(Photo credit: Chicago Sun-Times)
In a surprising move today that stunned many in the political world, indicted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich appointed Roland Burris to President-Elect Barack Obama’s open Senate seat. Burris is a former Illinois Attorney General who has, no shocker here, donated money to Blagojevich in the past. Senate Democrats have reaffirmed their vow to not seat anyone Blagojevich appoints, and Obama himself has disagreed with the disappointment.
What throws an even bigger monkey wrench into all of this mess is the playing of the race card. Blagojevich trotted out Congressman Bobby Rush, a former Black Panther who destroyed Obama in a 2000 primary for the U.S. House. Rush warned that the Senate ought not block a man who would become the nation’s only black Senator, and urged people not to “hang or lynch” the appointee on behalf of the appointer.
I agree with Senate Democrats opposing this appointment, but my fear is that the terror of appearing racist will cow them into accepting Blagojevich’s terms. In any case, they are the only ones who could stop the appointment; Illinois Sec. of State Jesse White has said he will not certify the appointment, but Blagojevich is legally still able to act as governor in this respect and others until he resigns or is removed from office. It’s an absolute royal mess, and the injection of racial politics just adds jet fuel onto a smoldering ruin of public confidence. Anybody still have faith in Illinois politics and politicians? It’s becoming harder to think anyone’s hands are clean anymore.