Category: Blagojevich

Politics: Never a dull moment

President-elect Barack Obama’s Inauguration is coming up January 20 and there’s been no shortage of news about his appointments, problems, family move, dog, daughters’ school, etc. More than enough to keep the media busy. But wait, there’s more:

Roland Burris thinks he is indeed the new junior senator from Illinois, despite that fact that he was appointed by indicted Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. The Illinois secretary of state refuses to sign off on his appointment, and the U.S. Senate has said it won’t seat him. Stayed tuned. He’s already flown to Washington and fully intends to appear on the Senate floor this week.

Al Franken has been declared the winner of his Minnesota senate race, finally, by a margin of just 225 votes. (I could sneeze and blow that many votes onto the floor.) His opponent, not surprisingly, is filing suit. Mind you, there have been all kinds of recounts and recounts of recounts since November 4, and the narrow Franken victory was the result announced today. I don’t know what the loser’s lawsuit can accomplish at this point, other than force yet another recount. How many recounts does it take before an election is over?

And then there’s New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, tapped by Obama to be his new commerce secretary. Richardson opted yesterday to withdraw his name from consideration because he is still embroiled in an alleged pay-to-play investigation. Reports indicate Richardson is in the clear but withdrew because the investigation won’t be over as soon as was previously thought.

Burris seems like an overly ambitious hack who chooses not to understand his situation, but then, I’m not sure at what point he officially becomes Sen. Burris. Franken is a political newcomer who has been through a real test of fire to get this far; I’d like to seem him beat the good ol’ boys and make it all the way. The Richardson thing is disappointing; he’s done the right thing by withdrawing, and I just hope he comes through it with his reputation intact.

Oh yes, Caroline Kennedy, who has been seeming less and less qualified for Hillary Clinton’s New York senate seat, is looking more and more like Gov. David Paterson’s choice for that seat. Go figure.

Meantime, “No Drama” Obama has managed to stay above all this drama. So far, so good, Mr. President-elect.

Congressman Rush clinging to racism

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s appointment of Roland Burris to fill Barack Obama’s vacant U.S. Senate seat comes as no surprise. I had already assumed his refusal to relinquish his office meant he intended to exercise his power to appoint a new senator.

Burris, former Illinois attorney general, reportedly is a decent, honest guy. But he may not be the sharpest crayon in the box, coming out of retirement to become Blago’s tainted political pawn in a truly sordid game. For him, it’s political ambition and a last chance to fulfill a dream vs. an opportunity shrouded in controversy and possible humiliation and rejection by Senate colleagues.

I didn’t give a second thought to Burris’s being black and I don’t pretend to know what part it might have played in his acceptance of an appointment that would make him the only black senator in Washington. Clearly, however, it is a very big deal to Illinois Congressman Bobby Rush, also a black man, who said, “There are no African-Americans in the Senate, and I don’t think that anyone, any U.S. senator who is sitting right now, would want to go on record to deny one African-American from being seated in the U.S. Senate.”

Burris’s race neither qualifies him nor disqualifies him from consideration for that senate seat; it’s simply irrelevant. At the risk of sounding like a racist myself, I think older blacks like Rush should stop perpetuating the race issue. He was the first to speak out about Burris’s race and the only one to indicate that it somehow entitles Burris to be seated. I keep trying to be open-minded about race and I get really, really tired of hearing that anyone is entitled to special treatment on that basis alone.

It’s rather sad that Burris would demean himself by coming out of retirement to write a questionable new ending to a previously honorable career. It is even more lamentable that Congressman Rush would play the race card yet again, even as America is about to inaugurate her first black president.

Surprise! Blago says he did nothing wrong

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich just appeared before reporters to announce his innocence of all charges of corruption and conspiracy. Time will tell, but he made it clear he is not going to step down from his post.

There were no surprises in his remarks so my attention wandered to his body language and demeanor. He appeared to be somewhat breathless, perhaps from nervousness or agitation. A network crawl cut off the bottom of the screen, but it seemed  he was constantly shifting his weight from one foot to the other and rarely let go of the lectern, holding it with one or sometimes both hands. He licked his lips several times as he spoke.

If I remember correctly, all these things indicate possible lying. On the other hand, they could just mean he was running late and had to rush to the stage, was bouncing on the balls of his feet like an eager fighter in the ring, and had chapped lips from jogging in the Chicago cold.

No doubt some body language “expert” will analyze Blago’s presentation and explain to all of us what his movements and attitude revealed.

Aside from that, the news is what everyone expected: the governor has no intention of resigning and remains innocent until proven guilty in court. The Illinois legislature must now move forward with its impeachment proceedings against him.

Jesse Jackson Jr. too close to Blagojevich?

Jesse Jackson, Jr.
Jesse Jackson, Jr.

The dirty news about Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich keeps coming and keeps getting worse. Just hearing it makes me want to go take a bath.

What has puzzled me most, though, is the press conference held yesterday by Jesse Jackson, Jr. I suppose he felt he had to respond quickly to the reports of his contact with Blagojevich, but it verged on “methinks he doth protest too much.” Not to mention his delivery sounded like a wind-up to taking his name out of contention for Obama’s open Senate seat — and then he didn’t do it. The whole thing just sounded a bit odd.

Until yesterday, I had rather liked the young J.J.Jr. And that despite the fact that I can’t stand his father. But after yesterday, in my mind, there’s now a question mark hanging over his head. I hadn’t even heard his name mentioned until suddenly he was there on camera vehemently denying any improper contact with Blagojevich.

I’m disappointed in him, or maybe in myself. If he is involved in all that dirt — for shame. If he isn’t, then his chance to assume Obama’s seat in the Senate has been severely tarnished for the immediate future, and that, too, is a real shame.