Anyone that assumed when all these began that embattled Illinois governor, Rod B l a g o j e v i c h, was a done political roast and no level of Chicago Mafioso can get him out of this quagmire certainly must have other thoughts coming. The arrest of the governor on the charge of intending to sell the vacated Senate seat of president-elect Barack Obama to the highest bidder among others, and the subsequent news conference by voracious U. S. attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald, left no conceivable way out for the governor.
Mr. Blagojevich’s appointment of former state attorney-general Roland Burris, 71, to the vacant senate seat is a political maneuver that throws desert sand into the eyes of the United States Senate and any efforts by adversaries to prevent him from making such an appointment.
A move from left field for sure, given the fact that the governor’s attorney merely days after the arrest stated “why would he do that?” when asked about his client making the appointment, charges or no charges. With this in mind, Senate Democrats, with a majority in the chamber, dispatched a notice to Mr. Blagojevich apprising him of their intent to not seat any appointee of his when the new chamber convenes on Jan. 6, 2009.
In the wake of this appointment by the governor, Senate leaders are slowly and surely finding out stopping short of an impeachment by the Illinois legislature before the chamber convenes—this train has already left the station. And what must further dampen and complicate all hope is the request of prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who with just days to spare seeks additional two months to bring a grand jury indictment against the governor. This cannot in any shape be welcomed news for Mr. Blagojevich’s opponents on Capitol Hill or in the statehouse in Springfield, Ill.
We now know, if precedents are anything to go by, the Supreme Court’s 1969 decision in Powell v. McCormack in which it ruled that disgraced New York congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr., could not be barred from his seat in the House of Representatives in as much as he fulfilled the requirements of age, citizenship, and residence makes Mr. Burris an untouchable from Chicago. Even back then, the mayhem about misconduct was about the integrity of the appointee, and Mr. Roland Burris has no proven or suspected sins for which he must pay.
Mr. Burris by general consensus is an outstanding citizen of the state of Illinois. For those who claim this is a politico-racial maneuver by Mr. Blagojevich to stymie any efforts at a conviction—I respond power to the governor if that’s the case. But as for where Mr. Burris is concerned, I do not see why race isn’t a legitimate and tangible issue here.
In the immediate years before the ascension of Mr. Obama to the United States Senate, there was no black citizen representing any 50 states of the U.S. of A. in the Senate. And before this appointment, there was going to be none. So what part of our democracy is wholesomely representative if a group of citizens have no representation in the highest legislative chamber in the land?! If this governor’s move rights such a wrong and it’s absolutely within his legal prerogative … then why not I must ask?!
Mr. Burris is a different entity from Mr. Blagojevich. A senatorial appointment in which the appointee never sought or used unscrupulous means to attain the appointment has never been criminal, so this should not begin now with the former state attorney-general.
In as much as we live in a country where charges alone do not constitute a grand jury indictment and a grand jury indictment does not constitute a conviction—the United States Senate must put to shame any talk of delaying Mr. Burris’ seating in some procedural Rules Committee’s investigation and shut up. Nobody is on trial here, not even the much-hated and woebegone Governor Rod Blagojevich. A legally sanctioned will of the people in a ratified state constitution must be exercised; otherwise, this must be worse than a Puritan society and I’m the last to know.