Watching politics makes for great spectator sport. I love the drama with the Gov. of Ill. and his putative appointment of a Senator to succeed Obama. A classic example of Chicago politics in action. They have the network system and the crony system down to a science there. Every back is scratching so many other backs that you can’t tell all the players without a program and even then it takes devotion. I have some very major concerns though about the way some of the drama is unfolding because it could affect many of us beyond the b0rders of Illinois.
When the arrest of the Gov. and the accusations of selling the senate seat first broke it was only a matter of days bef0re the Dem. senate leader Reid said that the senate would not seat anyone appointed by Blagojevich. No one has been convicted of anything yet. In fact no one has even been indicted but I am sure that will happen. It is actually true that a federal attorney can indict a ham sandwich if he as a mind to. But before anything has happened in any courtroom Mr. Reid declares that any apopointment will not be allowed to serve in the senate. I do believe that there are some very troubling legal issues and ultimately Big Picture political issues with that decision by Reid. It is true that the House and Senate do retain the right to set their own rules of conduct and are the arbitors of qualifications for prospective members of each chamber of Congress. That is spelled out in the Constitution. But I believe they only have the right to determine the legal “qualifications” not the political qualifications of each prospective member. That is a critical distinction to make. The current Gov. is duly elected and serving. He has not be impeached or otherwise removed from office. He has the legal authority to make the appointment under Illinois law. He has made an appointment. The Secretary of State of Illinois doesn’t have the right to refuse to certify the appointment to the Senate. That is what is called in the law a “ministerial” duty. It is not discretionary. It is a pro forma job. He will be compelled to do it under a Writ of Mandamus. That is the legal action requiring a bureaucrat to fulfil a ministerial duty. If the Senate rejects the appointment by Blagojevich then it will be for purely political reasons and not because the appointee is not “qualified”. The courts will rule that way. It is a certainty. The Dems don’t want the embarrassment of the appointment. They have alternative methods to display their displeasure. They can cut him out of any committee appointments and not allow him to join in their caucus meetings since those are strictly private meetings among like minded senators. To deny him the seat is a real challenge to our Constitutional legacy. Think about it. I have no love or respect for Blagojevich or his app0intee. He is likely guilty but as they say the jury is not in on that one yet and who knows how the trial will turn out.
If the Dems in the Senate can get by with refusing to seat a duly appointed successor to a Senate post it sets a terrible precedent. That would mean in the future that only 51 senators would control the senate. Indeed it would really mean 26 of the senators from the same party. As soon as one party got 51 votes in the senate they could then challenge and refuse to seat any other senators from an oppposing party. After all they have no legal basis to refuse Burris. If it they can refuse to seat a senator for political reasons once then they can do it again in the future. Do we want in the future for our duly chosen Senators to be subject to a political litmus test from 51 senators from an opposing party? Your state might elect a real doozy for senator but he is your doozy and you want him there. Why should an election in say Tenn. be subject to further review by the Senate. It would be one thing if there was a legal challenge to the appointment; an allegation that the law had not been followed by the Ill. governor but here there is not basis for that argument. I don’t like any of them but I do cherish our rights under the Constituion to have each state elect its own senators in their own fashion and have them serve. I hope cooler and more thoughtful heads prevail.
And the game continues to get more amusing. Now Gov. Richardson has withdrawn as Sec. of Commerce before he even goes to a confirmation hearing due to a grand jury investigation of influence peddling. Just the other day he was the best thing since sliced bread per Obama and now he is toast. I doubt Obama is the Next Coming and I know for sure he is not surrounded by the twelve disciples.