Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Do we benefit from senatorial rehash?

BLAGOJEVICH: Still on the stand!
The beginning, and the end, of “Roland Burris, U.S. Senator!” was on display Monday in a pair of courtrooms.

The whole chain of events that led to the one-time state comptroller and attorney general becoming a senator was rehashed while prosecutors put former Gov. Rod Blagojevich through cross-examination.

THOSE PROSECUTORS WERE determined to make it look like Blagojevich was cracking a deal for himself and his political aspirations, rather than trying to find someone qualified to serve the last couple of years of the Senate term to which Barack Obama was elected in 2004.

That was the beginning. The end also came up in Washington, as the Supreme Court of the United States let it be known they were not going to hear an appeal on the lawsuit filed by Burris – the one that claims he was deprived of the last six weeks of his time in office.

Now I have written before that I think Burris has a legitimate beef. He should have had a chance to finish out the term to which Blagojevich appointed him. Although I was glad the Supreme Court didn’t seriously entertain this issue.

For what can be done now? This was an issue that had to be dealt with when it was happening. Any legal ruling now in Burris’ favor would be pointless.

IN SHORT, A particularly absurd era in our state’s political history is being rehashed. Yet I wonder what will seriously be accomplished, other than creating some personal humiliation for a few individuals.
BURRIS: Still livid, after all these years

Better off that we all try to move forward. And while I realize that we have to fully comprehend the past before we can move forward, I’m not sure there’s much more to rehash. The time for Blagojevich embarrassment is past.

Besides, personally I think Blagojevich has no shame. There’s nothing anyone can do to ever truly break his viewpoint that he’s being victimized by the federal government (the same one he was once delusional enough to think he could head).

Prosecutors tried to get Blagojevich to say he was willing to give Valerie Jarrett the U.S. Senate seat, provided that the then-President-elect Obama would grant him some form of cabinet appointment.

NOT THAT ANY such appointment was likely. The last thing Blagojevich ever would have wanted was a Senate seat from Illinois going to such a blatant Obama ally.

It is why I thought back then he likely would have given the post to former state Senate President Emil Jones, to try to create at least one person loyal to himself. It is what he ultimately did when he decided to give the Senate seat to Burris – who had been out of electoral office for 14 years back in the autumn-becoming-winter of ’08.

Besides, the outrage Blagojevich created at the thought of “Senator Burris” was his ultimate drop-dead moment to the Illinois political establishment. I’m sure he’s trying to create a similar moment during his time on the witness stand during his trial.

Not that prosecutors aren’t going out of their way to make Blagojevich look ridiculous. Such as their efforts to get him to claim he was trying to influence the congressional special election that ultimately saw Mike Quigley get the seat formerly held by Rahm Emanuel when he took that chief-of-staff post that led up to his successful mayoral campaign.

BECAUSE THAT IS not a statewide post, the governor had no authority to appoint anyone. Yet Blagojevich appears to have had his attorneys look into the matter to see if any action on the governor’s part was possible.

Prosecutors tried to make it seem that Blagojevich was ordering people to behave in “unconstitutional” ways, which is an overstretch on their part.

The Washington court activity wasn’t as dramatic.

The high court officially did nothing more than say it would not hear Burris’ case – which ought to bring the matter to an end.

BURRIS IS STILL miffed that when it was decided so late in the process that there would have to be some sort of special election in Illinois related to the U.S. Senate seat, the party political hacks picked the nominees.

And da Dems didn’t pick him!

So Burris was not the senator from Illinois for the last six weeks of the term. Instead, we got Mark Kirk, who gained a seniority advantage over the other newcomers from last year’s election cycle by getting to add the “Sen.” And “R-Ill.” to his name a few weeks early.

It was stupid to have to endure all of that. Burris should have been able to finish up the term.
EMANUEL: Rahm's ancient history

BUT WHAT COULD really have been done now. Do we suddenly remove Kirk from the U.S. Senate for six weeks, and let Roland, Roland, Roland fill in for him.

Do we have the federal government pay damages to Burris to make up for his lost time in office, which at his age really was a final hurrah in Illinois politics?

There’s nothing we can do, except listen to Roland complain about how he got dumped on – while we nod our heads condescendingly the way we often do at older individuals who tell stories from the past.

It was good to see the Supreme Court use a practical approach to addressing Burris’ gripes. Let’s only hope that when the day comes several years from now that Blagojevich appeals his case to that same high court, they behave in an equally logical manner.


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