A couple of days ago I wrote about IL Governor Blagojevich and his authority to do what his state has written into law as a power of the governor of the state. It seems so simple and irrefutable; the fact that it should be the source of a controversy should be the discussion, not the exercise of the power itself. Consider these easily stipulated facts:
- Blago is the Governor.
- Blago is empowered to appoint to fill vacancies to the US Senate seats from Illinois.
- A vacancy exists because former US Senator Obama gave up the job.
- The IL legislature has not acted to modify the power of the governor nor is he under impeachment.
QED: Blago can appoint a US Senator to represent his state---whether the media, Harry Reid, the unwashed illiterates of America or Patrick Fitzgerald like it or not.
The US Constitution which holds at least a modicum of residual power despite the convolutions of the Supreme Court over 220 years specifies that the Houses of the legislature can refuse to seat a member because of failure to meet the clear criteria of the Constitution for the office. Roland Burris, Blago’s appointee meets the criteria. He’s old enough, resides where necessary and is a citizen. No excuses there.
The minor bureaucratic kerfluffle over the lack of signature by the Sec. State of IL on the appointment order is meaningless. The Secretary’s role in state government is to conduct ELECTIONs in accordance with the state constitution. The results of those elections are required to be certified by the Secretary as testament that they were properly conducted and in certification that the results are accurate. A gubernatorial appointment is not an election. While the signature block may be present on the form, it really has no functionality in this context. No justification there.
Somehow, after the very base theater in the streets of our capitol yesterday, someone who can read, write and rationally apply facts—even those with which he might be unhappy—has finally gotten the ear of the dense Senator from Nevada and explained all of this to him. And, now we’ve got Burris admitted to the chamber where he can assume a career of mediocrity for the next two years. We shall all watch expectantly for the genesis of statesmanship in that fertile ground.
And, one last thing.
Can someone explain to me what Blago did wrong on this whole matter? (I don’t know what Fitzgerald has in the indictment—maybe he’s got some left-over innuendoes that weren’t used against Scooter Libby.) The big blowup was about the governor discussing his appointment authority, nothing much more that I can see.
We could start stipulating here as well:
- Is the appointment of a US Senate a power plum which is quite sweet?
- Should it be simply handed out to someone merely for the asking/pleading?
- Would it be prudent to weigh what long term benefits it might have for the Guv’s future?
- Will our party’s agenda and power be enhanced by someone Obama wants, someone Dick Daley wants, or someone the Guv wants?
Should it maybe be a placeholder so that Blago might seek the seat in two years?
None of those questions are unreasonable or illegal. You can bet that every single state with a similar situation has a governor asking those questions. Simply because Blago lapsed into the Chicago “Organization” vernacular doesn’t mean it was illegal or unethical—merely crude.
I can hardly wait for the next installments on this from Minnesota and New York. And ain’t the Cabinet getting interesting: bye-bye Bill Richardson, hello Leon Panetta, and won’t Sanjay Gupta make Jocelyn Elders look like Louis Pasteur?