Defying U.S. Senate leaders and his own state's lawmakers, Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Tuesday appointed former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to replace President-elect Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate.
Blagojevich, accused of trying to sell Obama's Senate seat to the highest bidder, praised the 71-year-old Burris' integrity and asked that the corruption allegations not "taint this good and honest man."
Other than the surprise that Blagojevich is deluded enough to believe he can proceed with filling Barack Obama's Senate seate without permanently tainting anyone he names, the only real surprises in this press conference were Burris' surprise at finding out he'd given $14,000 or so to Blagojevich's re-election campaign, and Blago's screwed-up admonishment at the end:
Feel free to castigate the appointer, but don't lynch the appointor.
I think he meant "appointee." But even more noteworthy was his use of the word "lynch" to describe what refusal of Burris's seating in the Senate might mean in terms of the politics of this mess. Combined with Rep. Bobby Rush's threat at the conference to make it a racial issue if an African-American wasn't named to fill Obama's seat, I think it's clear that Team Blago intends to flourish the race card in this matter.
Now, it's already been pointed out that the Senate cannot refuse to seat a duly elected member on any grounds other than constitutional ones (that is, citizenship qualifications, etc.).
But just before the press conference, MSNBC read a statement from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid saying that the Senate Democratic Caucus would refuse to seat any member appointed by Blagojevich. Moreover, the Illinois Secretary of State has also announced he will refuse to sign the papers certifying Burris as the nominee.
Worth noting: Only a couple of days ago, the lieutenant governor announced that Blago would be removed before mid-February.
Looks like Blago decided to have a last laugh at their expense. He's throwing a monkey wrench at them, mostly it appears, out of spite.