Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you just watched Rod Blagojevich's press conference to announce Roland Burris' appointment to the U.S. Senate, I'm sure you'll agree that it was a tad surreal.
Reporters were shouting questions not only at Burris, but also Blagojevich, who eventually felt he needed to step in and respond. Congressman Bobby Rush showed up in the crowd and then got up on the podium and spoke. All three -- Blagojevich, Burris and Rush -- were trying to keep the focus on what a great senator Burris would be, but struggled to avoid the topic of Blagojevich's legal troubles.
The remark from Blagojevich that really stood out was this one: "Please don't let the allegations against me taint this good and honest man."
This really is the argument that Blagojevich has to play up if this appointment has any chance of going forward. Why, he's asking, should Illinois be deprived of a perfectly good United States senator just because of the little matter of a criminal complaint against the governor?
Senate Democrats don't appear as though they're going to buy that line, however. Here's their response, via the Chicago Sun-Times:It is truly regrettable that despite requests from all 50 Democratic Senators and public officials throughout Illinois, Gov. Blagojevich would take the imprudent step of appointing someone to the United States Senate who would serve under a shadow and be plagued by questions of impropriety. We say this without prejudice toward Roland Burris's ability, and we respect his years of public service. But this is not about Mr. Burris; it is about the integrity of a governor accused of attempting to sell this United States Senate seat. Under these circumstances, anyone appointed by Gov. Blagojevich cannot be an effective representative of the people of Illinois and, as we have said, will not be seated by the Democratic Caucus.
In what may be a more legally fruitful fight, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White also is vowing to block the nomination.
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