early and often

What Are Blagojevich and Burris Thinking?

Numerous questions have arisen in the aftermath of Rod Blagojevich’s appointment yesterday of Roland Burris to Barack Obama’s Senate seat. Why is Blago ignoring the warning from Senate Democrats that they will block anyone he appoints? What can the Senate do to follow through on that threat? Why is Roland Burris scrapping his dignity on the off chance that he elbows his way into a job his colleagues tried to prevent him from getting? Why does Congressman Bobby Rush think that Burris’s race can magically eliminate the taint of Blago? The blogosphere has some thoughts.

• Ta-Nehisi Coates calls Bobby Rush’s “lynch” line “crass and silly,” but doesn’t expect it to actually scare anyone. [Atlantic]

• Edward McClelland says the tone of the news conference announcing the appointment was basically “What’s the matter with you? Don’t you want to see another black guy in the World’s Most Exclusive Club?” [Slate]

• Ezra Klein thinks the news conference was the “weirdest” of the year and calls the use of a racial argument “ugly stuff.” [American Prospect]

• Chris Cillizza believes that “it’s almost certain that Burris won’t ever be seated in the Senate,” but rejecting him “out of hand …could create problems,” as “turning down a black former elected official to replace the lone black senator might not sit well in some circles.” [Fix/WP]

• Jack Balkin writes that it’s “very likely that the Senate would have a fairly plausible argument for refusing to seat him. And the Supreme Court would have a fairly plausible argument for deferring to the Senate’s decision.” [Balkinization]

• Nate Silver examines the Senate Democrats’ options. Blocking his appointment is their “best bet,” because even if the courts rule that the Dems don’t have the authority to do so, they “won’t appear to have broken their promise” and can instead “claim that their hands have been tied.” [Five Thirty Eight]

• Carol Marin calls the appointment a “brilliant move” which sends “a screamingly loud message that the King isn’t dead and quite happy to inflict pain on those who currently afflict him.” [Chicago Sun-Times]

• The New York Times editorial board says Blago “has taken his hubris to new heights and the misery of Illinois citizens to new lows.” He “shows every sign of feeding off the chaos he has created through his crass rantings about his appointment power” and should be impeached promptly. [NYT]

• Steve Benen thinks “Blagojevich is just tickled by his ability to stick his thumb in the political world’s eye.” [Political Animal/Washington Monthly]

• Eric Kleefeld wonders “what planet Roland Burris is living on right now,” what with his belief that “the people will have a major outcry to a Blagojevich-appointed Senator not being seated.” [Election Central/TPM]

• Jason Zengerle understands where Blago is coming from — he’s got nothing to lose. But he can’t figure out why Burris, “an elder statesman of sorts,” would want to be remembered this way. [Plank/New Republic]

• Noam Scheiber contends that the “fatal flaw” in Blago’s race-based scheme is that Barack Obama (also black) has given the Senate Democrats cover by condemning the appointment himself. [Stump/New Republic]

• Jennifer Rubin blames, in part, Barack Obama, because he “could have forcefully urged a special election.” [Contentions/Commentary]

• Michael Tomasky, meanwhile, wonders if Burris is necessarily tainted. [Guardian UK]

What Are Blagojevich and Burris Thinking?