Wednesday, December 31, 2008


The big headline right now at the Huffington Post is "Roland Burris Almost Certain To Be Seated, Legal Scholars Say." The Illinois secretary of state (who says he'll block this Senate appointment by Governor Blagojevich) has a "duty" (according to the state charter) to process all appointments by the governor and a 1967 Supreme Court ruling in favor of Representative Adam Clayton Powell found that there were significant limits to Congress's constitutional power to deny a seat.

Ah, but the Jed Report asserts that the Senate will, in fact, be able to seat Burris:

If worse comes to worse, and they both cannot delay any longer and are forced to seat Blago Blago's appointment, they can simply turn right around and expel him. Article I, Section 5, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution is crystal clear:

Each House may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two thirds, expel a member.

...Theoretically, Republicans could decide to support Blago's appointment, but that would be a political disaster for them.

That's where Jed's argument falls apart. Why would Republicans hesitate to vote in Burris's favor? Why would they pass up this opportunity to embarrass Democrats?

The national GOP is no longer a major political party. It's really just a large fan club for right-wing talk radio, one that happens to elect a lot of people to office.

As such, its members feel free to do anything Rush Limbaugh can explain to party members. (The party no longer even bothers to try to please anyone other than members.) Supporting Burris will be no stranger than switching from hating Hillary Clinton to praising her during the Democratic primaries.

If Republicans force the Democratic Senate to accept Blagojevich's choice, mainstream journalists may scratch their heads, but Rush will give his listeners the obvious explanation -- that it's a way for Republicans to say to Democrats, "Here -- you made Blago, now you suffer the consequences." And since, for Republicans, the whole point of holding office is to do whatever offends liberals and Democrats (greater national interest? what greater national interest?), Burris will survive any vote to unseat him.

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