In appointing veteran African-American officeholder Roland Burris to the Senate, embattled Gov. Rod Blagojevich has done more than just flout the will of the Illinois establishment, the Senate and President-elect Barack Obama. With one stunning and politically exquisite act of defiance, he audaciously reasserted his authority and designed a trap that his opponents cannot easily sidestep.
“If he was going to appoint somebody, this is as clever as he could have been — in the sense it gets him back in the limelight and it puts him on the offensive,” said Kent Redfield, a professor at the University of Illinois-Springfield and the author of several books on Illinois politics. “Burris would have been an OK caretaker appointment a month ago. And he’s an African-American from Chicago who has a clean record.”
By Josh Kraushaar
Just days ago, as a result of criminal charges lodged against him in connection with the alleged attempted sale of the Obama Senate seat, it appeared that Blagojevich was boxed in, destined to leave office in disgrace with only the timing of his departure in question.
The state’s attorney general sought to have him declared too incapacitated to serve. The Legislature was moving inexorably toward impeachment. Blagojevich’s attorney said the governor would relinquish the responsibility of making the appointment if a special election was held instead.
But in a gambit as unexpected as it was politically shrewd, the seemingly powerless two-term Democratic governor suddenly turned the tables by picking a candidate whose stature and background….
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