As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, January 02, 2009

Impeachment Fast Track As Harry Reid Hopes For A Bailout

Looks like Michael Madigan got a breathless phone call from Harry Reid.

The Illinois House could vote as early as next week on whether to impeach Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

The Illinois House has bumped up its schedule and will meet several days next week. They had been set to reconvene on Jan. 12.

A spokesman for House Speaker Michael Madigan says the chamber may vote on a recommendation from the special committee studying whether Blagojevich should be impeached.

Much like in the US Congress, an impeachment vote in the Illinois House would need only a majority vote. Then there would be a trial in the Senate, with 2/3 needed for conviction.

Reid is desperate for the Illinois House to get Blagojevich impeached already so the Lt. Governor can make an appointment to the seat and the Senate can choose him over Roland Burris. This still seems like an extremely dubious out for Reid and co., as Burris has already been appointed under a legal process, but somehow everyone believes they can just get a do-over.

I don't really understand what the hell the Senate leadership is doing. Granted, they don't want Republicans to use Burris as an example of the Democrats' "culture of corruption" for the next two years, but the "running around like a chicken with their head cut off" strategy seems like a poor counter-maneuver.

I assume the Senate Dems feel that they have to assert themselves or risk being seen as weak. They are, as Jane points out, afraid that John Cornyn will hang Burris around their necks. But unfortunately, they are asserting themselves in a way that simultaneously appears to be petty, unlawful, panicked and potentially even racist. At the very least they are escalating a distracting political circus at a time of great national crisis, which hardly seems like a smart way to start the new Democratic era. I'm all for fighting the good fight, but it would probably be more useful to do it over something that actually matters.

But hey, maybe it's actually good for them to have a big public, interparty hissy fit right now. With enough practice on each other, they might develop enough courage and skill to outmaneuver the Republicans someday.

They could start by seating Al Franken once the Minnesota Canvassing Board declares him the victor, or at least forcing the 41 members of the Republican caucus to filibuster. That would be a fight with a tangible end goal instead of "avoiding a political embarrassment," a cause which is ill-served by CREATING a political embarrassment at the same time. Besides, Burris is hardly the first or the last man put into the Senate by a process perceived to be crooked. Look at this guy:

(William "Wild Bill" Langer) was removed from office by the North Dakota Supreme Court for allegedly pressuring recipients of governmental aid to donate money to his private newspaper and for allegedly forcing state employees to give funds to the state Republican party. [1]. He was found guilty of fraud in 1934. The North Dakota Supreme Court ordered him removed from office due to his conviction on a felony charge, and on July 17, 1934, the Court declared Lieutenant Governor Ole H. Olson the legitimate governor. Langer gathered with about ten friends, declared North Dakota independent, declared martial law, and barricaded himself in the governor's mansion until the Supreme Court would meet with him. [2] Langer eventually relented, and Olson served the remainder of Langer's term as Governor [...]

Can you believe this story?

He's governor, he's accused of corruption. He's convicted, and removed from office, but he refuses to leave, barricades himself in, declares martial law and independence from the United States! Then he comes out, goes to jail, gets acquitted in a second trial during which he later admitted to bribing the judge!

And then he runs for governor again and wins, and then later for Senate and wins! And when he gets to the Senate, they investigate and he admits the bribery!

And there are still three votes to seat him on the committee! And 52 to seat him on the Senate floor!

Predictably, Langer went on to become Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senate Democrats standing up and fighting for the Constitution is a nice sign. When it only comes at the expense of other Democrats, it's more troubling than comforting.

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