I happen to think that he won, lost and drew all in the same week. To wit:
Roland Burris: Blago's Win
I know I painted a bleak picture for Roland Burris's chance of being seated in the Senate.
I was wrong.
I will explain why below, when I talk about Blago's Draw.
Through a circuitous route, an unlikely (or not) roll-over by Senate Democratic leaders and a series of dramatic removals of Burris from the Senate precincts, it appears that he will be sworn in this week.
For Burris, these unlikely events must seem like walking out of the fog to find yourself somewhere new and wonderful. He pretends to be surprised, but as I will discuss below, I think he knows exactly how this all went down.
So, on the affair of Roland Burris (click here for Saturday Night Live's take), it seems that Blago won.
Something else happened to him, though...
Impeachment: Blago's Loss
Yes, this is a pretty BIG loss.
This week, Blago became the first Illinois governor ever to be impeached.
Seeing as all the members of the General Assembly save two voted to impeach, it seems like a pretty resounding message to Blago, even from scions of his own party.
The message: "Your ass is grass. Your career will soon be over. You might even go to jail."
The particulars of the trial are being worked out and the lawyers are being sized up.
One thing that you can be sure about, though, is that the Senate wants this over quick and they want the decision to be decisive. Keep an eye on that.
Blago's Draw: How The Deal Went Down
So, it seems that Blago won on Burris and lost on impeachment. How could he also draw.
Here is what I think happened (CAUTION: SPECULATION AHEAD).
All of the noise around Roland Burris and the Senate seat in Illinois grabbed national headlines along with the crimes (alleged, for now) of Blago. This all was happening at the same time that a new Democratic administration is taking over the White House, filled with no small count of people from Illinois.
The most important Prarie Stater there is, of course, President-Elect Obama. He saw that the Senate Democratic leadership, mainly Harry Reid and his former colleague from Illinois Dick Durbin, were holding Burris back. By doing this, Senate Democrats were keeping this story in the public eye for too long and questions were being asked about Democrats that Obama didn't like.
This situation was about to become Obama's problem, like it or not. He wanted it killed. Now.
So, I suspect that he went to Reid and Durbin and told them to seat Burris, stop holding this back and end the arguments over the wisdom of this political move. He also made them force Burris to agree to not seek re-election in 2010. Burris gets his two years in the Senate, that top line on his tombstone and all are happy. Illinois will have an election for a new senator in November of next year.
Do I think Obama talked to Blago through all of this? No, because Blago is a pariah at present and an imcoming president would do well to steer clear of him as much as possible. Obama could deal with it without having to talked to the doomed Blago.
So, Blago really drew on this whole thing and will most likely lose in the end. He got his guy into the Senate, he will most likely be impeached and Roland Burris will be more an interim senator than anything else.
As for the deal, I fully realize that this is a cynical view of The One, and how dare I say such things when we are on the verge of what is being hyped as the most important event in American history that has ever or will ever be.
Well, I cannot help but point out that Obama got his political education and his first political experience in Chicago and, in Chicago, that is how things often get done. Not through official channels, but through an unwritten "understanding" between people.
Let's just hope that this vaunted "change we can believe in" is not the nationalization of Chicago machine politics. I suspect it won't, but I don't think you can blame me for thinking about this more than a little.
So, Mr. Obama, keep a close eye on Springfield over the next few weeks. Hell, keep a picture of Blago in your wallet.
Look at it whenever you feel those old lessons from the wards of Chicago creeping into your mind.
Let's hope that the lesson of Blago is a lesson learned for our new president.
"Check the Box Sunday"
2 months ago