Diary

Illinois Waits For Godot

The vast swirl of controversy surrounding Rod Blagojevich and his various and sundry offenses–including an effort to put the Senate seat recently resigned by Barack Obama up for sale–are apparently not enough to convince Illinois Democrats of the need to have a special election:

Democrats in the Illinois House of Representatives postponed stripping Governor Rod Blagojevich’s power to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama that prosecutors say Blagojevich tried to sell.

The governor, a Chicago Democrat, retains authority to appoint Obama’s successor while the House pursues an impeachment process that may last weeks. Democratic lawmakers led by House Speaker Michael Madigan dropped plans late yesterday to schedule a special election to fill the post after failing to agree in a closed-door meeting, said Steve Brown, a Madigan aide.

Blagojevich, 52, has resisted demands he resign since his Dec. 9 arrest by the FBI and accusations he tried to auction Obama’s seat for personal gain and intimidate the Chicago Tribune newspaper into firing editorial writers. Republicans said Democrats, who hold a 67-51 majority in the chamber, seek to avoid a loss of the seat to the GOP in a special election.

“Shame on you,” Representative William Black, deputy leader of Republicans in the House, shouted during a debate in the state capitol building in Springfield. “We had an opportunity to limit the power of this governor and you refused.”

Democrats in the House met yesterday and aired “differences of opinion on the best way to proceed” with a special election for Obama’s seat, Brown said. The differences could not be overcome so a vote on taking the decision away from Blagojevich was “deferred for now,” he said.

Who wants to place bets that this decision will be “deferred” for as long as humanly possible in the hope that the Governor will resign, that Lt. Governor Pat Quinn will take his place and that a Democrat will be safely appointed without any competition whatsoever from Republicans–the better to preserve one-party dominance in the state, my dears?

One would think that recent events would have demonstrated the utterly unacceptable nature of allowing the Governor of the State of Illinois–whomever he or she may be–the opportunity to be tempted into appointing a political hack to the Senate seat and benefiting personally in the process. But it would seem that the embarrassment of the past week is not enough of a shock to the political system for ameliorative reforms to be implemented. There is a crying need to clean up government in Illinois and yet, certain members of its political class persist in playing politics.

Neither they nor we should be surprised when the next scandal pops up as a consequence of this most recent decision to engage in not-so-masterful inaction. We should, however, remember who should be blamed when that next scandal does indeed arrive to disgust and appall us all.