Democrats angry over the botched handling of the Roland Burris imbroglio are putting the blame on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin and President-elect Barack Obama — even as new legal developments in Illinois throw the issue back to the Senate again.
Democratic sources say that Reid and Durbin underestimated the storm that would be caused by their attempt to deny a seat to a 71-year-old African-American.
“Reid operates in this tight, little circle with Durbin and [Sen. Charles] Schumer and [Sen. Patty] Murray,” complained one veteran Democratic senator, granted anonymity to speak candidly. “He needs to talk to more people, and maybe these kinds of situations won’t occur again.”
Other Democratic insiders put some of the blame on Obama, complaining that he kept his distance from the Burris controversy then jumped in at the end to claim the mantle of peacemaker — much as he did in the flap over Sen. Joe Lieberman’s support of Republican John McCain’s presidential bid.
“A lot of people were pissed” with how the Burris situation was handled, said a Democratic source involved in the discussions.
Aides to Democratic leaders defend their efforts to defuse a very difficult situation, saying it changed beyond anyone’s expectations and that they didn’t want to involve too many people because it was such a toxic issue. A spokesperson for Obama didn’t respond to inquiries about the president-elect’s role.
That’s leadership for you. Again, none of this might have happened if only Illinois state Democrats had authorized the holding of a special election. Instead, they decided to keep power in the hands of Rod Blagojevich simply because they couldn’t bear the possibility that the Democrats just might lose the seat in a special election. Indeed, the story itself says that while Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois advocated a change in the law so that there would be a special election, Harry Reid–never thinking ahead, comme d’habitude–opposed Durbin’s position because he was afraid that the Democrats might lose the seat.
Nice to see that things backfired on the Democratic party. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of folks. The whole story is made of awesome and apparently was written to allow Republicans to wallow in schadenfreude. Read it.