I’m not supposed to be here. My “vacation” does not officially end for a few more days. However, I felt the need to drop in and wish everyone a Happy and Prosperous New Year so here I am doing just that.
I understand there has been a bit of a discussion around here for the past week or so as to which video we should bestow Video of the Year honors upon for the year 2008. Please, allow me…
I don’t think there is a lot of discussion to be had. The runner-up for Video of the Year for 2008 is:
And the clear and indisputable winner for Video of the Year for 2008 (drum roll, please) is:
Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois has named Roland Burris, a former state attorney general, to replace President-elect Barack Obama in the United States Senate.
Mr. Blagojevich, who faces federal corruption charges including allegations that he tried to sell Mr. Obama’s former senate seat for a high-paying job or money, had not been expected to try to fill the seat. As recently as ten days ago, his lawyer, Edward Genson, said he would not attempt to make an appointment, since Senate leaders had indicated they would not accept anyone whom the beleaguered Mr. Blagojevich had appointed.
The Democratic leaders of the Senate repeated that view on Tuesday, issuing a statement saying it was “truly regrettable that despite requests from all 50 Democratic Senators and public officials throughout Illinois, Governor Blagojevich would take the imprudent step of appointing someone to the United States Senate who would serve under a shadow and be plagued by questions of impropriety.”
The statement continued, “We say this without prejudice toward Roland Burris’s ability, and we respect his years of public service. But this is not about Mr. Burris; it is about the integrity of a governor accused of attempting to sell this United States Senate seat. Under these circumstances, anyone appointed by Gov. Blagojevich cannot be an effective representative of the people of Illinois and, as we have said, will not be seated by the Democratic Caucus.”
The leaders concluded by saying the appointment was “unfair to Mr. Burris, it is unfair to the people of Illinois and it will ultimately not stand.” They called on the governor once again to resign.
I am astounded that Blagojevich had the audacity to go ahead with this appointment and I am equally astounded that Burris accepted this appointment. It is difficult to discern just what either of these gentlemen expects to gain from their actions today. I kind of get the feeling that Blagojevich’s intent is to embarrass as much as possible the Democratic party that has turned against him. I honestly do not know and I believe it will be very interesting to learn in the coming days just what Mr. Burris’ intentions are.
(It was kind of funny, yet sad in a way, to see Congressman Bobby Rush stand up and play the race card as he did. Haven’t we had enough of that nonsense already this year?)
UPDATE #3: President-Elect Barack Obama, whose Senate seat is the one in question, issued the following statement:
“Roland Burris is a good man and a fine public servant, but the Senate Democrats made it clear weeks ago that they cannot accept an appointment made by a governor who is accused of selling this very Senate seat. I agree with their decision, and it is extremely disappointing that Governor Blagojevich has chosen to ignore it.
“I believe the best resolution would be for the Governor to resign his office and allow a lawful and appropriate process of succession to take place. While Governor Blagojevich is entitled to his day in court, the people of Illinois are entitled to a functioning government and major decisions free of taint and controversy.”
In this week’s weekly address, President-Elect Barack Obama calls on Americans to honor our service men and women and to think of those Americans being hurt by our sluggish economy.
“This season of giving should also be a time to renew a sense of common purpose and shared citizenship,” he says. “Now more than ever, we must rededicate ourselves to the notion that we share a common destiny as Americans – that I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper. Now, we must all do our part to serve one another; to seek new ideas and new innovation; and to start a new chapter for our great country.”
Watch the full address or read the text below.
(HD video – watch in normal quality)
The full text of the address, as prepared for delivery, is below the fold.
Much to the chagrin of extremists right wingers who are looking for scandal at every turn these days, White House Counsel-designate Greg Craig released his report this afternoon concerning contacts between President-Elect Barack Obama, his staff and the disgraced governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich and his staff. The report was prepared and released at the direction of the President-Elect. You may read it in its entirety here (.pdf file).
The President-Elect had no contact or communication with Governor Blagojevich or members of his staff about the Senate seat. In various conversations with transition staff and others, the President-Elect expressed his preference that Valerie Jarrett work with him in the White House. He also stated that he would neither stand in her way if she wanted to pursue the Senate seat nor actively seek to have her or any other particular candidate appointed to the vacancy.
After Ms. Jarrett decided on November 9, 2008 to withdraw her name from consideration as a possible replacement for him in the Senate and to accept the White House job, the President-Elect discussed other qualified candidates with David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel. Those candidates included Representatives Jan Schakowsky and Jesse Jackson, Jr., Dan Hynes and Tammy Duckworth. The President-Elect understood that Rahm Emanuel would relay these names to the Governor’s office as additions to the pool of qualified candidates who might already be under consideration. Mr. Emanuel subsequently confirmed to the President that he had in fact relayed these names. At no time in the discussion of the Senate seat or of possible replacements did the President-Elect hear of a suggestion that the Governor expected a personal benefit in return for making this appointment to the Senate.
Mr. Emanuel had one or two telephone calls with Governor Blagojevich. Those conversations occurred between November 6 and November 8, 2008. Soon after he decided to accept the President-Elect’s offer to serve as Chief of Staff in the White House, Mr. Emanuel placed a call to the Governor to give him a heads up that he was taking the Chief of Staff’s position in the White House, and to advise him that he would be resigning his seat in the House of Representatives. They spoke about Mr. Emanuel’s House seat, when he would be resigning and potential candidates to replace him. He also had a brief discussion with the Governor about the Senate seat and the merits of various people whom the Governor might consider. Mr. Emanuel and the Governor did not discuss a cabinet position, 501c(4), a private sector position for the Governor or any other personal benefit for the Governor…
Ms. Jarrett had no contact or communication with Governor Blagojevich , with his Chief of Staff, John Harris or with any other people from the Governor’s office about a successor to replace the President-Elect in the United States Senate or how the decision should be made. Nor did she understand at any time prior to his arrest that the Governor was looking to receive some form of payment or personal benefit for the appointment. Her only contact with the Governor was at the Governor’s Conference in Philadelphia on December 2, 2008, over three weeks after she had decided not to pursue the Senate seat and had accepted the President-Elect’s offer to work in the White House. She had a brief conversation with him on that occasion. He wished her well…
Mr. Axelrod had no conversations with anyone outside the President-Elect’s immediate circle about who should replace the President-Elect in the United States Senate. No one ever came to Mr. Axelrod to propose a deal involving the selection of a replacement, and nothing came up in any of his conversations with the President-Elect or the members of the President-Elect’s immediate circle that suggested that the Governor was seeking some kind of quid pro quo for the appointment…
Sorry, guys and gals, but there’s nothing here. So sorry to disappoint you this close to Christmas. I guess you’ll just have to go back to harping on that silly claim that our President-Elect is not a natural born citizen of which you all are so terribly fond.
President-Elect Barack Obama and his family are in Hawaii for a bit of a vacation over the holidays. I guess you could say that he’s recharging his batteries for the humongous task that awaits him. (Just 28 days left.) He looks like he may be up to the challenge.
Ladies and gentlemen, the 44th President of the United States of America…
Dayum! A president with a six-pack. Now that’s change we can believe in!
(I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist. Everybody on the internets is posting this picture. I of course had to join the party. No? Now, of course, the question becomes: Does he body wax?)