Reid On Tape Manipulating Illinois Senate Seat Before Blago's Arrest

Thursday I described The Ugly Legal Optics Of Harry Reid’s Burris Battle. There is a new cloud dimming the already ugly optics. An article that just hit the website of the Chicago Sun Times reports Harry Reid already had his heavy ham fisted hand deep in Illinois state politics well before Blagojevich was arrested:

Days before Gov. Blagojevich was charged with trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder, top Senate Democrat Harry Reid made it clear who he didn’t want in the post: Jesse Jackson, Jr., Danny Davis or Emil Jones.

Rather, Reid called Blagojevich to argue he appoint either state Veterans Affairs chief Tammy Duckworth or Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, sources told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Sources say the Senate majority leader pushed against Jackson and Davis — both democratic congressmen from Illinois — and against Jones — the Illinois Senate president who is the political godfather of President-elect Barack Obama — because he did not believe the three men were electable. He feared losing the seat to a Republican in a future election.

This is certainly a stunningly rich development from about every perspective imaginable. Harry Reid has threatened to use the Capitol Police to forcefully haul Roland Burris off the Senate floor should he try to enter because he feels Burris is tainted by Blagojevich’s shady machinations of the open Senate seat. Only it turns out that Reid is the one smack in the middle of Blago’s machinations, not Burris. And it would appear he is on Pat Fitzgerald’s wiretaps doing so.

Blagojevich spokesman Lucio Guerrero confirmed that Reid (D-Nev.) and U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) — the new chief of the Senate Democratic political operation — each called Blagojevich’s campaign office separately Dec. 3. Sources believe that at least portions of the phone conversations are on tape.

Before their contacts, Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel called Blagojevich to tell him to expect to hear from Senate leadership because they were pushing against Jackson and others, according to statements the governor made to others.

The Reid-Menendez calls came a day before a Dec. 4 conversation overheard on government wiretaps where Blagojevich says he “was getting ‘a lot of pressure’ not to appoint Candidate 5.” Candidate 5 is Jackson.

Did I mention that this is a nightmare from every available tangent? Not only is Harry Reid on tape with his finger stuck in the Illinois state pie, we now have Rahm Emanuel, the President-Elect’s Chief of Staff, running flak for Reid’s heavy handed interposition. Now it is certainly understandable that Emanuel and his boss, Obama, would have interest in Obama’s former Senate seat; but, again, the appearance here is unseemly at best.

That said, the main story for the moment is Harry Reid and the Senate leadership. There is no basis for believing Harry Reid is a racist, or that his actions here are particularly racially motivated, but it is no longer possible to dismiss the overtones that the picture must be starting to paint for some African American citizens in Illinois. Reid has been steadfastly determined to block the appointment of three black elected politicians – Emil Jones, Danny Davis and Jesse Jackson, Jr. because they are supposedly "not electable"; in favor of a white woman, Tammy Duckworth who has, you know, been previously found unelectable by the voters of Illinois. Or another white woman, Lisa Madigan, who managed to get elected mostly on the coattails of her powerful Chicago machine daddy. Lovely; what a picture that paints.

Oh, and now that nice gentlemanly 71 year old Roland Burris, another black man, who has previously been elected to statewide office in Illinois, can’t be permitted in the hallowed Senate doors either. George Wallace must be laughing his butt off at Reid’s bad optics and unseemly folly. And this is all occurring over the seat of the only black man in the lilly white United States Senate that was just vacated by the groundbreaking President-Elect Barack Obama. Malignant idiocy abounds.

Harry Reid will be the featured guest on Meet the Press Sunday morning. Jane Hamsher has already raised the curious difference between how Reid and the Democratic leadership has treated Roland Burris and how they handled and accepted Joe Lieberman, Harriet Miers, Karl Rove, Ted Stevens and Larry Craig, or for that matter the evisceration of Habeas Corpus, the Fourth Amendment and the Geneva and UN Conventions against torture. No moral leadership whatsoever was shown on any of those; anybody think it will occur to self aggrandized inquisitor David Gregory to examine Harry Reid over the discrepancy?

I’m taking odds, because I don’t think David Gregory has the journalistic chops or the moral guts to ask the hard questions that have been asked here. Any takers?

  1. RevDeb says:

    You’d think that Harry would have the sense to know that Blago was being tapped. Hell, we all could have figured that one out!

    I’m tired of the poker and wrestling metaphors used for Harry. At this point in time he doesn’t have the sense he was born with.

    • jtay says:

      You’d think Reid, with just obviously a smidgin of a brain, wouldn’t be so stupid as to dismiss the merits of four highyly qualified African-Americans (Danny Davis, Emil Jones, Burris, and even “bears watching” Jesse Jr.)in favor of Tammy Duckworth or Lisa Madigan. These ladies have their own merits, but not in this situation. Reid’s comments clearly smack of racism. Reid further gives credence to the thought that he, like Gov. Blagojevich, the high priest of stupdity, is first in line for the title of DIMWIT personified.


    • raina says:

      The list Obama reportedly gave Emanuel to relay to Blago’s office consisted of Jesse Jackson Jr., Jan Schakowsky, Dan Hynes, and Tammy Duckworth, with Lisa Madigan and Cheryle Jackson added at some point.

      I wonder if Reid had any feelings about Schakowsky, Hynes, and/or Ms. Jackson that weren’t reported, since it looks like they were left off of his short list too.

      I find the choice of Madigan interesting because if she were to fill the Senate seat it would leave another open position for Blago to appoint, and she is a promising candidate to replace him.

      And I’m surprised Duckworth made the short short list, though after reading Nate’s poll numbers perhaps I shouldn’t have been.

  2. Palli says:

    Power brokers wasting our time. I want governance.
    And yes, the overtones were always there… and I do suspect the “unconscious” racism that conveniently supports the powers that be.

  3. BoxTurtle says:

    Ya know, if the GOP uses this to force Reid out, we’d owe them a favor.

    Reid has few options, all of them bad. I think the only thing he can do is seat Burris. And give him the committee assignments that the most Junior Senator would likely get.Even if he can legally deny Burris the seat (questionable), it would be manifestly unwise. As others have said, imagine the photo op of Mr Burris in handcuffs.

    And even if he backs off, it’s certain the GOP will use his suggestions to not seat Frankin. So he’s still got a fight, one he apparently didn’t see coming.

    Worst case of crainorectal inversion I’ve ever seen.

    Boxturtle (Harry, you’ve been punk’d. Try to be a good loser)

      • BoxTurtle says:

        I bet Burris would INSIST on handcuffs. You think a man with his ego would miss a chance to be in one of the greatest civil rights photos of all time?

        Sad thing is, Burris as a senator would be a good as any and better than most. The Dems will NEVER forgive him for forcing them through this and he’ll always be associated with Blago in folks mind. He’ll be completely ineffective during his short tenure.

        Boxturtle (Wonders if Blago will be on the senate floor Tuesday)

        • Palli says:

          Reid and Democratic senators have free will…nobody is forcing them to be stupid and act like self-righteous republicans…seating Senator-recountelect Franken over the republican pissing match is the danger now. (I apologise for my language but “tit for tat” sounds too feminine for the occassion)

        • oldoilfieldhand says:

          the Senator from Illinois, Roland Burris, could caucus with the Democrats in the senate to help pass President Obama’s stimulus legislation for the good of Illinois and the United States. That in itself would be effective I think.

  4. SaltinWound says:

    Can we retire the word “optics” for a little while? It’s getting to be as overused as “kabuki.”

  5. Arbusto says:

    I agree that Gregory is an ass kisser and will continue Russerts awful interviewing style. What will be interesting is if the interview will show Gregory’s political bias, not that I give a shit or would watch in any case.

    What a putz!

  6. foothillsmike says:

    Reid really needs to be relegated to the “unfortunate category” in history.
    If the dems do not oust him then he needs to be defeated in 2010 even if it means supporting a rethug.
    409 hrs & 16 min

  7. TPOp says:

    Oh, come on. The key words in the story are: “Days before Gov. Blagojevich was charged….”.

    There’s nothing unethical about the Senate Majority leader communicating his opinions to the man who will do the appointing. There’s nothing here to indicate that Reid knew anything about the investigation.

    Calm down.

    • foothillsmike says:

      While there may not be anything unethical about his conveying his thoughts on the position I find it very curious that all four of the candidates he is opposed to are black.
      409 hrs & 10 min

    • PJEvans says:

      The whole thing is ‘days before’. What’s bad is Reid sticking his nose into the mess: he’s not from Illinois and he has no business trying to influence the appointment.

      I’d also bet that Rahm was doing his best to influence who got to be his own replacement. Bet he’s wondering how much of that Fitz has on tape.

  8. jdmckay says:

    Yah, what a mess. Dems snatching disaster from victory, what else is new?

    What bothers me more is, given massive problems everywhere: Gaza, Iraq’s marriage w/Iran, econ, massive DOJ malfeasance… not to mention BushCo/repub apologists out in full force filling the void of W’s record w/bullshit… that this is the story.

    Rice has said BushCo “laid a foundation” for Palestinian/Israeli peace, and Blago & Burris is the story. “Typical democratic corruption” as opined in our paper of record 2 days ago by Vic Hansen, while paper’s host OpED bashed BO for econ “going to get worse before it gets better” meme. Whole ‘nuther crowd out filling the airways w/econ-meltdown-had-nothing-to-do-with-bush, not to mention Bush/Rice et’al claims of Iraq-success, and this is what we’ve got for headlines.


  9. lllphd says:

    hm. well, i have to agree with TPOp. or at least i would reword it to say there is nothing ILLEGAL about reid’s communications. or emmanuel’s, either.

    the ethical question is still not entirely clear to me. while we seem to be finding boogeymen under every headline, taking the counter-argument, i honestly cannot imagine how the selection process would be done without any input from the national party leadership. there has to be some strategizing involved in order to optimize a selection, and that seems to be what reid was trying to convey. the fact that blago has taken such a renegade attitude, demanding quid pro quo for his valuable choice, is what is the utmost of unethical behaviors in all this mess.

    to make my point more directly, if any of us had been in blago’s position, it is hard to imagine that we would be making such a decision without input from the party leadership. i suspect that we would want candid input and discussion about the pros and cons of the various possibilities, not just for statewide politics, but nationally, and proceed with an attitude of “we’re all in this together, let’s see what we can come up with together.”

    i also imagine that, if any of us had been in such a position and suspected any underhanded reasoning or power plays at work, we’d have called the players on this and eliminated their input. i’ll add racist inclinations to that, and it is a bit suspect that all the rejected candidates from reid’s corner are black, but i’ll leave that accusation for further research on the backgrounds of these four men. things about burris that have emerged do not leave me warm and fuzzy, and though i’ve admired jjj for a while, i can see how he might be considered difficult to elect statewide. the others, i don’t know.

    but my larger point remains. i am just not sure what party politics would look like if the party leadership did not weigh in on such selections. i mean, what would be the point of a national party if that were the case?

    one way to look at this distinction would be to review just how bennett was selected in CO. i have to believe reid’s opinion was consulted, for example, and salazar’s, as well. when compared to what’s happened in IL, the only difference is that blago made it corrupt by trying to sell the seat. and that’s what fitz pointed out. consulting about choices is not illegal, and neither is it unethical, in my humble opinion. you cross the line when it becomes a quid pro quo.

    is that such a hard distinction? evidently obama’s camp didn’t think so, and declined blago’s offer. isn’t that where fitz is drawing the line?

    • bmaz says:

      In the first place, I never said Reid or Emanuel was unethical. Never. I said it looked really bad for them to be lobbying against black people that have proven themselves repeatedly to be electable to political offices in order to lobby for the appointment of a white woman who has proven herself to not be electable. And Reid and Emanuel were doing this on a supposed electability argument. That is what I said looks terrible. And it does.

  10. BooRadley says:

    Thanks bmaz. I find it very interesting that Harry couldn’t find anyone to “carry his water.” Among several possibilities, it suggests that EVERYONE knew Blago’s phones were tapped, but somehow failed to make that clear to Harry.

    OT, thank you for this:

    how Reid and the Democratic leadership has treated Roland Burris and how they handled and accepted Joe Lieberman, Harriet Miers, Karl Rove, Ted Stevens and Larry Craig, or for that matter the evisceration of Habeas Corpus, the Fourth Amendment and the Geneva and UN Conventions against torture. No moral leadership whatsoever was shown on any of those;

  11. spoonful says:

    Does Harry have to stand for re-election as Senate President? I’d like to see Russ Feingold do what Henry Waxman did – maneuver enough votes to knock a tired old goat from his perch.

    • lllphd says:

      that’s not feingold’s style, nor does it seem to be his ambition.

      and don’t kid yourself; waxman did what he did with full and unequivocal support from reid. or it would never have happened.

      that’s how politics works up there, it seems. and it just does not seem all that bizarre to me.

      the senate seat from a state is NOT limited to state politics; it has HUGE implications for party policy and how things get done on the hill. to think otherwise is to foster a gross naivete, in my opinion. and maybe not naivete, but just plain blindness. i mean, how in sam hell would party politics work at all if there were no communication on such things as this??

      • spoonful says:

        Maybe Feingold as successor is wishful thinking, but Reid’s hold on his position was tenuous before, now this “appearance” of racism, regardless of the legitimate political motivations, just adds to his jeopardy.

        • lllphd says:

          ooh, woopsie; lingering winter crud still has my brain in a sinus strangle. of course, pelosi is in charge of waxman’s move.

      • FormerFed says:


        The House and the Senate really are two distinct bodies of Congress. I doubt that Reid even knew what Henry was doing. Now in regards to Pelosi, that is a different story.

  12. lllphd says:

    i’d also like to add that i hold a reserved favorable opinion of reid. i don’t pretend to know the nasty intricacies of hill politics, but he has impressed me more than once, while also disappointing me often.

    what disturbs me about these tirades folks go on is that they seem to spring from a perspective that those we elect should oughta be making the same decisions we as individuals do. and if they don’t, we filet them. there are of course some pretty overt displays of deceit and corruption, but that goes without saying; we can’t sit still for those acts. but when it comes to making things happen on the hill, it’s far more complicated, and i’ve been sitting back and waiting for the shift to happen to see how the leadership will behave now.

    i’ve said it frequently that the repugs are so irrational and mean-spirited and myopic and just plain stupid and incompetent that it’s often impossible to discern what they’ll do. except to expect them to obstruct all manner of things that will further the common good. one strategy to take in such a situation is to give the idiots enough rope to hang themselves, and then push the chair out from under them.

    i can see that strategy operating to some extent in obama’s choices. he seems to have a good handle on the difference between winning battles and wars; he knows how to pick them and how to let them go, just like a good poker player.

    reid is also a poker player. i give him credit for keeping above the fray. and frankly, i do NOT see this latest revelation as anything unseemly. it’s part of party politics, and as such, is not at all inherently unethical.

    • oldoilfieldhand says:

      The big problem with the Senate is they believe the press and consider themselves an August body, deeming their superior intelligence requires them to vote their own conscience. WRONG! Representative government means that the representatives vote the wishes of their constituents, and that’s the ONLY purpose they serve. If they don’t serve the wishes of their constituents, they should be voted out of office!

      • lllphd says:

        hm. well, actually, no. the house is the body that represents the people. the senate represents the states. and if you look closely at the history behind the designation of these two bodies, the senate was actually designed to be precisely what you describe, the august body of seasoned servants who would override the potential pitfalls of mob rule.

        there is such the fine line between voting conscience and voting as a representative of the people. but ultimately, members of the house are the ones who are more bound by this notion than senators are.

  13. Mary says:

    I think Gregory absolutely will ask Reid questions that are tough for him to answer and will make him look like a doddering, corrupt piece of work – they just won’t be questions that involve things like habeas, MCA, torture, DTA, felony wiretaps, etc. – things that Gregory’s crew have all been behind with Reid.

    I’d think it will go more along the lines of set ups on how anyone invovled with Blagojevich is tainted now, and doesn’t that mean Reid is tainted for his contacts and will Reid be called as a witness and does he expect charges himself or against PEBO COS or other prominent Dems and what does the Dem party do, now, after Spitzer and Blago and Kilpatrick yada yada. Probably toss in a question on whether Obama will keep Fitzgerald on and some questions over the Trib story that will manage to make both Jackson Jr and Reid look flesh crawling sleazy (not a difficult job).

    The journalists and lawyers and Republicans have, with a HUGE assist from Dems like Schumer and Reid and Obama himself, “Clintonized” the incoming administration and distracted from any possibility of war crimes prosecutions or prosecutions or ethics charges against current or former DOJ members who sat center on torture, illegal surveillance and political agendas for prosecutions. It’s all going to be about the corrupt Dems (and why not?) and even if there were an effort now by anyone to do the right thing vis a vis torturers and people who disappear children for “enhance interrogation opportunities” it will be framed to look like a wag the dog effort to distract from their own internal cesspool.

    Fitzgerald has handed over a gift to the RNC and the Judy Milleresque journalists that will just keep giving. I’m trying to care, but I just don’t see that much difference between the corrupt Dems; the corrupt DOJ; the corrupt Reps; and the corrupt journos. It’s hard to root for any of them to get the “upper hand” in their mud wrestling brawl.

  14. Mary says:

    Completely beside the point on the central issues, I think it’s interesting that Reid was pushing Emmanuel’s pic, Duckworth, and Madigan while Obama (and presumably his COS??or not) were pushing Jarrett. Emmanuel managing to get his own agenda pushed despite what his position might be with Obama.

  15. Mary says:


    Of course there’s nothing illegal about we what is appearing on Reid’s contacts, but OTOH, what has been illegal about Burris’ contacts with Blagojevich? And yet Reid himself, with assists from the Dem leadership, has managed to make sure no one is getting out the message that of course people will be dealing with the Gov over the seat and there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as people weren’t trying to buy the seat or the Gov wasn’t trying to make them agree to a quid pro quo that involved items of worth and that they were willign to go along with.

    Instead, they’ve helped create this feeding frenzy that ANY contact with Blago on the seat is tainted (hence not seating Burris) January is a weird time for reaping, but I guess it all depends on what you planted.

    • bmaz says:

      Exactly. And precisely why I said:

      Only it turns out that Reid is the one smack in the middle of Blago’s machinations, not Burris. And it would appear he is on Pat Fitzgerald’s wiretaps doing so.

      • LabDancer says:

        I’m thinking the shock value of learning that someone you’ve heard of before was in contact with MacBlago between the election and the arrest is headed into a downward spiral. Given anything close to the 60 days Fitz was granted before having to come up with an indictment, I’m figuring the Trib can look forward to running a feature on the handful of school kids and shutins still in the running for “Most Incorruptible Illini”.

        • bmaz says:

          Yeah, they may have to actually import clean souls to have any. But you got to go to post with the Illinois you got, not the Illinois you want.

          Or something Rumsfeldian like that.

        • LabDancer says:

          When I was a puppy prosecutor for a time I was custodian on the court grants for wirtetapping, and the folks in the court system responsible for inventory coded them with, among other things, consecutive numbers. Leaving aside what was being Hoovered out of Washington, those numbers, as well as the scope and the duration [some with all the permanency of a sparkler] seem very quaint now.

          A few years ago I was parachuted into the case where the number of grants in a single investigation had piled up so high, each with scopes about the size of a medium-sized city, the investigators got to the point of begging to put an end to the venture, they were so far behind in co-relating conversations to individuals; one fellow defending attorney determined that over one holiday weekend the feds scooped up over 6,000 separate calls just on cell phones.

          What with the somewhat more comprehensive gauge settings under the Bush administration, I’m thinking the shock would be if nobody posting here was recorded on at least one call.

          “Pizza Pizza! 114 consecutive hours without a health department citation! Whacanwedoferya?”

          • LabDancer says:

            Any time now I expect Roland Burris to show up here and tell ew and bmaz he’s been a long-time lurker, first-time poster and wish us all a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

    • BooRadley says:

      January is a weird time for reaping, but I guess it all depends on what you planted.

      Feel as though I should send you a check for the little gems like this, which appear so routinely in your comments.

  16. foothillsmike says:

    The fact is that Burris is the legitimate nominee now. Blago is the gov.; the Illinois supreme court issued a ruling that he is not unable or unqualified to perform his constitutionally mandated responsibilities. Any thing that happens from here out is ex poste facto.
    Senator Burris! All else now is just inconsequential.
    408 hrs & 3 min

  17. oldtree says:

    Well, the proof is on the table. Congress has sold itself to the highest bidder. The highest bidder isn’t the people of the country. Imagine trying to stop Burris from entering, and they can’t even compel anyone to appear by subpoena. Who has the keys to the building?

  18. Eureka Springs says:

    Boy oh boy… If folks like Reid and PEBO are going to let Rahm get away with suggestions as weak and downright subversive as Tammy Duckworth. We better plan on treating these folks just like Bush Jr.

    All of these people are going to be war criminals on day one, with no intention of looking back or allowing any scrutiny of the past or present course this country is on.

    Class war criminals, too.


    Not bright at all. Pure Blue Dog, at best.

    A soldier who lost both her legs needlessly in a needless war, yet she still believes the fighting in Iraq needed to continue and campaigned that way. How dangerously stupid can one possibly be?

    Less than zero electabilty.. even when Rahm forked over way to much campaign money.
    She is obviously a puppet in the making. A guaranteed yes Rahm – I’ll vote exactly as you tell me. Quite likely a seat holder for Rahm, if he ever wanted his old seat back.

    I wouldn’t call it racist, yet, but I won’t waste a single breath at the coffee shop defending these cretins if they are called such things.

    However it is a direct assault on progressives. A direct assault on our party building efforts and our country as a whole at this time. A direct assault on all the people who work hard the old fashioned way for a chance to serve in the U.S. senate someday. And we wonder why they just forked over hundreds of billions to those in the financial industry who failed us, and should now be in jail.

    Just playing these games when so much is at stake and time is precious!

    Sitting where I am in the middle of the plantation caucus (Arkansas), I can only tell you I would dance in the streets for days, if my state had one Jan Schakowsky, experienced and more than ready to take a senate seat..

    Harry and Rahm are not just wrong, they are the party enemy within.

  19. nextstopchicago says:

    I doubt Reid has strong personal feelings on the electability of those three men in Illinois.

    I’d guess that Reid’s opinions have been formed by Illinoisans he’s talking to, which would probably be Durbin and Rahm among others. Rahm had a channel to Blagojevich, but Durbin didn’t. Durbin was also the biggest cheerleader for Duckworth.

    While I agree in most ways with what Marcy has written, it’s not fair to say the voters of Illinois passed on Duckworth. She ran very well in a district that’s been Republican for decades.

    Having said that, I think we need a black Senator here. A week ago, I’d have said that politically anyone decent would do, but that’s no longer the case.

    I’d like to see Valerie Jarrett change her mind. I think she’d be a great choice a la Bennet in Colorado. I don’t think Burris can win. The Roland/Rolanda/tombstone/divine selection/talking about himself in the third person stuff is horrendous politics anyway, but the real problem is that these things aren’t out of character. If he’s in the public spotlight, there’s going to be more of that crap.

    • Eureka Springs says:

      You realy think the way Rahm and Durbin pushed aside Cigelis was the right thing to do? And you really think Duckworth was anywhere near the top twenty or fifty best folks for the House, much less Senate seat?

    • sagesse says:

      Well I hate to sound like an anti-Mormon broken record, but I live in the middle of this red state culture, and Reid is a Mormon. Whenever I see him, I and look at him through that lens, his actions make sense. Mormon’s have a long history of not thinking too much of black folks. This link was just posted this morning on another blog, while discussing how the South and Utah and Idaho are still where they are politically.


      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        Well, with all due respect my personal experience growing up in a community with a lot of Mormons (including sleeping over as kids, birthday parties, etc), my personal experience is that the particular people that I grew up among had tremendous faith, strong principles, a deep sense of family, valued honest dealings, and therefore although I can kind of follow some of the expressed frustration here, it is completely at odds with my own personal experience.

        And climbing up to the longer view, the work done by the Mormons to archive geneological information has, ironically or otherwise, substantially contributed to a whole array of research into genetic disorders (which often include learning disabilities).

        Just a different perspective from where I sit.

        • lllphd says:

          that’s helpful, thanks. and in fact, i’m vaguely remembering a story about some incident in reid’s past where he was sort of politically expected to behave in a questionable manner, and he completely lost it, incensed that his integrity was assumed to be questionable.

          watching him since he took over this current role, he just strikes me as careful and calculating toward his agenda. but i still say we don’t know enough about what’s going on with all this. blago has just dumped a huge stinkbomb for no greater reason that to make a big stink. hard to deal with someone like that; they’re liable to do anything. gotta give it to him, tho; even if he’s going down, put all of his adversaries in a pickle.

          • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

            That story about Reid was in a New Yorker profile (if you’re interested, you could probably Google the link) a few years ago. Being from Nevada, it’s really pretty damn funny that Reid is encountering the flagrantly — almost effusively — corrupt Blago in Illinois. But someone wanted to bribe Reid, and IIRC it was around the time of Abscam. Evidently, Reid reported it to the FBI, or else they were listening in and apparently one or two law enforcement people had to pull Reid away from the guy who had tried to bribe him because Reid was so insulted, incensed, and indignant.

            Say what you will, but that actually synchs with my sense of some of the people that I grew up around. They’re traditionally ‘outside’ of mainstream, the moved West and worked unbelievably hard to settle what was essentially ‘barren scrub land’, and the women… man, what stamina those earlier generations had (!). Really impressive, whether you happen to agree with their politics, or not. So because of my background, I found that New Yorker story about Reid totally believable.

            Also interesting, at the time it was published, I think it was pre-Katrina and Reid had just become Senate Leader because the GOP sleazebots had screwed Daschle. And at that time, many (if not most) of Reid’s constituents still thought that Bush was a good guy, doing his best, no more 9-11’s blah-blah-blah. And you could tell that Reid was — in NEVADA! — telling his Mormon constituents that he thought GWBush was not who they hoped he’d be. Anyway, basically his constituents still liked Bush at that time, and he was NOT telling them what they wanted to hear… and he’s now been shown to be accurate (in spades!).

            As for the Mormons, I really try not to comment much about CA’s Prop 8, which I think was so far beyond appalling that it’s upsetting. But the Mormons put a lot of money into that anti-gay measure.

            So, lllphd, IIRC you are a shrink?
            Well… when AIDS was first in the news in the early 1980s, I recall my father being really mournful one day, and it turned out that a Mormon man from Salt Lake City, for whom he had the highest regard, had come into his office looking like an ashen, listless ghost. My father was really alarmed for his friend, and got him out for a walk at lunchtime. The man could hardly keep himself together; his wife and he had a son on whom their ’sun’ rose and shone. He was living in SF and had just contacted them that he’d contracted AIDS. They had not realized their son was gay, and upon realizing that they were going to lose him, they were also unable to call upon the support of their local ’stake’ (Mormon church) that was a central pillar of their lives. So here were these fine, decent people losing what was most dear in their lives, and they felt they could not tell their best friends and the neighbors who’d watched this young man grow up.

            Don’t tell me that doesn’t take a huge toll.
            I don’t know whether they left their church, but they certainly felt profoundly alienated.

            And having grown up in a community, I’ll simply stop by pointing out that not everyone grows up heterosexual; not even in Mormon families. I have a quiet suspicion that the Mormon support of Prop 8 is more quietly, profoundly tragic than most on the ‘lefty blogs’ really understand. When you basically funnel money to tell your own siblings that the way God made them doesn’t skew with what the church says, then… I dunno. It just makes me want to pass out Q-tips to clean out their ears so they can listen better to the pauses and silences about what people are too afraid to talk about within their own families.

            Tragic and wasteful beyond belief.

            But I don’t blame Harry Reid for that situation.

            BTW: That New Yorker article also speaks of Reid as having grown up with alcoholic parents, on the ‘wrong side of the tracks’ in a little dustpit mining town. Don’t know where you are from, but that suggests to me that he grew up among Basques, Native Americans, and Mormons. IMHO, take any two of the fore mentioned groups and you’re talking about some of the toughest ethnic groups in this nation.

            I watch the lefty blogs rail about Reid, but my own personal background based in arid regions of the West, and I really think that the lefty blogs totally underestimate Reid, and they completely misread him.

            I also find it fascinating – sort of in terms of ‘watching dramas play out’ that Reid, a guy who made his own way, who would know a lot about alcoholism – seems to really have a sixth sense about GWBush. One thing we know for sure is that GWB has a thin skin and he ‘goes ballistic’ whenever his ego is publicly trashed. And watch how low-key Reid (and Pelosi) always are when they deal with GWB.

            Honestly, it seems to me that we often get way too emotional.
            IMHO, historians will have far more regard for Reid than we do today.
            He’s far more ‘below the surface’ and steady than the hysterics on the lefty blogs seem to see.

            People on the left underestimate his toughness, they underestimate his fundamental decency (at least, that’s my guess), and they underestimate his near-brilliant handling of an extremely dangerous GWB and Dick Cheney.

            Okay, off my soapbox now.

            • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

              I should summarize: I do not think that people with little to zero experience of what it would take for a kid growing up in a house with two alcoholic parents, in a dusty dirtbin town realize it must have taken for Reid to get not only to college, but law school — every single nickle on his own.

              That, to my mind, is a phenomenal achievement.
              Add in the fact that he and his wife had young children when he was in law school, and he must be incredibly self-disciplined, organized, driven, and determined.

              I’ve seen kids who have never been taken to a restaurant; they’re embarressed at how to order from a menu. To them, McDonalds is like a piece of heaven or a dream. A dental visit is a luxury they can’t imagine. Their clothes come from the church, or from an older sibling. They cannot imagine a brand new dress all their own. And I have a hunch that Harry Reid must have had to pick up all those kinds of social experiences, and social skills — that, to me, is really incredibly impressive.

              McConnell and Corker and those GOP weenies — if any one of them had been born in Searchlight, NV to alcoholic parents, they sure wouldn’t be in the US Senate.

              When I ‘pray’, or ‘meditate’, or whatever it is that I do, I send some good thoughts Harry Reid’s way. It may put me completely at odds with many on the lefty blogs, but I’ve got a powerful hunch that I probably have a better sense of how impressive a person Reid must be to have achieved what he has.

              And I can’t imagine a better person to ‘manage’ and outthink GWB, a dry drunk, than a man who would probably know a whole lot more about addictive behavior than most of us would ever care to know.

              Reid, IMHO, is hugely underestimated.
              And that is one key to his success (as it is to Cheney’s).
              His lack of evident ego is a national gift, when everyone’s bashing him for a weenie, I just want to say, “Have you ever driven through some of those dusty little mining towns?! Do you realize what it must have taken for Harry Reid to get to college, let alone law school?! And you curse this man for a fool??”

              Sometimes, I think the left needs to take off a few blinders.
              Of all the people in the Senate, arguable Reid is one who has overcome the most, in terms of personal achievement.
              Yet the entire left wants to whine about him?
              Makes me just sigh and shake my head.

              • nextstopchicago says:

                >do you realize what it must have taken for Harry Reid to get to college, let alone law school?

                Um, a willingness to suck up to those who were more powerful? A keen attention to the whims of the powerful, honed as a weak child of mercurial alcoholic parents? Or toughness and determination? Or luck in attracting a valuable mentor outside the family who had access to some financial resources? Or maybe decent intelligence, a few good teachers, and public financing of post-secondary education at a time when it was possible to find decent jobs out west to put yourself through school if you weren’t indian?

                Or some combination of one, two or even three of those?

                No, I don’t actually know. But I’m not particularly convinced by your speculation either. There are lots of potential ways to make it. Having grown up through some difficulty does not automatically make one the-best-of-all-possible-leaders of-Democrats.

                • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

                  Having grown up through some difficulty does not automatically make one the-best-of-all-possible-leaders of-Democrats.

                  Good point. Where good leaders come from remains a mystery, and it would certainly be nice to be able to spot them more easily.

                  I didn’t ask you to be ‘convinced’ by my speculation.
                  lllphd is a sometimes commenter here, and IIRC a psychologist, and we have in the past exchanged views about individuals and their conduct.
                  It’s complete speculation; I have no inside scoop.
                  But I hope that what I do possess on a good day is a reasonable curiosity about people, and about their abilities to create positive change in the world.

                  Whether I look at what I’m told about Harry Reid through the eyes of educational research, or software usability, he appears to be an exceptional person. There are many exceptional people in the US today, and heaven only knows that we need many more of them working in the public sector.

                  It’s my view that Reid is exceptional in ways that many people miss.
                  IMHO, lllphd would have an interesting perspective on that topic.
                  I don’t expect anyone to agree with me; that hasn’t yet stopped me from voicing my views.

                  • Palli says:

                    To all of you information and insights, I thank you…seeing people in the round is too often veiled by emotion, distractions and desire. I see Reid differently

                    But remember, the possible candidates for this Senatorial appointment all have their own rounded lives also. One of my despairs is that the viseral self knowledge of being African American has cultural triggers that pierce deeply into an individual and en masse to the whole body of Black brown yellow red and white peoples. To ignore this is a blindness not insignificant to progress.

                    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

                      Thank you Palli; your comment, as well as your willingness to see other perspectives, is really helpful and you’ve helped me see something in a little different way, as well.

                      I appreciate it.
                      Particularly at a time when the larger news of the world (and wars) is so terribly difficult and painful.

                      I hope your day brings a spot of brightness and peace that your comment has given me this Sunday morning.

                    • lllphd says:

                      dear reader, i always ALWAYS enjoy your input! it’s absolutely so thoughtful and circumspect, and boldly willing to take your own perspective.

                      this has been so helpful, and yes, it was that nytimes piece on reid that told that story of reid’s outrage. i remember being mighty impressed by the whole picture of him, and it has informed my estimate of his positions and decisions ever since.

                      i could not agree with you more on every point you make. first, that reid’s background is even far more impressive than obama’s in terms of what he faced and had to overcome. and i think i made the point earlier that his NV background must certainly have learned some poker face skills. i think also he shares this trait with obama, which is something i truly admire. namely, this capacity to scope out all the players, their cards and their skills and their faces, and just catalog it all and keep it all in mind for future reference.

                      something that you touched on is this tendency of progressives to expose a hyper-ideological bent that can be utterly non-productive, even counter-productive. in fact, i find myself often making comparisons between the entitled attitudes and demanding rhetoric of the far left and right, as if their elected official ‘owes’ it to THEM to do their bidding. something that gets very lost in this particular shuffle is that this really goes directly against the grain of a true democracy. anyone taking that attitude is bordering way close to the edge of tyranny, as we saw with the rightwingnut religious fanatics. it’s unbecoming, at best.

                      but most importantly, it is absolutely NOT democratic. i think reid and obama fully recognize this, along with many others, but almost totally (now, at least) the democrats. that’s one of the biggest reasons i continue to support the party. kinda like will rogers’ reason, not a member of any organized political party. herding cats and all that jazz.

                      the failure to see the importance of this sensitivity, this “we’re all in this together, and we’ll get more done if we try our best to attend to as many folks as we can” thang. it’s very fdr and grapes of wrath and apple pie and american way schmaltzy, but that’s where i am.

                      now, i’m not trying to say that compromising morality should be a matter of course for this sentiment. in fact, one should strive to never compromise integrity. however, it is also immensely important to keep in mind that holding to integrity in one situation may force you to compromise a larger form of integrity in another, more comprehensive situation with larger and more dangerous implications for more people.

                      what i think a lot of extreme progressives fail to recognize, and again in the same way rightwingnuts fail, is that at the level of a democratic congress, these decisions are not always clear or easy. compromises must be made; that is simply inherent in a democracy. one person’s absolute moral may not even enter into another’s equation. people can disagree in entirely opposite ways (e.g., abortion) for entirely the same reasons (e.g., religious). the spectrum is enormous and vast, and often one position must be compromised in order to obtain a bigger prize later on. so it goes.

                      i’m not trying to wax too idealistic here, nor do i want to paint to glib a picture. i just wanted to emphasize this way in which we seem to agree on how much more complex the roles of our reps on the hill really are. and that too many progressives, to my mind, fall prey to the tyrannical and demanding positions of the extreme progressives.

                      reid i think recognizes this full well. and sure, nextstopchicago does make a good point, but reid just does not strike me as terribly tainted. the way i look at it, if there were viable goods on reid, the gopers would have wrung it to death by now. it just drives them nuts to have to deal with a reasonably clean dem. that’s when they just start making things up. kerry and the swift boaties the easiest case in point.

                      a decent man, kerry, as is reid. and to think that he might be a suck up also might miss the point wrt reid. no doubt he learned early on which side of his bread the butter is on, and anyone is wise to tend to such information. can’t fault anyone for that. but the LAST descriptive i’d put to reid is a suckup.

                      at that level of power, and responsibility, one must have a very broad scope and make each decision carefully with a keen eye to the larger objectives. this is a point i’ve tried to emphasize elsewhere (ahem) in the past, with remarkably nasty responses from our supposedly progressive brethren. but another point on which we agree fully is that many (not all, i admit) of the compromises the dems have had to make during this nightmare called the bush years were to a great extent unavoidable. i find it extremely difficult to imagine what it would be like to be put in the unprecedented and absolutely surreal circumstances of post 9/11. in fact, i’d have been rendered unsteady with the 12/10/00 supremes decision; what could it possibly have meant for democrats of integrity. i mean, not even jeffords was able to stomach what was going on, and nothing had even happened yet!

                      and it just got more bizarre. and, i submit, dangerous. as i mentioned in a comment on ew’s antrhax post, i simply would not put anything past what cheney was willing to do at that time, knowing that wellstone reported he’s threatened him and his behavior toward leahy, then leahy gets the envelope, as does daschle. etc. you know, you find yourself in a position like that, and all the stakes shift. these suckers were beyond unreasonable, they were dangerous. deadly dangerous. i mean, christ, they were willing – eager, even – to torture, torch the constitution, let soldiers die and citizens drown. this was not your normal civil discourse they were dealing with, and i can well imagine the leadership had many closed door sessions where they spent full minutes just dumbfounded speechless before they could even begin to formulate anything resembling a strategy. i mean, what would that look like? none of the rules applied. it was all about loopholes, like those slimy lawyers the mob hires. how do you try to deal with that?

                      my suspicion is that the leadership determined to just lie low, try to hold as closely to as many small victories as they could, and hope that the real evildoers would eventually screw up and the tide would turn. in the meantime, i recall clearly the atmosphere at the time. bush’s approval ratings were in the 80s, and the echo chamber was deafening and vicious. all of us stood to lose if we raised our heads too high. there was no telling at that point how bad it would get. i was reminded just how hypervigilant i’d become after this 11/4 and the weight was lifted; the relief! utter relief!

                      i have no delusions that obama is the messiah or even capable of correcting even half the damage bush and his cronies have done. but neither bush nor obama are the point, ultimately; it’s us. and we’re pulling on a very strong wave that stands to hold for at least another generation, giving the polling of kids as young as 15; liberal is the new cool.

                      but we at some point soon need to really review just how bad it was, and i think to cut all those dems in congress some slack for what they had to face. feingold was able to stand tall because his constituency has long been behind him. same for kennedy and leahy. but the repug machinery was exceedingly treacherous; i just don’t think folks realize this. and they also don’t realize that there remain – by design and sinister plan – deep and extensive vestiges of this treachery. it will not just require participation for the citizenry to recover from this assault on our democracy; it will require a heightened and diligent persistence of all of us.

                      and we’ll need to hold all our reps’ feets to the fires, no doubt. i don’t want to dismiss the individual wheelin&dealin factor that inevitably goes on and undoubtedly interferes with ethical behavior. but i don’t think reid or feingold or kerry or kennedy or any number of others typically fall into that category. what they felt they had to do during this bleak period called the bush administration is another matter.

                      all this speaks to the impeachment issues, as well. for the longest i felt strongly we were being failed by congress because they did not take up impeachment. but i’ve come to recognize the hesitation was out of extreme but prudent caution. had the 110th taken this up would have been an enormous risk. bush had made it clear they would not cooperate or share documents or talk or anything like what would normally be expected of the process. they gave contempt of congress the full monty of meaning, they did. i therefore have come to see the wisdom in leaving this for the courts, and under the banner of an entirely new, democratic administration.

                      so now i’ve seen your soapbox and raised you about a dozen. apologies. i have little doubt that this has become a dialogue between us by now, and even doubt that you’re still checking in. but thanks for the inspiration and the concurring thoughts.

                      oh, and finally, on reid. yes, i do agree, and not just as a psychologist. one reason i am a psychologist is that i am fascinated and curious about people, as you describe yourself. i find reid entirely credible. he is low key, calm, tough, and smart. i would not want to get on his bad side, but i also see abundant capacity for his working across the aisle. i also see a great deal of warmth in him, which is the first thing i look for in anyone. i have not seen a republican with an ounce of warmth since before jeffords crossed over the aisle.

                      and to make the punctuating point on reid, and to speak to palli’s important points above, i find reid’s response to gregory’s queries about the accusations that his conversations with blago stemmed from racism far more credible than anything blago might let leak, even from his tail pipe.

                      methinks it would behoove all of us to consider just what blago is up to with all this. he’s hell bent on doing as much damage as he can because he knows he’s going down. he’ll leak anything at this point, so we need to be careful not to fall for his crap. but he’s clearly hoping one of his targets will yell uncle and pull him outa his hell hole before he has to see jail time. that seems to be his way of life.

                      oh, and on that point (chuckle; this soapbox is damn hard to get off of when you’ve been on it a while!!), i spoke with a pal from chicago today, someone who had been to a party last week and met a reporter who’s been on blago’s case for several years. the reporter said blago is just bad to the core, not smart but cunning like a fox, and obama never had anything to do with him beyond what was required politely and politically. there is most likely a good bit of the reverse-elitist resentment coming out of the blago camp, much like what we saw from palin and her ilk. which is again why i’ve been saying that we need to keep in mind that fitz has listened to all those conversations, so the fact that he has openly stated that obama is not involved should tell us something.

                      listen to reid’s confidence here; it reminds me of a subdued version of what his indignant wrath must have looked like with the abscam situation. and yeah, there is no ego there and no need to grandstand. he seems content to state the case and make his record clear. and just like blago to toss the racism card at him without doing his homework.

                      mormon he may be, but not a racist.

                      reader, thanks again very much for your insightful thoughts. fascinating to consider his background through the eyes of someone with your ‘dry western’ background, though more for your incisive take on it all.

                      the rest of you, if you’ve lasted this long, forgive me.

                    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

                      Too late tonight to summarize my thoughts, but between this comment and the subsequent Blago thread, I’d say it’s a fair guess that you and I see dangers that others here seem to miss.

                      The shorter summary for tonight would be this: I’m a Yank. Just am. Don’t have the thought process of ‘an enigma inside a … whatever it was Churchill said’. I just don’t.

                      I live in a culture that for far too long has been shaped by corporatist soundbite info. But I realize that other cultures (especially Japanese) are far, far more contextual.

                      I’ve long suspected that Cheney and the neocons, thinking they run the world, are more suspectible to getting punk’d by Iran, Russia, Pakistan, you-name-it than someone more humble, more curious, or more empathetic and curious.

                      And I strongly suspect that they, and therefore we, have been played for tools.

                      If I sat on any Senate Committees involved in national security, I’d outlaw sound bites. They’d be gone. Outlawed.

                      Because they lack nuance, they heighten a sense of certainty and achievement that is not really earned. In that sense they make us more vulnerable to others whose thinking is more contextual, nuanced, calmer.

                      Going into the future, our survival rests on the ability to keep a nuanced thought in our heads.

                      Sound bites allowed GWBush to claim political power, every bit as much as corruption, Rove’s illegal servers, and other factors did.

                      We have an information disaster on our hands.
                      We have to think different.
                      To do that, we need to have conversations.

                      Thanks to EW and bmaz for tolerance. (Yet again.)

                    • Palli says:

                      Thank you.
                      I so wanted to survive these past years since Dec 12, 2000 with the self-confidance and pride of my young days in the sixties, living lusiously with the full consciousness that I was living & doing the right and moral thing (civil rights and anti-war.) But with these foes there was no action, no message, no way to make them recognize the Right and Just, We were impotent and they knew [know] it and they reveled in it and forever will. They are opprobrious to the very idea of the human community.

            • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

              Okay, off my soapbox now.

              It’s so embarrassing when I make such hypocritical remarks. Alas.
              It’s tough, being human…

        • FormerFed says:

          Yes, and do you know that they “convert” all the non-Mormons that they find – dead or alive and it doesn’t matter if the people “converted” want it or not.

          • PJEvans says:

            They’ve been ordered to not ‘convert’ Jews, but I’ve heard they kind of maybe don’t get the word too well.
            And they always say that it’s up to the convertee whether to accept it or not. (I have this image of a whole lot of dead people sitting there snickering as the Mormons go through those proxy ceremonies for them.)

  20. LabDancer says:

    I note that Burris lately has been calling himself the “legitimately appointed junior U.S. Senator for Illinois”. That’s all he ever wanted, so why couldn’t Reid agree to seat him for the opening ceremonies, let him read into the record as passage from on the travails of the underground railroad, cut him a per diem, whereat Roland regretfully resigns to spend more time with his family mausoleum and we get back to having Obama’s seat assigned the American way: E-bay!

    • bmaz says:

      Well, with the exception, of course, that the commenter at 13 indicated that the nature of the hyperventilating in the post involved ethical versus unethical and nothing could be further from the truth.

      So, there is that….

  21. mamayaga says:

    One small correction: Tammy Duckworth is usually described as Asian, not white, despite her WASPy name.

  22. JohnLopresti says:

    With the Republicans coalescing in opposition to admitting a comedian, the Senate is beginning to appear like it did when there were 48 states in the union, that count fifty-years-ago 96 filled seats being all the machinations of the recent 2008 elections seem to have had the capability to replete. I appreciate that the resistance to Franken is predictable, but likely will be adjudged illegal in Scotus soon enough; the Republicans will not want to have to explain the regression to territory status for MN, though the sole remaining MN senator will have full privileges. I realize these musings are OffTopic. Yet, those who set the pace and appearance, as well as content, of the proceedings of the upper chamber of congress must appreciate the likelihood that a few Franken jokes might afford some cathartic effect, particularly in the light of the arduous work IL politicians must be performing to overcome the embarrassment of Fitzgerald’s payback. There is actually laughter to be heard through all this, even though the Republicans genuinely wish to avoid being the receivers of sen. Franken pranks. But the laughter is at the Democrats, as usual, for their prototypically disorganized condition, a special agony visible to the public when corruption affects the inflience structures. I wonder if the wiretap program might have developed a few politician communities of interest, communicated penregister style, absolutely devoid of names. Someone should ask Fitzgerald how he developed his targets in the case, though maybe it was easy for local reasons, nothing to do with the incidental parallel work of the computerized recording and archival of all community of interest communications while Patriot and then PAA held sway.

    As for the ethnicity conceptions, they seem to play to a certain prurient streak which haunts human ‘melting-pot’ aggregations, likely someday to be considered a passage thru which our epoch worked its way. Republicans are enjoying Bakke pushback everywhere as a way to slow social evolution, while Republicans rearrange and look for more control, dupable constituencies, and ways to mask these initiatives with the patina of championing merit. Which is to say, Democratic party leadership likely needs to advance the interests of the sectors which are targets of the rainbow of discriminations. I thought affirmative action, like the equal rights amendment, obligate. Bakke deserves his place in school and the profession, and Scotus needs to include more women; but the exercise of that outreach needs to end at the zone in which real people with genuine careers take those positions and develop individual achievements which relate to their humanity not their category of some discernible socioeconoethnic aggregation. In other words, I agree with the optical imagery, but to the extent real people are involved, it is stronger to take each on his or her merits. The Democratic party always has been good at this, though has managed to make it look clumsy and excessively nonprivate.

    In specific Burris news, media is reporting a historic charming relationship he developed with the person who is now the seargeant-at-arms of the Senate; while in another article Burris’ associate is saying polite things about being firm and having court permission to enter but not really trying to do so physically unless welcome. I find the suggestion of stripping the new senator of most participation in processes perhaps politically negotiable but probably as illegal as ill-advised, unless there is more than appearance of taint to the appointment. Благо got his payback, but that is all; the rest rests on its merits, and a senatorship includes, evidently, firstly, a desk, as well as committee assignment, so the appointee may perform his work and serve the people of IL.
    Just another day at the office.

  23. nextstopchicago says:

    Eureka, I’m not saying I support anything Durbin or Rahm do. I’m just characterizing where this comes from. My parents were huge Cegelis fans, driving in from out of district to volunteer. I’m basically agnostic about it.

    And in trying to be accurate, there’s something else incorrect in the post. In addition to the fact that Duckworth never lost statewide, only losing in a long-time GOP district, she is an Asian woman.

    I now realize it’s BMAZ’s post, not Marcy’s. BMAZ, I really think you should edit those two things with some strike-through text in your original post. What Reid has done looks ugly enough if you tell the story accurately. I’m sure it wasn’t intentional, but characterizing Duckworth as a statewide loser who is white when neither is true really slants the story. Those aren’t incidental issues given the point you’re trying to make.

  24. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    I’ll have to catch up more fully later in the day, but briefly:
    1. I don’t see Harry Reid as ‘racist’ – if he thought that ANY of those names he didn’t want could win statewide, he’d agree to one of them. Barak Obama received attention back in the New Yorker in 2004 because he was so unusual — he ‘gets’ the Kansas mindset and he also ‘gets’ the urban minority mindset. If any of the three mentioned by Reid as ‘no, do not appoint!’ could get their heads around more points of view than their own, they’d be more electable. And if they were more electable, Reid would support them.
    2. Reid is doing his job, in much the same way that a corporate manager needs to make sure that they recruit and retain good people. Reid is basically performing a personnel recruitment function. He’s in leadership. He needs **electable** appointees who will also be good to work with — if you want to read ‘racism’ into that, you can. I see it from a far more pragmatic perspective.
    3. So Reid called Blago to talk about the Senate appointment? Big. Deal. Wouldn’t it have been bizarrely weird if he hadn’t? For a rough analogy: suppose a division manager finds out his manager in Northern CA has just been promoted. He doesn’t have the power to make the new selection himself, someone else does. You think that division manager isn’t on the phone trying to ensure that the best possible person moves into that position? If he’s not on the phone, then he’s not doing his job.

    What matters is legitimacy and electability.
    Jesse Jackson, Jr is probably not going to win a statewide election in Illinois. He just isn’t. Maybe if he gets out more into a lot more communities, then a few years out he might be able to win a STATEWIDE election. Right now, he represents a district that is not a microcosm of the state.
    Ditto the others mentioned.

    Tammy Duckworth, whether you like her or not, appears to be able to communicate with a much broader range of the public, or at least Reid thinks she can.

    Reid’s just doing his job.
    And the fact that Burris is a minority just complicates this for some people — and Rove will try and inflame people about that fact. But the fact that millions of white, Latino, African, Asian, and other Americans have now shown that race is NOT the basic issue in voting, I think we should all recognize that Burris’s use of ‘racism’ is right out of Jesse Jackson’s tired, old playbook. Let’s send it to the archives and move on.

    What Illinois needs is a smart, competent Senator who can work with Durbin.
    Meanwhile, Colorado is sending a person with interesting, useful experience who looks like he can add to the education debate.
    And here’s hoping that New York gets a Senator who can work on health care or environmental regulation. And banking overhaul — this is probably the ONLY chance that New York will ever have to send anyone to DC who doesn’t represent Wall Street (although if I had a magic wand, I’d appoint Nadler).

    Burris is not up to the job. And Blago’s appointment is further evidence that he neither respects, nor understands, the role of the law in a civil, multiracial, complex society.
    That does not make Reid a racist.

  25. Ishmael says:

    It seems as a matter of law that Blago’s appointment of Burris will be like Bush’s forthcoming pardons of his co-conspirators or potential witnesses against him – morally outrageous, with the suspicion of collusion, but also with a presumption (and reality) of legality that would be almost impossible to overturn, unless it could be shown that Burris actually did give Blago something tangible for the appointment, and there is no evidence at all for that. So, the issue to me is what can be done to ensure that Burris is a reliable 59th vote in the Democratic caucus without politically legitimizing the appointment, and letting the Republicans play politics with it and subsequent vacancies that will likely happen in the next couple of years? I don’t think the party can deny him the nomination in 2010 if he wins a primary fair and square (although perhaps the party has such a provision in its constitution to do so).

    It seems to me that the important thing as well is to establish a defensible precedent – there are going to be Senate vacancies soon enough for Democrats in, shall we say, other “politically colourful” states such as Massachusetts and West Virginia due to ill health and age of Senator Kennedy and Senator Byrd (although there will be an election in Massachusetts, not an appointment, and a Democratic governor’s appointment in West Virginia if the current Democrat is re-elected).

  26. Ishmael says:

    It seems as a matter of law that Blago’s appointment of Burris will be like Bush’s forthcoming pardons of his co-conspirators or potential witnesses against him – morally outrageous, with the suspicion of collusion, but also with a presumption (and reality) of legality that would be almost impossible to overturn, unless it could be shown that Burris actually did give Blago something tangible for the appointment, and there is no evidence at all for that. So, the issue to me is what can be done to ensure that Burris is a reliable 59th vote in the Democratic caucus without politically legitimizing the appointment, and letting the Republicans play politics with it and subsequent vacancies that will likely happen in the next couple of years? I don’t think the party can deny him the nomination in 2010 if he wins a primary fair and square (although perhaps the party has such a provision in its constitution to do so).

    There’s going to be a lot of turnover in the Senate in the next few years, which is a good thing institutionally for a seniority-bound place. For this reason, it seems to me that the important thing as well is to establish a defensible precedent – there are going to be Senate vacancies soon enough for Democrats in, shall we say, other “politically colourful” states such as Massachusetts and West Virginia due to ill health and age of Senator Kennedy and Senator Byrd (although there will be an election in Massachusetts, not an appointment, and a Democratic governor’s appointment in West Virginia if the current Democrat is re-elected).

  27. timtimes says:

    Reid’s a MORMON. They barely tolerate Black folks, and only then as a public relations ploy to keep Mormonism from looking as bad as overtly racist Baptists.

    I hope religion isn’t off limits here. After all, it’s been the basis of Bush’s entire war. Pray for the godless Muslims before torturing and killing them.

    I think the Catholics did the same for the heretics they burned at the stake. Doing otherwise might seem barbaric.


    • FormerFed says:

      AMEN!! I was wondering when someone was going to bring up the fact that Reid is a Mormon. As someone whose Great-Grandmother was forced into a Mormon child bride marriage in the late 1800’s, I have some knowledge of the Mormon faith. My Great-Grandmother was granted a means to get out of the marriage (apparently when things got too hot on polygamy) and met and married my Great-Grandfather.

      I vividly remember taking a tour of the Temple in SLC with a Major that worked for me. He was black and in uniform and was treated with kid gloves. After the tour I asked him how he felt to be the only black person we had seen during the tour and he just chuckled.

      I don’t think anything more is necessary to say about Reid being against Jesse Jr, Davis and Jones (and Burris) other than he is a Mormon and they are black.

      Also do you think Reid would be kicking up his heels now if Duckworth or Madigan had been Blago’s choice?

      This is pure and simple racism on Reid’s part.

  28. rkilowatt says:

    There is always a quid pro quo to be found in politics. What do you think “give and take” means?

    Also, what exactly has Blago been charged with? I have only read of a Fitz’ complaint.

    Specifically, that included talk of fund-raising nebulous stuff like “How much is it worth” and “offerred me nothing”.

    There is the Tribune matter… but pressure to change the editorial content is standard fare of newspapers, such as using certain “hot” stories to get big favors for killing the story or twisting it or watering-down the content. Example[s]…not blowing the whistle[s] on Wall Street and SEC scandals.

    Smells of selective persecution prosecution like Martha Stewart’s affair. Gosh..could that be happening here?

    As for Fitz and me…Fitz has either been bamboozled here, or strong-armed, or fears for his job or is operating on exculpatory data I don’t have. His stage performance in Chicago was good theater. But a “complaint” in political theater? Do they “bleep” on Broadway?

      • skdadl says:

        Me too, although lots of people have been doing good shoe actions today. We’ve been reading about a major shoe action on a freeway near Miami? The state troopers can’t figure out where those thousands of shoes came from? Heh. Whitehall (the major street leading to Downing Street in London) is also apparently paved in shoes.

          • skdadl says:

            A Miami freeway does seem an odd place for an action, although maybe that’s how they got away without being detected. It has certainly raised Miami in many people’s estimation. Otherwise, I think we have no shortage of persons before whom it would be appropriate to lay our dead shoes.

  29. Palli says:

    Probably the tapes will show Reid was speaking appropriately in a manager capacity- advising/suggesting- but I disagree with the premise that his role as Senate manager should use as principle criteria the electability 2 years out of six potential appointees. His first concern is the vote count on Jan. 20, 2009. # 1 consideration should be: Which appointee will be the most solid yea for the democratic majority. I disagree with some others about affirmative action for consideration #2. We will know when we don’t need the an informal quota system: the Senate will look different! A quota system that acknowledges merit is not an impossible task. Any American who looks out over the Senate desks has got to notice…
    Sometimes it feels like Shirley Chisom is still in the coatroom.

  30. Palli says:

    Also Nate Silver has a good workup on the Reid’s faulty assumption that Jackson Jr. would be unelectable. He points out that Reid’s calls were before the Blago bust and makes no transferral to Davis or Jones.

  31. prostratedragon says:

    I’m taking odds, because I don’t think David Gregory has the journalistic chops or the moral guts to ask the hard questions that have been asked here. Any takers?

    Not here. But thanks to bmaz, EW, Jane, and everyone else around here who’s asking them.

  32. nextstopchicago says:

    The Mormons missionaries in their suits riding bikes on the west side of Chicago this winter don’t seem to believe their mission to the black community is pointless.

    Could Harry Reid be racist? Sure. Are many Mormons racist? No doubt. Does the fact that Harry Reid is Mormon add any evidence to the idea he handled this issue the way he did because he’s racist? Not very much, in my mind. Like readerOfTeaLeaves, I’m just adding a counterpoint. I’m not denying the possibilities, but with such a big pile-on against Reid as a Mormon, I too think some perspective is in order. I wouldn’t have bothered if it’d just been a post or two of anti-Mormon sentiment.

  33. lllphd says:

    folks should visit nate silver’s take on all this:…..table.html

    he makes a strong case for why reid might not have felt jjj is particularly ‘electable’.

    he also reports that franken has now sprinted forward to a stunning lead of 225 votes. coleman will contest this to the MN supremes. we’ll see, but meanwhile of course the GOPers will refuse to seat him.

    won’t that be a hoot, if both the repugs AND the dems pick a dem senator to refuse to seat. say what???

  34. freepatriot says:

    Never get in a wrestling match with a pig. you just get covered with shit, and if yer LUCKY, yer AGGRAVATING the pig

    (if yer not lucky, somebody might owe somebody breakfast)