Democrats: Quit your hand-wringing over appointments

Or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Democracy.

During the primaries, I advised people who found themselves condemning Keith Olbermann and National Public Radio and quoting sources like NewsMax, Hannity, and Limbaugh to stop for a minute and think about it: when you find yourself on the side against people whose ability & political view you respect a lot and agreeing with people who you believe are heinous propagandists, you really need to stop and consider why you've come to the conclusions you've come to.

Well, this week I've found myself agreeing with Kosnomore on this blog, and this morning my alarm radio activated to the sounds of Bill Press echoing my belief that we need to back off of Roland Burris's appointment to Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat.  Press, I believe, is one of the worst sort of propagandist Democrats and I had, shall we say, some "primary disagreements" with him.  Kosnomore, of course, is one of the premeir goat-getters on this site; if he has real motivations beyond making us waste time we could be spending debating real issues, they're not ones I approve of.

At the same time, President Elect "That One"... er, I mean, Barack Hussein Obama II, understandably has a personal investment in who is replacing him in the Senate... not only who is replacing him, but who is selecting the person that is replacing him.  Blagojevich is far from an ideal source, if you'll allow me some understatement.

I gotta tell you, agreeing with those people and disagreeing with the President-Elect made me stop and reconsider my position, but in the end, I have come to the conclusion that my first instinct was correct.

Listen, folks: We have to stop wringing our hands on appointments.  From Caroline Kennedy to Roland Burris and any other vacancies, the American democratic system of government has a system for making sure that its lawmaking bodies retain the required staff to make important decisions, and, after this historic election and affirmation of the democratic process, can we please have a little faith in that system?

I get it.  You want the best proven people representing you.  You want people who are dynamic and who get the advantage of incumbancy to hold the seat in the next elections.  Sure, that's understandable.

The purpose of appointments is not, however, to give the people the candidate they want.  Sorry, but that's what democratic elections are for.  Appointments are made by executives whose judgement is trusted enough to get elected.  Appointees hold the position until such time as proper elections can be held. If the appointee wishes to hold onto the seat, the corresponding party can decide to select a primary challenger and vote for that person instead.  An appointee's main job is to be conscientious, have pretty good judgement, and, generally, be a party loyalist.  They don't need to be great speakers.  They don't need to be able to win elections.  They don't need to be the guy or gal the people would've chosen had it been directly up to them.  They chose the executive to make decisions like these so we're not dissolving parlaments and having elections at random times like other countries (I'm looking at you, Canada).

Are some appointments and hires made by executives in bad faith?  They sure are: President Obama will be rooting out Liberty University graduates from the government well into his second term, I'm guessing.  But this is how the system works: when someone starts abusing their power, they get removed properly (via election, term limits, or impeachment), and the next guy theoretically tries to fix things.

Like him or not, Blagojevich was elected twice.  Unless you can supply me some evidence that his election was due to fraud (which is sadly not out of the question in Chicago), we'll have to assume that he legitimately holds his position until such time as the is fairly removed from office.  

Do you plan on negating all the legislation he's signed since he started being corrupt?  Over 100 Illinois laws just went into effect as of the new year, and he signed off on them.  When, exactly, do we pinpoint the date and time when his judgement was null and void?  

Fitzgerald says that he released his findings when he did because he wanted to prevent Blagojevich from selling Obama's Senate seat.  Mission accomplished!  Blagojevich was, in fact, prevented from doing so: he appointed a party loyalist who appears to owe him no particular favors, and who is far more qualified than, say, Xenophon P. Wilfley was when he was selected to fill the term of William J. Stone in 1918, or, more recently, Dean Barkley, who was selected to fill the last few weeks of the term of my own state's beloved Senator, the late, great Paul Wellstone, in 2002.

You may argue that times have changed since the days of Xenophon P. Wilfley.  Indeed they have:  Wilfley was selected in the endgame of World War I; I suppose you could classify those as "trying times." Further, Alaska and Hawaii weren't even states yet, so ol' Xenophon only shared his power with 95 other Senators, compared to 99 that Burris will have to share with (assuming Franken and Coleman don't both show up for work when the next Congress opens).  In the interest of full disclosure, I use this example mostly because I like to say "Xenophon." Sue me.

In all seriousness, you get the point.  We need to have a functional Senate with a minimum of acrimony if we want to get past the Bush nightmare.  If we can all move past the fact that Joe Lieberman was sleeping with the enemy this election season, then we should also get past the issue of Blagojevich choosing a decent man despite a cloud of suspicion over intentions to sell the seat.  The sins of Rod Blagojevich are not imparted upon his appointees... unless they've partaken in the sins as well.  In this case, there's no evidence that I've seen to support Burris as being anything other than an old, eccentric Democratic loyalist who sees this as the best deal he's ever going to get from the party he has given a life of service to.  

All this talk about how he should've refused the offer rings hollow to me: how many of you would turn down a Senate seat if offered?  How about if holding national office were the thing you'd been striving for over a lifetime but couldn't quite obtain?  What if you were concerned that the seat may be given to someone who is corrupt and purchased it, but you know that you are not corrupt and you didn't buy it?  

What I'm saying is, we need to stop being such outrage addicts.  This election season was the most dramatic in modern memory, and there was a lot of stuff that we got outraged over, both legitimate and specious... I get that it will take some time for us to chill the hell out, but we need to do it.  Barack Obama needs a functional legislative branch that can work on tackling the huge challenges he faces right away, and whether an appointee can effectively and honestly work at implementing his agenda is a bigger concern to me than if an appointee was selected in the dying throes of a corrupt governor's career.

Approve Roland Burris and take the controversy off the table.  Then impeach the hell out of Blagojevich so we can get on to important business.  Democracy will sort the appointments out in time.  Have patience.

Thanks for your time.  Happy New Year.

Tags: Barack Obama, Caroline Kennedy, Rod Blagojevich, roland burris, Senate (all tags)



Shouldn't we be more worried about health care?

Obama has a big three months ahead of him as he uses his honeymoon to the best effect.  I don't want his political capital wasted on infighting.

by Dracomicron 2009-01-02 06:56AM | 0 recs
worried about health care?

1 less senator means it takes 59 to avoid a filibuster. see nate's post on this.

Burris is not needed as along as we get the others in check (Caroline and franken)

by YourConcernsAreNoted 2009-01-02 09:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Democrats: Quit your hand-wringing

99.9% of all governmental decisions are made with no democratic input whatsoever.

For example, everything Barack Obama does for the next four years will be an "executive decision."  The voters will not get to vote on any of those decisions.  Yet we're going to have opinions about those decisions, sometimes positive, sometimes negative.  If we feel strongly enough, we may very well seek to have our voices heard.

There is nothing magically different about appointments.  If you buy the argument that says, "legally it's up to the governor and not you, so don't worry about it until the next election," then you've bought into an argument for not worrying about ANYTHING until the next election.  It's a mindset which declares that we the people get our little accountability moment every two or four years, and in between we shouldn't do anything except watch and maybe take some notes.

I feel like the real argument here is "I don't care much about these appointments, so neither should you."  It's not especially persuasive.

by Steve M 2009-01-02 07:27AM | 0 recs
I care

Who says I don't care?  I do.  I don't want criminals or scumbags in the Senate.  Burris isn't a criminal or a scumbag, as far as I can tell.

I just care that all of this is within the normal operating procedure of our democracy and we should let it run its proper course.

by Dracomicron 2009-01-02 07:58AM | 0 recs
Re: I care

Fine then, replace "I don't care" with "I don't care as long as it's not someone who's a criminal or scumbag."  Actually, you don't have to replace anything at all, as the words I actually wrote - "I don't care much" - seem to be an accurate descriptor of your position.

Nevertheless, your stated reason for not caring (this isn't supposed to be a democratic decision, it's up to the governor) simply isn't logical, unless your policy is to STFU about anything and everything a politician does in between election days.

by Steve M 2009-01-02 08:10AM | 0 recs
This is weird

How is it not democratic?  The governor was elected.  The governor made the choice.  Both the governor and the appointee are subject to voter review in a few years, or impeachment if the appropriate lawfully elected lawmaking bodies decide it?

How does "allowing democracy to take its course" translate into "not caring?"

Since when is patience the same as apathy?

by Dracomicron 2009-01-02 08:14AM | 0 recs
Re: This is weird

You know the distinction you made in this very diary between democratic elections and appointments?

The purpose of appointments is not, however, to give the people the candidate they want.  Sorry, but that's what democratic elections are for.

That's the same distinction I'm making.  Are you changing your argument now?

You said above that it didn't matter to you who gets appointed, as long as they're not a criminal or scumbag.  Whether you think "apathy" or "patience" is a more appropriate word to describe that attitude makes no difference to me.

The point remains that there is no logic to your argument in this diary.  99.9% of government decisions are not subject to any kind of democratic approval other than at the next scheduled election, and yet we can and do share our opinions and try to affect those decisions all the time.

If you're interested in explaining your argument better, instead of just quibbling about the dictionary definitions of words, I'm all ears.

by Steve M 2009-01-02 08:29AM | 0 recs
For crying out loud

Democratic elections are a factor in a democracy.  

Are you suggesting we change our system to allow for instant gratification and dissolving parliaments and exploding diets and all that fun stuff?  Or should we give this system we've been working on for 232 years another shot?

I'm really baffled at what you want to have happen here.  We have about three options:

1) Follow the rule of law.  Make corrections as necessary within the bounds of the constitution.

  1. Waste lots of time and effort finagling the rule of law to get rid of people we don't like while Rome burns around us.
  2. Screw the law.  We don't like 'em so let's refuse to cooperate altogether.

Sounds like fun.

by Dracomicron 2009-01-02 08:43AM | 0 recs
Re: For crying out loud

I have in mind the third option, which is that if people have an opinion about something their elected officials have done or are about to do, they should speak up about it.

The only thing I'm disputing is this notion which says an appointment isn't a democratic election, so therefore everyone should pipe down until the next election rolls around.  99.9% of government decisions aren't democratic elections, but we don't expect everyone to pipe down in any other context.

by Steve M 2009-01-02 09:02AM | 0 recs
Re: For crying out loud

Elections are the normal path and occur on schedules. Off schedule, under defined conditions (differing among the States), offices vacated 'off-schedule' are temporarily filled.

It's not un-democratic, it is a pragmatic solution put into law by elected officials to handle unusual but not unexpected circumstances.


by QTG 2009-01-02 01:15PM | 0 recs
Re: For crying out loud

You seem to be responding to something I didn't post, so I'm just going to let it go.

by Steve M 2009-01-02 02:07PM | 0 recs
Re: For crying out loud

Very gracious of you. When you are governor, I expect a  call so I can pick the appointee.

by QTG 2009-01-02 03:26PM | 0 recs
I'm not sure

the argument is simply involvement versus apathy. You could make the case that there is a disturbing trend towards discarding the rule of law whenever it's convenient to political goals. I see the same trend in the "Obama should take over the government now!" posts.

I'm terribly disappointed in the Burris pick, personally I see it as a baldly cynical move that smacks of tokenism. Others may disagree. But being disappointed in it is irrelevant to it's legality.

If it's legal, what discussion can we really have about whether it should be done?

by Neef 2009-01-02 08:09AM | 0 recs
Re: I'm not sure

It's very clear to me from reading the various legal analyses posted around the web that it is far from indisputable that the Senate has no choice but to seat Burris.

That said, this diary isn't just about Burris, it's also about Caroline Kennedy and realistically about every other issue where the diarist doesn't have a strong opinion so he'd prefer people would likewise refrain from having strong opinions.  I mean, it's certainly legal to appoint Caroline Kennedy, so do you feel no one should bother saying anything about it?  Whatever Obama or the Democratic Congress does for the next four years, is it your intent not to offer any feedback, as long as it's legal?

Pursuing a political agenda often means that you have to be a squeaky wheel, whether or not an election is around the corner.  In my experience, if someone gets worked up about issues that I don't get worked up about, it's probably because they have a different agenda.  I find there's not much point in trying to get them to pursue my agenda instead.

by Steve M 2009-01-02 08:15AM | 0 recs
What's with the misrepresentation?

I like a lot of your writing, Steve, but I'm baffled at your characterization of this particular diary.

I believe in "squeaky wheel"-ism.  I wrote to my Senator four or five times over the last year on important issues.

I'm just asking for people to step back and ask themselves why they really are getting outraged about these appointments this year, when appointments have existed for 230 years without much to-do about them.

by Dracomicron 2009-01-02 08:25AM | 0 recs
Re: What's with the misrepresentation?

Considering a governor got voted out of office just two years ago in large part because people didn't like a Senate appointment he made, I don't think I can agree with your characterization of the history of appointments.

I have no idea whether there was much controversy over the appointment of Xenophon P. Wilfley in 1918.  I suspect you don't have any idea either, notwithstanding that you like to cite him as a point in favor of your argument.  But in any event, it seems clear to me that we have more of a participatory democracy today than we did in 1918, and I see that as a good thing.  As for Dean Barkley, I think everyone can see the difference between an appointment that lasts for a couple of years and one that lasts for a couple of weeks.

My point is, if you can say "don't get so worked up about these appointments, you'll have your chance to weigh in at the next election," why can't I say the exact same thing about whatever you've been writing your Senator on?  Why can't I say, "Look, there's a process in place, it's your Senator and not you who gets to vote on that bill, so if you don't like it you can register your disapproval at the next election."

by Steve M 2009-01-02 08:46AM | 0 recs
Re: What's with the misrepresentation?

Considering a governor got voted out of office just two years ago in large part because people didn't like a Senate appointment he made, I don't think I can agree with your characterization of the history of appointments.

I'm not familiar with the example.  Did they reverse the senate appointment, too?  Because otherwise that supports my position, not yours.

I have no idea whether there was much controversy over the appointment of Xenophon P. Wilfley in 1918.  I suspect you don't have any idea either, notwithstanding that you like to cite him as a point in favor of your argument.

The point about Xenophon P. Wilfley is that almost nobody remembers anything about him.  It couldn't have been that important in the long run if an internet search's largest contribution is a brief Wikipedia article.

The difference between writing to your senator on current issues and this is that one is serving an important function in a Democracy of telling a lawmaker what his or her constituency wants for an upcoming bill, and the other is suggesting that we should either spend lots of time and political capital fighting the appointment of a decent appointee of our own party or just throw out the rule of law altogether.

by Dracomicron 2009-01-02 09:00AM | 0 recs
Re: What's with the misrepresentation?

Do you want to make this diary JUST about Burris?  Because that's not what the diary says, and the whole "it's an appointment, not a democratic election" argument is the same thing you've been saying about Caroline Kennedy for some time now.

I thought you were arguing that "appointments have existed for 230 years without much to-do about them," so I mentioned a very recent counterexample.  Do you have a theory in mind as to why people are interested in talking about these particular appointments this year, aside from the fact that they seem interesting topics for conversation?

by Steve M 2009-01-02 09:08AM | 0 recs
I have a few theories...

...mostly revolving around how we've all become politics addicts over the course of the last year who need something to obsess over and how we Democrats tend to turn on ourselves in the odd event that we finally overcome the Republicans.

There's a lot more we should be investing our time and considerable writing skills towards; it's not censorship to suggest that, maybe, perhaps, we could be using our time more wisely.

by Dracomicron 2009-01-02 09:20AM | 0 recs
If Paterson

had appointed CK last week, then I would say arguing this week about whether she should be seated is counterproductive at best, and a tad anarchist at worst. Given that the decision is still being made, it's clearly a debatable issue. While I support it, I can't find fault with someone vehemently and vocally disagreeing.

The Senate not seating Burris worries me. Is this what it means to be in power, that we substitute subjective criteria for - if not a rock solid legal case - established precedent? Would a GOP-controlled Senate get to turn down Senatorial appointments, essentially arbitrarily? That is not a trivial question, and I am quite certain they are watching closely.

Your general point about opinions and dissent is well taken, and I understand it. I do think that informed dissent should account for legalities and realities.

by Neef 2009-01-02 08:33AM | 0 recs
Re: If Paterson

Well, you're sort of arguing the merits, whereas this diary seemed to be saying that no one should even bother arguing the merits either way.  So when I tell the diarist, "Look, I think it's normal for people to weigh in on these things," that shouldn't be taken as agreement on my part with the people who are all bent out of shape.

My personal opinion on Burris is that the Senate should conduct an investigation, and unless they find evidence of some corruption in the Burris appointment itself, they should seat him.  I think the fact that the governor has been credibly accused of shopping this Senate seat around gives the Senate good cause to ask that question.

I'm not so concerned about the precedent because I think it's clear to most people that this is not just an arbitrary decision.  Heck, Reid announced long ago that they wouldn't accept anyone appointed by Blagojevich - all 50 Democratic Senators signed his letter - and there wasn't any particular outcry like "hey wait, that goes completely against all recorded history!"  While I don't necessarily agree with the principle that an appointment by a governor who is suspected of shopping the seat around is automatically invalid, I don't think accepting that principle takes us all the way down a slippery slope where suddenly anyone can be excluded for no reason at all.

by Steve M 2009-01-02 08:56AM | 0 recs
Good gravy!

My personal opinion on Burris is that the Senate should conduct an investigation, and unless they find evidence of some corruption in the Burris appointment itself, they should seat him.  I think the fact that the governor has been credibly accused of shopping this Senate seat around gives the Senate good cause to ask that question.

What we have here is a failure to communicate.  I agree with what you wrote above completely; I'm not sure why we're fighting about it.

I don't think I said that we can't have an opinion on all this, did I?  I'm not for authorizing censorship.  

An investigation into the aquisition of the seat should go without saying, shouldn't it?  The entirety of my diary hinges on the fact that Burris didn't, in fact, buy the seat.

Was that somehow unclear?

by Dracomicron 2009-01-02 09:04AM | 0 recs
I think the inclusion of CK

muddled the point a bit. It did seem like you were saying people shouldn't criticize her appointment either.

by Neef 2009-01-02 09:08AM | 0 recs
Aw, heck

One throwaway line of the diary?  Really?  

I stand by it; it's indicative of our screwed up mindset that we've had two major appointee outrages in as many months over what amounts to nothing if there's no illegitimate hanky-panky going on.

by Dracomicron 2009-01-02 09:22AM | 0 recs
I think it was the title

"Quit your hand-wringing" is basically a way of telling people that they should not have strong opinions on the matter.

by LakersFan 2009-01-02 09:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Democrats: Quit your hand-wringing

Appointments are supposed to be about who will faithfully represent the voters' wishes by pursuing the same basic legislative agenda as the former seat-holder. That's why spouses often get appointments -- they tend to know how their spouse would have voted. Appointing someone ineffective, corrupt, umotivated, or who doesn't think they need to represent the people will undermine the party's ability to win the seat in the next election. This will only make it harder for our congressional leaders and Obama in the long run. Short-term thinking is a very bad strategy for solidifying political power.

by LakersFan 2009-01-02 07:51AM | 0 recs
Alright then...

Appointing someone ineffective, corrupt, umotivated, or who doesn't think they need to represent the people will undermine the party's ability to win the seat in the next election.

How does any of that apply to Burris?

by Dracomicron 2009-01-02 07:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Alright then...

It isn't about Burris. It's a general statement about any appointee. Appointments need to be made with the voters' wishes and the long-term strategy of the party in mind. It depends on if Burris fits that bill, or if he is tainted by his association with Blago. I don't know enough about him or Illinois voters to know if he would help or hurt in the long run.

by LakersFan 2009-01-02 08:06AM | 0 recs

Appointments need to be made with the voters' wishes and the long-term strategy of the party in mind.

This is your personal belief, and not a "need" of any legitimate type.

by Dracomicron 2009-01-02 08:15AM | 0 recs

Anyone who doesn't believe this doesn't really believe in democracy.

by LakersFan 2009-01-02 08:25AM | 0 recs
Also incorrect

You're acting ridiculously.

by Dracomicron 2009-01-02 08:27AM | 0 recs
I believe in democracy. Not sure about you.

There's nothing ridiculous about thinking that all government officials should represent the will of the people, regardless of how they attained their position.

by LakersFan 2009-01-02 08:43AM | 0 recs
You're not talking about that

You're not talking about the "will of the people," you're saying that it's not democratic if you don't game the system to the height of your ability by selecting an appointee that tilts the scale the most in your favor.

by Dracomicron 2009-01-02 08:45AM | 0 recs
Re: You're not talking about that

Those are one and the same. If someone faithfully represents the will of the people, this should translate into their party holding onto the seat in the next election.

by LakersFan 2009-01-02 09:22AM | 0 recs
Non-Fortune tellers need not apply

So what you're saying is that, unless someone can see what voters want in the future, they shouldn't ever make an appointment?

by Dracomicron 2009-01-02 10:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Non-Fortune tellers need not apply

No. I said that they should select an appointee based on the intention of the voters and the future electoral success of their party, which should be one and the same.

My question for you: Why do you spend all your time trying to twist people's words into things they never said?

by LakersFan 2009-01-02 10:43AM | 0 recs
Not twisting words

I'm trying to get you to see the logical fallacies in your argument, not twist your words.

What you think should be mandated in an appointment is illogical and, frankly, impossible.

by Dracomicron 2009-01-02 10:59AM | 0 recs
twisting words

Did I say "mandated"? Once again, twisting my words.

by LakersFan 2009-01-02 11:11AM | 0 recs
I'm not sure what to say here

Appointments need to be made with the voters' wishes and the long-term strategy of the party in mind.

You just said that appointments "need" to be done this way, and that anyone who doesn't believe this "doesn't believe in democracy."

That sounds like as close to a mandate as you could possibly ask for.

I'm not twisting your words, I'm trying to figure out what you're actually saying.

by Dracomicron 2009-01-02 11:30AM | 0 recs
Re: I'm not sure what to say here

When you talk about what people "should" do, it's called "ethics". And I absolutely demand ethical behavior from all elected officials. Anyone who believes in democracy should demand the same, otherwise why bother having a democracy at all?

by LakersFan 2009-01-02 11:34AM | 0 recs
Re: I'm not sure what to say here

The United States is a republic, not a democracy. Accurately defined, a democracy is a form of government in which the people decide policy matters directly--through town hall meetings or by voting on ballot initiatives and referendums.

A republic, on the other hand, is a system in which the people choose representatives who, in turn, make policy decisions on their behalf. Decision like who to appoint to vacated political offices.

The Framers of the Constitution were altogether fearful of pure democracy. MAdison wrote (in Federalist No. 10) that pure democracies "have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention..."

Sound familiar?

by fogiv 2009-01-02 08:53PM | 0 recs
Re: I'm not sure what to say here

The Founding Fathers believed in democracy and so do I. Who said anything about "pure democracy" and what does this have to do with anything?

by LakersFan 2009-01-02 10:18PM | 0 recs
Re: I'm not sure what to say here

You said that appointments "need" to be done this way, and that anyone who doesn't believe this "doesn't believe in democracy."

You're saying that appointment s should reflect the will of the people.  We're not set up to do that.  We'd have to be a pure democracy.

I remember (from experience) that you rather enjoy contentious circle talk, so I'll leave you to continue your innacurate hyberbole.

Happy Ney Year.

by fogiv 2009-01-03 07:40AM | 0 recs
Re: I'm not sure what to say here

The only hyperbole was yours with the "pure democracy". Appontments only "need" to be done a certain way unles we actually care about passing a legislative agenda and keeping seats in the hands of Democrats. Apparently, those things don't matter to you. They matter to me.

by LakersFan 2009-01-03 09:43PM | 0 recs
Re: I'm not sure what to say here

Yep.  There you go again.  

There's no hyperbole on my part.  Your position in the thread above is that officials need to adhere to the will of the people for appointments out of some nebulous love for "democracy" and for retention of political party power.  Your strident call for political appointments to be made in accordance with the voters' wishes would require a form of government known as a "pure democracy".

The Founding Fathers opposed pure democracy, and thus would oppose your stated position.  Our government is by design a representative democracy in the form of a Republic.  Here's how representative democracy works:

We use our judgement to elect people to represent us.  They make decisions for us based on their own judgement, not ours.  Regarding appointments to vacated offices, their judgment should, ideally, be a choice that is best suited to serve the needs of the relevant constituency, not to retain party muscle. A selection that strengthens party power and position over a another who might better serve the particular electorate would be an unethical choice.

...I absolutely demand ethical behavior from all elected officials. Anyone who believes in democracy should demand the same...

Okay, you demand ethical behavior (unless it's to strengthen the party).  Gotcha.  Also, your insinuations that those who correct or oppose your position don't "believe in democracy" actually is better than decent example of hyperbole.  Additionally, it's obnoxious.

by fogiv 2009-01-04 01:14AM | 0 recs
Re: I'm not sure what to say here

I know the difference between representative democracy and direct democracy. And I still hold my elected officials to standards. If you don't that's fine, but I'm not lowering my standards just because you don't believe in the openness that is requred for a functioning democracy.

And next time, save your fingers the trouble. I don't bother to read past the first couple of sentences when it's clearly just an argumentative diatribe.

by LakersFan 2009-01-04 03:42PM | 0 recs
Re: I'm not sure what to say here

Listen, I don't kill babies with shovels, but if you want to that's your prerogative.

I don't bother to read past the first couple of sentences when it's clearly just an argumentative diatribe.

Not surprising, since you obviously much prefer to beat on strawmen like your Ike and they're Tina.  Nevermind that you've contradicted yourself, and that your argument has been disemboweled.  You just keep on swinging.  After all, someone has to serve as a bad example.

by fogiv 2009-01-04 04:53PM | 0 recs
Re: I'm not sure what to say here

Seeing as you're continually trying to twist my words, it's pretty clear you're the one who is in love with the straw man. Give it a rest already. It's really boring and pointless.

by LakersFan 2009-01-05 08:33AM | 0 recs
Re: I'm not sure what to say here

Direct quotes are now twisted words?  I imagine you have difficulty ordeing a pizza without getting into an argument.

When I said large meatball, I meant small dinner salad.  You just lost your tip, Buster

by fogiv 2009-01-05 09:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Alright then...

I would note that some states (e.g. Wyoming) have laws providing that a replacement needs to come from the same party as the previous seatholder.  I think this is a good idea, but it's worth noting that many (probably most) states don't have any such law.  I don't know if this means that most states have consciously rejected the idea that the replacement ought to be ideologically aligned with the previous seatholder, or if the idea just never occurred to anyone.

by Steve M 2009-01-02 08:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Alright then...

Sure, but that's not the situation. If you're replacing a popular elected official, and you're in the same party as them, it is a disservice to the people and the party to appoint someone who is not ideologically aligned with the previous seatholder or who won't help the party retain the seat in the next election.

by LakersFan 2009-01-02 09:17AM | 0 recs
But, but...

if we don't wring our hands about this what will we commence in hand-wringing about?


Wait, you mean you want us to actually think positive thoughts about our system and positive thoughts about the people we elected (largely people who are on our side!) That is not the Democratic way...for in that direction lies sustainable success and we can't have that. No.

What we must do now is complain about every single thing a Democrat does in office. We must demoralize ourselves in these victorious times. Otherwise, we might win again...and then what would we have to complain about?

by JDF 2009-01-02 08:23AM | 0 recs
You have a point there

I suppose, with the collapse of Republicans on a national scale, if we don't screw ourselves over, nobody else is going to do it for us.

by Dracomicron 2009-01-02 08:28AM | 0 recs
Re: You have a point there

That's the spirit!  Let's go get 'em!

by fogiv 2009-01-02 08:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Democrats: Quit your hand-wringing

I'm with you, Dracomicron.  Burris is not a bad man--in fact he's got much cleaner hands than Durbin, Reid, and Obama if you want to get into that.

The Illinois legislature had the chance to schedule a special election.  The majority chose not to pursue it.  Blago, for some reason I don't understand, even gave them the chance to get it done.

Roland Burris certainly deserves the seat.  He's probably smarter and more dedicated than half the Senators who were elected.  This full-court press to stop the guy from getting seated seems a little crazed, especially since it's not likely to succeed anyway.

by SuperCameron 2009-01-02 08:26AM | 0 recs
Sorry ...
While I agree with your general point about appointments, I don't think it's applicable in the specific case with Blagojevich appointing Burris.  The fact that the corruption allegation is specifically about this particular opening obviously has to be seen as tainting the appointment, regardless of Burris' qualifications.
Kennedy - fine.  The new guy in Colorado - fine.  Burris - no.
by bottl4 2009-01-02 10:26AM | 0 recs
I don't see it

Of course they should investigate the appointment thoroughly, but what you're suggesting is absurd.

The scandal gives us reason to apply higher scrutiny to the pick, but doesn't give us reason to refuse a legitimate pick.

If we start punishing people for doing the right thing (even if it's for the wrong reasons), then we're in serious trouble as a society.

by Dracomicron 2009-01-02 10:48AM | 0 recs
Re: I don't see it
No pick Blagojevich made could possibly be seen as legitimate.  The "right thing" for Blago to do was easy:  don't make the pick.  He's going to be impeached next week and will almost certainly be out of office within a couple of months.
If the accusation had been about anything else, I could see your line of argument holding water, but he was selling <u>this pick.</u>
by bottl4 2009-01-02 11:25AM | 0 recs
There are levels here

Your view is that the right thing would've been to graciously say "shucks you got me" and step aside; others might think that he should make a choice that isn't tainted in his view.

The corrupt governor appointing the nice eccentric old man would be considered part of a happy ending if it were in a comedy.  While I understand that movies aren't reality for good reason, we would do well to understand that, to Blagojevich, this might be the one and only "right" thing to do.  In this case, it's not so bad.

by Dracomicron 2009-01-02 11:35AM | 0 recs
Re: There are levels here

No, I've offered no opinion as to whether he should step aside or not.  I'm quite sure the Illinois legislature will take care of that before too long.  My opinion was that he should not have made the pick for Senator.
I'm sure you're right that to Blago, he did the right thing.  I don't give a damn what he thinks though.  If Burris is seated, every single media story mentioning him for his entire tenure will point him out as appointed by the corrupt gov.  "It's not so bad" is pretty weak sauce as a defense.  Aren't we supposed to be hoping for a higher standard out of our politicians?
The very fact that you're saying it's not so bad shows you're acknowledging it looks like he's doing something wrong, just not so wrong that it's worth expending a lot of political capital on.

by bottl4 2009-01-02 12:13PM | 0 recs
Let's be real here.

The very fact that you're saying it's not so bad shows you're acknowledging it looks like he's doing something wrong, just not so wrong that it's worth expending a lot of political capital on.

Is it?

by Dracomicron 2009-01-02 12:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Let's be real here.

I think not expending it now will come back to haunt us in 2010, and not just in the Illinois seat.

by bottl4 2009-01-02 12:44PM | 0 recs

Let's repeal the 100 or so bills he signed into law that just became active yesterday, too.  There's a budget?  It has the governor's name on it, so... scrap it.

Making a big deal about this is what's going to hurt us.  Accepting and moving on assures that everyone except right-wing media hacks will have forgotten it by March.

by Dracomicron 2009-01-02 01:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Alright

That's right, inflate my position to look like I'm calling for something unreasonable.  Good tactic.

 He was caught on tape looking to sell this very Senate appointment.  Explain to me how it's unreasonable that a minimum expectation is that he no longer involve himself directly with the appointment?

The Democratic senators caving now and seating Burris will not make this go away.  This is the most blatant obvious case of corruption that there's been in years and the media are going to play this up every chance they get.  It is a big deal.  And it's a Democrat who's done it.  That sucks but saying "Oh well, it's not that bad" is exactly what Republicans have been doing with their own for the last eight years.  It was wrong then and it's wrong now.

by bottl4 2009-01-02 06:16PM | 0 recs
Re: There are levels here

I'm compltely with you bott, although I do think he should've stepped aside if he in fact did care at all about the people of Illinois. Democrats in Illinois did not want to have a special election because the corruption of our democratic governor was so bad and it has been on the news 24/7 in Chicago, that we could have lost the seat of the President elect to a Republican, probably Mark Kirk. I talked to folks who spoke with Pat Quinn privately and he shared the same concern.

This governor is so tainted and so bad. This is exactly what the Republicans need to turn around their string of bad luck. If we embrace Blago's pick (I don't even say Burris because the man is irrelevant as far as public opinion is concerned) with open arms, we have taken that corruption upon ourselves. We need to stand up against this kind of behavior and corruption. You don't reward it by letting a crooked governor appoint the seat he was trying to sell just weeks ago, and patting him on the head cause it was such a good pick- not dirty at all (we think)! All democrats should stand up against corruption because otherwise I can guarantee you this will be used against the Senate dems and probably even Obama in the next election.

I want also want a higher standard of politicians. Obama got elected in large part because he promised to clean up Washington and change it. This diary is advocating doing nothing in the face of one of the worst cases of corruption in history.

by cecilybecily 2009-01-02 12:42PM | 0 recs
Re: There are levels here

Agreed and mojo'd.

by bottl4 2009-01-02 12:47PM | 0 recs
Dirty lies

This diary is advocating doing nothing in the face of one of the worst cases of corruption in history.

Point out where I said that we should "do nothing," please.

For the record, I think we should impeach the hell out of Blagojevich.  That's not "doing nothing."

I'm no constitutional expert, but it might turn out that doing something about a legal and qualified appointment would, in fact, be the corrupt choice.

There's a hell of a lot of hyperbole going on here, so if that's what you understand, let me lay some on you: In the end, preserving democracy is more important than any one person or appointment.  If it takes Senator Burris to save the foundation of our democratic form of government, then I'll be happy to see him be confirmed.

by Dracomicron 2009-01-02 01:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Dirty lies

You said we ought to move past this particular issue. To me, that's doing nothing.

I agree with you about preserving democracy. I think standing against corruption is a way to do this.

And I also see your point about the foggy issues of legality on this. You're absolutely right that legally, Blago is still the governor. Legally, he can seat someone. But I think we can also, legally, stand against this appointment by a crooked governor who's in the process of being impeached for his crookedness by: tying this up in courts if need be, waiting for him to be impeached, getting Pat Quinn sworn in, making a hell of a statement against corruption, and having someone appointed who will not taint the Senate.

Honestly, I understand your sentiments and I see what you are saying. But I guess I still have a lot of "hyperbolic" idealism left over from this election about cleaning up dirty government and standing against corruption. And it's an especially sore spot being as I'm from Chicago and the fact that it's Obama's seat.

And I just plum disagree with you that this is no big deal and will be forgotten come March. I think it's a big deal (that affidavit is mind blowing) and the media will do what it does best by blowing it up way bigger than it even already is, and democrats will be hurt by it. Since I believe it won't be forgotten, I'd rather be remembered as the party of Obama- the party that doesn't stand by when something really bad is happening. Cause we've already done that way too many times.

by cecilybecily 2009-01-02 01:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Dirty lies

What if Blagojevich had appointed himself to the Senate?  Would you still argue that they need to seat him in order to save the foundation of our democratic form of government?

I find your arguments kind of weird, in that you'll be arguing one minute that this issue isn't something people should be getting worked up over, and the next minute that if we do the wrong thing it spells doom for our democracy and our society.  I think this kind of over-the-top rhetoric doesn't help make any sort of case.

by Steve M 2009-01-02 02:10PM | 0 recs
that'd be different, and you know it

He'd have just sold the seat (which belongs to the people of Illinois) to himself (at a considerable discount).

Anyway, I was arguing that it wasn't a big deal until it became obvious that nothing but hyperbole was getting through.  That's where the disconnect is.

by Dracomicron 2009-01-03 06:00AM | 0 recs
Re: that'd be different, and you know it

I'm pretty sure Steve's point is that Blagojevich appointing himself would have been just as "legal" as having appointed Burris.  

by bottl4 2009-01-03 08:20AM | 0 recs
But it wouldn't be

He is on tape implying that he could take it for himself as a "parachute" for if things go sour with his current job, assuming I remember correctly.  

That can't be legal.

Also didn't we go over this with Palin?  Some states don't allow you to appoint yourself, you have to get your Lt. Gov. to do it.  That's a bit of a conspiracy, too.

by Dracomicron 2009-01-03 08:31AM | 0 recs
One other aspect we might consider...

I can see what both sides are saying here, and I won't rehash all that...

But wouldn't it look REALLY bad at this point if 50 Democratic Senators who signed a statement saying they wouldn't seat a Blago appointment suddenly decided to seat one anyway because he's a decent guy? If any Democratic Senators want to maintain any credibility, I think they have to fight seating Burris look completely pusillanimous.

by RecoveringRepublican 2009-01-03 07:29AM | 0 recs

I look at these sorts of things about what they say about the diarist and Democrats. Many Democrats like many Republicans have a problem with the concept of democracy. I would add many Americans too, but that's based on instinct about what I am reading and hearing rather than any datum that quantifies it.

Democracy is about accountability. I know many people think that's about voting. But that's just a small part of it. The biggest part is really accountability, and voting is one mechanism, not the only one, by which accountability happens.

I think on the gay rights issues I am becoming a little more clear why you and others write the way you do. You don't understand democracy or why it matters.

by bruh3 2009-01-03 09:31AM | 0 recs


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