Roundtable on Blagojevich's Senate Appointment

Roundtable on Blagojevich's Senate Appointment

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume - December 30, 2008


ROD BLAGOJEVICH, (D) ILLINOIS GOVERNOR: So I'm here today to announce that I am appointing Roland Burris as the next United States senator from Illinois.

Please don't allow the allegations against me to taint this good and honest man.

PAT QUINN, (D) ILLINOIS LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: The governor is going to be impeached and convicted. He, himself, said he would not make an appointment to the United States Senate. He has contradicted himself.

I think the people of Illinois do not want him in any way, shape, or form to make an appointment to anything. He is not fit to serve.


ANGLE: Well, words from Governor Blagojevich and his lieutenant governor, who I think it's fair to say, holds his boss in fairly low esteem.

Now some analytical observations from Bill Sammon, Fox News Washington deputy managing editor, Jeff Birnbaum, managing editor digital for "The Washington Times," and the FOX News contributor and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer, also a FOX News contributor.

The inimitable governor of Illinois never ceases to amaze us, and I hardly know where to begin on all this. I suppose the first point, Charles, would be Blagojevich cannot be accused of not having enormous chutzpah in coming out and doing what everyone has said you cannot and should not do.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Amazed and amused. I have to confess, I love this guy. It's been a tough year, and this guy is pure entertainment, and he surprises every time.

Look, he may be a sleazy, slimy, lowlife lizard, and I say that with the utmost respect, but he sure knows how to put on a show. And what I love about the show he put on is the surprise witness. It was Perry Mason meets O.J. trial.

You get Bobby Rush, African-American congressman, who, incidentally, eight years ago had defeated Barack Obama in a race for the House seat, a lovely connection there. Rush comes up on the stage and he pulls a Johnnie Cochran in which he turns an issue, which up until now had no connection with race, into an entirely racial issue.

It was as low of pulling that card out of the deck as I have ever seen, and you almost have to admire it for, exactly as you said, it's chutzpah.

Rush talked about the 99 white senators rejecting the only perspective African-American, warning that it would be seen and felt nationally.

Now, I think the reason it's not going to work -- there are a lot of reasons, but Obama himself said a few minutes later, in a statement, that he supported the Senate in rejecting anybody the governor had appointed. It defuses that.

But you have to admire the audacity of this governor's hope.

ANGLE: And, gentlemen, he is appointing Roland Burris, who is a former assistant state attorney general and an African-American. One of the things that Charles was referring to was a statement by Rush in which he says "I will ask you not to hang and lynch the appointee as you try to castigate the appointer."

This is quite a show today.

JEFF BIRNBAUM, COLUMNIST, "THE WASHINGTON TIMES": It's great. But I think it's even more than merely spectacle. There is real serious political liability here, especially for the Democrats. I really do think there is likely to be a vote to deny Burris the Senate seat, and Democrats will unite, and many Republicans will vote with him. But --

ANGLE: You are referring that the Senate has made clear they will not accept anyone Blagojevich appoints?

BIRNBAUM: Right. But just think of the precedent that sets. I think the Supreme Court very soon thereafter will reverse the Senate vote and say that you simply cannot turn down a duly appointed member of the Senate by a sitting governor just because you think the governor is corrupt.

ANGLE: Let me raise the statement that you are referring to from Senator Harry Reid, who is the Democratic leader in the Senate, who said today that "Anyone appointed by Governor Blagojevich cannot be an effective representative of the people of Illinois, and, as we have said, will not be seated by the democratic caucus."

Now, there is some question as to whether or not the Senate can do this, but they clearly intend to do it anyway.

BIRNBAUM: They're going to do it, and the Supreme Court is, I think, this is likely to be a very important case that will reverse it. And this will be a huge political blot for the new incoming Democratic president.

ANGLE: Bill?

BILL SAMMON, WASHINGTON DEPUTY MANAGING EDITOR, FOX NEWS: I think Blagojevich, as crazy as this sounds, will prevail on both legal grounds and political grounds. This guy is crazy like a fox.

On legal grounds, the constitution only talks about blocking a senator if there is something wrong with the election, like it was a tainted election, or if the person himself being appointed had some sort of scandal. Neither of those cases apply here.

This guy -- the cloud is over Blagojevich, not over Burris. And it was an appointment, not an election. So I don't think there are constitutional grounds for blocking him.

Politically it's even better for Blagojevich. One, he puts Harry Reid in the position of blocking the only black from the Senate. Two, this has to be killing Harry Reid, because this would be a Democrat. He could now have a Democrat in that seat. If this goes to an election, which this might, there is a chance a Republican could get in there.

And, finally, this guy has pretty much agreed to be a caretaker. He is 71 years old. He will be in there two years. He won't run again in 2010. He solves a lot of political problems for the Democrats, and the Democrats won't let him in.

ANGLE: Except for the Blagojevich problem.

SAMMON: Except for the Blagojevich problem, yes.

ANGLE: Now, one of the interesting things here was that a lot of people were asking why would Burris even do this? Just a few seconds left.

KRAUTHAMMER: You're 72 and you're done playing golf all the time. You want to do something. He has reached for the brass ring all his life, and he failed. A couple years in the Senate, why not?

BIRNBAUM: He's 71, and he's a registered federal lobbyist. And that's what all federal lobbyists want to do. They want to be a member of the Senate.

ANGLE: Just what President-elect Obama wanted, a lobbyist to take his position in the Senate.

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