So, Governor Rod Blagojevich just held a press conference where he gamely put forward Roland Burris as his appointment for the vacant Illinois Senate seat. It pretty much wins the award for the Most Nutlog Press Conference of 2008. And no poetry was read! Instead, there was utter, comical chaos, as Blagojevich gazed around like a deer in the headlights and Burris attempted to glibly sidestep questions over whether he'd ever be actually seated. Then, there were special guests, who said even crazier things.
The whole thing began with Blagojevich taking the stage, wishing everyone Feliz Navidad and insisting that he had to follow the law -- you know, starting today -- and make an appointment. Burris, he insisted, had an "integrity that had never been questioned." Left unsaid: the fact that Burris "stepped up his efforts to win the governor's support" only after Blagojevich ran into legal troubles.
"Please do not allow the allegations against me to taint this good man," Blagojevich said, futilely, as reporters peppered him with questions over contracts and contributions. On whether or not Burris believed Blagojevich should step down, the appointee had no comment.
"I've enjoyed the limelight the past couple of days," Blagojevich quipped. But he sure didn't seem to enjoy it. Blagojevich and Burris stood on the stage, goggle-eyed, weaving back and forth, with no real indication that either of them knew whether to answer any questions or not. I felt terrible for Chicago Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet, stuck doing post-game in MSNBC's studio. This was like Woodstock for the Chicago press.
Then, things got even weirder! Congressman Bobby Rush soon drifted up to the dais, taking his place behind the microphone to tell the assembled, "Thank God for this appointment by Governor Blagojevich...my prayers have been answered." He went on to remind the reporters that there were not, at the moment, any African-American members of the Senate, and that there needed to be more, and I guess Rod Blagojevich should be allowed to appoint them all. Then he asked everyone to not "hang or lynch" Burris, in case the press hadn't gotten the point, which was YES WE ARE PLAYING THE RACE CARD.
Truly sublime, watching this Illinois political machine in action!