Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

For Harry Reid, a George Wallace Moment

Loathsome as he is, Rod Blagojevich, in his shrewd maneuvering to escape Patrick Fitzgerald's clutches, has put Harry Reid in a position reminiscent of the Alabama governor 45 years ago illegally standing in a doorway to block African-American students from entering.

When the Senate reconvenes Tuesday, if Blagojevich's appointee Roland Burris is there to claim his seat, the legal basis for denying him is shaky and the political consequences of a confrontation extremely unappealing in the new no-drama era of an Obama administration.

One possible scenario that could appeal to the Illinois governor and Fox News is to have Blagojevich himself accompany Burris into the building, just as federal officials brushed aside George Wallace to escort two African-American students into a University of Alabama building in 1963.

Blagojevich has been trying to blackmail national Democrats with the prospect of just such a symbolic confrontation by narrowing his choice to a black candidate, offering the position to Burris after being turned down by Rep. Danny K. Davis, as Lynn Sweet reports in the Chicago Sun-Times.

In a mausoleum of Chicago's Oak Woods Cemetery, Burris, 71, under the seal of the state of Illinois and the words "Trail Blazer," has chiseled his many firsts in granite, including being the state's first African-American attorney general and the state's first African-American comptroller.

Whether or not he gets to add US Senator to the list is an open question, but meanwhile his sponsor is doing his best to bury Harry Reid and the Democratic Party in his name.

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