And obviously, president-elect Obama doesn’t have a corner on it. Audacity, that is.

It’s the legacy of hometown politics in Chicago, and by extension, Illinois. It’s about to descend on Washington, as if they can get any more outrageous.

As U.S. Senate leadership developed an elaborate set of
contingency plans Wednesday to keep Roland Burris from taking over
President-elect Barack Obama’s seat, the disputed appointee promised
not to “create a scene” when the Senate convenes next week.

If Burris shows up Tuesday to claim the seat given to him by
disgraced Gov. Rod Blagojevich, the outcomes range from a denial of
entry to a limbo where he can hire staff but not vote.

Here in Chicago, it’s just beyond politics as usual. But while the
rest of the country celebrates the New Year, politicians here and in
Washington are making all sorts of contingency plans, with Governor
Blagojevich still on the loose (the Illinois General Assembly’s fault),
and Roland Burris acting erratically.

On Wednesday, Burris’ lawyers took the first legal
action in what could be a prolonged court fight, seeking to force
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White to certify Blagojevich’s
paperwork making the appointment.

White has dodged attempts to comply with this certification process.
For those of you outside Chicago or Illinois, Secretary of State Jesse
White is black. Politicians like former Black Panther Bobby Rush insist
that Obama’s senate seat go to a black man, just because he is
succeeding a black man. Which injects race back into politics after
Obama succeeded in all but removing it.

Futhermore…

To appreciate irony on this scale, it was only a few weeks ago that
Burris was saying it would be “reprehensible” for Blagojevich to name
anyone to Obama’s senate seat after his corruption charges. Something
has changed. Welcome to Chicago style politics.

Should Burris appear in Washington without that
certification, armed police officers stand ready to bar him from the
Senate floor, said a Democratic official briefed on Senate leaders’
plans.

That’s one plan, and it’s pretty dramatic. But they’re planning for
all possibilities. And with Blagojevich, it could be anything.

Leadership also is considering the possibility of
Blagojevich appearing in person to escort Burris. Ironically, the
scandal-plagued governor would be allowed onto the Senate floor,
because sitting governors are allowed floor privileges, while Burris
would not without certification. Blagojevich spokesman Lucio Guerrero
said the governor had not decided whether he will appear in Washington
next week with Burris.

Anything could happen at this point.

Senate leaders have expressed no willingness to
negotiate and have vowed to bar anyone appointed by Blagojevich because
of his alleged attempt to sell Obama’s seat.

Interesting side note…

When Republican politicians are caught in a scandal, all we hear in
the mainstream media is that “REPUBLICAN governor/senator/congressman”
says whatever the latest response is to the scandal. In this case,
we’re hearing precious little of the Democrat branding. To say that
Obama does not need this just before his inauguration is an audacious
underestimation of your intelligence. So I won’t say it.

Read this Trib article to get a sense of how ridiculous this has
become, even to those of us locally who have known Chicago and Illinois
politics well for decades.

Here’s a matter of minor annoyance: Those highly paid, big name news
anchors and analysts refer solemnly to Illinois’ ‘pay for play’ scheme
under Blagojevich. Respectfully, we’d like them to get it straight.

Former governor George Ryan is serving time for corruption in the
‘license for bribes’ scandal. Current governor Rod Blagojevich is
charged with corruption in the ‘pay to play’ scandal. It may be
semantics for some. But for us beleaguered citizens of Illinois, it’s a
matter of respect for our integrity that you get straight what we’re
dealing with. After all, we just produced the next president of the
United States.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....