Today the Chicago Tribune editorial page--the same editorial page Illinois Governor Blagojevich is accused of trying to suppress--provided a useful history lesson.
Although it seems like a lifetime ago, it was only last spring that Governor Blagojevich enjoyed enough support in the Illinois Senate to defeat a House-sponsored recall bill. Had it passed, we probably would be voting right now to remove him. Back then, Emil Jones was Senate President and Rod's buddy. The Trib today lists all the Senators who defeated one recall proposal and kept another one from coming to a vote.
One of those faithfully lined up behind Jones back then was my own state Senator, representing the 7th District, Heather Steans. She was even trotted out at the time to carry the governor's water on Chicago Tonight and elsewhere, ironically arguing against the recall but for a measure that would reform (i.e., increase) the state's income tax.
It was a sorry spectacle, as I told her in a letter I shared with you blog readers here.
The surprise retirement of Jones back in August may have been the beginning of the end for Blago. Or maybe it was the Rezko conviction in June. The feds were clearly getting close, the guys behind the guys were cutting their losses, and the front men and women were scrambling for cover. It's hard for somebody like Steans, used to following orders, to know whose orders to follow when everything is falling apart. Her most recent constituent report described at length, but bloodlessly, the impeachment process and how the all-important U. S. Senate seat at the center of it all might be filled. It was distributed on December 17, before the Burris appointment. Here is the closest she came to taking a position or even expressing an opinion about any of it, but even with all of her careful weasel-wording, she got it so very wrong.
Harry Reid, the majority leader of the Senate, has indicated he will not seat anyone who the Governor appoints, and the Governor's legal defense attorney has stated that the Governor will not act to fill this seat. Thus the threat of the Governor trying to fill this vacancy no longer exists. We have some time over the holidays to see if the Governor resigns or steps aside before the U.S. Senate reconvenes in the new year. There is no perfect solution for filling the vacant Senate seat. I continue to prefer conducting a special election despite its downsides, but there is no consensus on this in Springfield.
As the citizens of Illinois pour their outrage onto Rod Blagojevich, we should not forget his many enablers, including what the Tribune today called "The Blagojevich 26."
Voters have notoriously short memories so I won't speak for anyone but myself. I won't forget you, Senator Steans. I won't forget how you got your seat, nor what you did with it, no matter how many food drives for the needy you promote.