December 31st, 2008
07:29 PM ET
5 years ago

Is Blagojevich playing a game of racial 'chicken'?

Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced Roland Burris as his pick for Illinois' open Senate seat on Tuesday.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced Roland Burris as his pick for Illinois' open Senate seat on Tuesday.

(CNN) - Gov. Rod Blagojevich's pick of a prominent African-American to succeed Barack Obama in the Senate has led to suggestions that the move is calculated, but the governor says he's just doing his job.

Blagojevich on Tuesday announced he'd appointed former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to replace Obama in the Senate, ignoring warnings from Senate Democrats who say they will block anyone he appoints.

Obama said Tuesday that he agrees with the Senate Democrats' decision to block an appointment by Blagojevich, but it's unclear if the Senate has the right to do so.

FBI agents arrested the governor on December 9 after federal prosecutors alleged, among other things, that he had tried to sell Obama's former Senate seat. Blagojevich denies wrongdoing and has ignored calls to resign.

Blagojevich's announcement left observers asking - whether the governor was playing a game of racial "chicken," daring Senate Democrats to snub a respected African-American.

Conservative radio host Larry Elder said race was clearly a part of Blagojevich's plan.

"What he has done is this: He's chosen a black person and dared the Democratic Senate not to seat him because there would then be no black senators in the Senate whatsoever.

"I'm not saying that the former attorney general isn't a man of integrity and wouldn't otherwise, in his own right, be able to serve competently as a senator.

"But you don't have to be a cynic to understand that race was part of Blagojevich was doing right here," he said.

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soundoff (81 Responses)
  1. Jeff

    Is Blagojevich playing a game of racial 'chicken'?

    When did CNN hire Mr. Obvious away from The Bob & Tom Show?

    December 31, 2008 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  2. VAL

    The governor of his future jail cell is out of his mind! He needs to be stopped, why would he appoint someone to the senate knowing well that that person wouldn't be accepted due to his charges? He did it to spit back at the people trying to send him to jail and to all of the people that want to see him gone! He appointed an african-american because he knows that it would create fighting amongst democrats and minorities, after all who would want to see the only african-american senator get unseated or not seated at all! As a minority myself I think it is distgusting that Prisoner Blago would do this! I really hate to see a good candidate for the senate seat like Burris get tainted because of Blago but I think that under the circumstances Burris should say that he will not accept the appointment and would wait to get elected by the people of Illinois in a vote. THAT is the only way to ensure the senate seat will not be tainted. If Burris and Blago truly care about the people of Illinois and the people they always talk about serving then they should do this service to them!

    December 31, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  3. D.Tin

    He was going to appoint an african american anyway, so yes now he is playing a game of dare. And the Democrats are only doing much ado about nothing, they will not block Burris. All the noise is just a show. Anyways the whole thing has been blown way out of proportion because it's president-elect Obama's vacant seat. Blagojevich did what many other politicians have done, he got caught because he was targeted for investigation.

    December 31, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  4. di

    why is it that in the entire us senate you have hispanics,whites but not even a single black.... is this fair folks please may be i,m wrong but someone see with me its not right.

    December 31, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  5. Franky

    "What he has done is this: He's chosen a black person and dared the Democratic Senate not to seat him because there would then be no black senators in the Senate whatsoever.

    "I'm not saying that the former attorney general isn't a man of integrity and wouldn't otherwise, in his own right, be able to serve competently as a senator.

    "But you don't have to be a cynic to understand that race was part of Blagojevich was doing right here," he said."

    And also, Burris is no stranger in politics, his history is well documented as an African-American, he's played the game. And not only I think our Gov should be ashamed to not only questioned his decision(because let's face it, he wants props for picking someone pretty good), but also to "judge" him that my boy was an African-American in the Senate and I guess you could say our Gov is "trying" but in my opinion, trying too hard...

    And let's face it, Burris is appearing in networks. Our Gov really, really wanted props for picking someone of good stature and of course, replacing my boy...our Gov is not stupid that I can tell you.

    December 31, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  6. buddhawest

    I was struck by the article outlining Mr. Burris' continuing efforts to immortalize his personal history on his eventual mausoleum ... having reviewed his "trailblazer" narrative, it seems to me he is just a tad too arrogant to promote the principle of fairness vs. a opportunistic attempt at self-interest.

    December 31, 2008 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  7. TW, oregon

    No he's not playing chicken. Blagojevich is the legal governer of Illinois and has the constitutional authority to name a replacement Senator. According to the law, his nomination is correct and appropriate.

    If we believe in the rule of the law, we must support the appointee unless it can be shown that he personally is unfit (under the law) to serve Illinois in the US Senate.

    December 31, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  8. Reality

    Uuummmmmmmmmmmmmmm ... YES he is !!!

    December 31, 2008 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  9. A Sad Situation

    Yes...they all played the race card!!!

    But the sad part is that Mr. Burris fell for it and now I personally have to question his character and integrety. As a person of color I am very ashamed of Mr. Burris and more so of Mr. Rush. Wrong is wrong and I do not care what color you are. No one should support this mess and Rush should not have played the race card. I hope he does not expect other African Americans to support this because I and others will not support this fiasco. That press conference looked like a Saturday Night Live skit . What a shame!

    December 31, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  10. fedupinchicago

    He absolutely pulled the race card on this one. as an african-american i'm very offended. and the fact that bobby rush actually got up and said he needs to be appointed b/c he's black was troubling, saying not to lynch burris. are you kidding me???

    the entire political establishment in Illinois (minus durbin and a few others) needs to be completely overhauled.

    December 31, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  11. Thurman

    You know what, as a black man I am truely upset at the way Burris let himself get set out and played like that by Blagojevich. He put his head in the noose with his eyes wide open and to me , thats stupidity
    in its highest form. I would'nt condone a seat at the dinner table let alone a seat in the senate for that bum.

    December 31, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  12. Apples for sale

    Seems Blago wants to go the way of Mike Connell,the computor expert.He may find himself short of the runway like poor Mike did the day before he was to testify how he may have rigged the 2000 and 2004 elections for Carl Rove.

    December 31, 2008 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  13. Patsy Madison, TN

    Regardless of what the Governor might have done, he has the right to name Obama's replacement. The democrats might as well accept the replacement and start taking care of the nation's business. We do not need another court fight. The appointment is just for two years, and we have more important fights than this one.

    December 31, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  14. Franky

    "The question still unanswered: How did Obama NOT become involved with Blagojevich in the circles of Illinois Corrupt Politics?"

    Easy, I looked at the payroll, and I was like, "Ohh, he's clean." LOL!!

    December 31, 2008 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  15. Patsy Madison, TN

    All i can say is "good luck. "

    December 31, 2008 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  16. Palin Fan

    CNN playing the racial card again!

    December 31, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  17. mary, colorado springs

    It is obvious Blagojevich is muddying the waters as much as he can to confuse a political bucket of worms. He's decided that being Peck's bad boy in the political arena is his farewell goal. He's going to be unseated one way or the other, and he plans to go out swinging. As far as I'm concerned, his bubble is a way past center, and he needs to get out of the mix altogether, either voluntarily or mandatorily. NOW!!

    December 31, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  18. virginia for obama

    RIGHT ON! KEVIN. You said a mouth full.

    December 31, 2008 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  19. rickymo

    Why is this man not in jail? Isn't there even a basic law about bad hair.

    December 31, 2008 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  20. Rick

    Yep, sure enough, once again another Democrate plays the race card in a political way to please Obama and the rest of the cronnies which will eventually ruin this great country by their shameless race playing. It is a shame that the Dems keep the race playing alive by the games. Next time around hopefully we will vote then all out.

    December 31, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  21. texasbob

    You know, I've worked in the civil rights struggle for more than 40 years, and I cannot understand what Mr. Burris could possibly be thinking. He must know that the governor is using him for his own purposes and that his appointment is a blatant racially motivated move to keep his own job, but Mr Burris doesn't seem to care. That befuddles me. I have resisted any idea that Mr Burris has been "bought off" by the governor; he is far too important an icon in Illinois politics for that.But why – why – would he try to defend the governor and take control of a seat when EVERYONE (except, of course, the governor) has rejected the appointment by the governor. I cannot believe, of such a presumably honorable man, that he would resort to the courts to claim a seat that NO ONE ELSE (besides himself and the governor) beslive he shoudl have. Where did Mr Harris lose sight of what true democracy is all about? I cry tonight for Mr Burris, for Illinois and for all who believe in justice, which, I fear, is now escaping Mr. Burris.

    December 31, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  22. Janice

    Of course is playing a game of racial 'chicken'. And we're feeding into it. Why did Mr. Roland Burris accept this appointment? Well, in my opinion, regardless of his qualifications I can only conclude that he's an opportunist and should be ashamed. Give me a break...it is obvious he could not win in an election and therefore sucumbed to the defiant Governor Blagojevich. Mr Burris is now the news and the governor gets a break from the media. WHY MR. BURRIS? WHY?

    December 31, 2008 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  23. Ellie May Clampet

    Blago is a complete sleaze ball...and how dare he tarnish Obama's great moment in history. He must be arrogant as hell....he should have resigned immediately...what an azz wipe

    December 31, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  24. ROC

    Burris may be an honorable man but is this guy seriously stupid?

    He's totally being played by Blagojevich.

    December 31, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  25. Godluvr

    'Racial Chicken?' You people have a name for everything. What's it called when you're riding on the subway, and change seats when a black/white person who appears to be intoxicated sits next to you?

    December 31, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
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