Friday, January 9, 2009

Politics and Poetry: Blagojevich, Tennyson, Tibbles, and Burris

Rod Blagojevich was impeached today by the Illinois House - no surprise - and in his press conference just ended, quoted Alfred North Tennyson -

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

-and strode off the stage, without answering questions.

Over on MSNBC, Nora O'Donnell was interviewing a Kevin Tibbles, an NBC correspondent in their Chicago bureau, who noted that Blago had "ripped off" Tennyson. I think we can immediately clear Blago of at least that one charge: Blagojevich clearly said the poem was written by Tennyson. That's proper attribution, not a "rip off" or theft of Tennyson's words.

As for the other charges, as I've been saying all along, I don't know whether Blago is guilty or not, but that's for a jury to decide, not a Prosecutor. And one of the fundamental planks of our freedom from government abuse is that we do not let prosecutors take the place of juries.

Another is that a sitting official has the right and maybe even the obligation to exercise his or her official powers - which, in Illinois, include appointing a new U.S. Senator when a seat becomes vacant.

Also in Illinois today, the Supreme Court ruled that the Illinois Secretary of State's signature is not needed for a legal appointment of U.S. Senator. It's time for the U.S. Senate to seat Roland Burris.
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