January 3, 2009

So Harry Reid pressured Blagojevich not to appoint Jesse Jackson, Jr. — AKA "Candidate 5."

This happened before Blago's arrest. According to the Chicago Tribune. The reason — which does not make Reid look bad — is that Reid didn't think Jackson could win in a statewide election. It's that whole statewide election problem that seems to account for the lack of black Senators (when there are plenty of blacks in the House of Representatives).

But Blagojevich felt pressured to appoint a black person to Barack Obama's seat. It's one thing when only white candidates win those statewide elections, quite another for a Governor with the appointment power to pass over all the most prominent black politicians in his party.

The structural problem is obvious. Congressional districts are drawn to increase the power of black voters, with majority minority districts, and then the district is won by a black politician who designs his policies to appeal most strongly to these voters. In 2001, the radical Bobby Rush trounced Barack Obama in a congressional primary race:
Mr. Rush won the primary with 61.02 percent of the vote; Mr. Obama had just over 30 percent. Mr. Obama was favored by whites but lost among blacks, Mr. Lester said. Looking back, some say the magnitude of the loss reflected Mr. Obama’s failure to connect with black, working-class voters. Mr. Mikva said, “It indicated that he had not made his mark in the African-American community and didn’t particularly have a style that resonated there.”
Obama — the black politician who is atypically popular with white voters — was able to move directly to the Senate, bypassing the House. But the House has plenty of black representatives who, despite their accomplishments, can't move up to the Senate — at least not without a boost from a Governor with an empty seat to fill. And that Governor is pressured by his party not to put the black congresssman in the slot because he'll be too easy to defeat in the next statewide election. Ironically, what was supposed to increase the number of blacks in Congress works to keep them in the House.

I'm beginning to feel that Jackson was ripped off. Wasn't he the natural choice for the seat?

***

Meanwhile, over at the Chicago-Sun Times, Roland Burris said "We are the senator."
"There is no confrontation here, there is no antagonism here," Burris said in a phone interview from Chicago. "And so we are proceeding very diplomatically, and we are proceeding with all concern about not creating any type of circus that will entertain the media."
A circus? Will there be clowns???

49 comments:

Palladian said...

Welcome to the Banana Republic of America. Geez. Why don't we stop the charade of elections and just have our "betters" appoint people from now on? We're almost there.

"But the House has plenty of black representatives who, despite their accomplishments, can't move up to the Senate — at least not without a boost from a Governor with an empty seat to fill."

Isn't this a pretty basic definition of "affirmative action"?

So, despite what you wrote yesterday, the Burris appointment is affirmative action.

cubanbob said...

Gerrymandering and racial spoils are the curse of our system. If congressional districts, indeed all districts at all levels were simply apportioned in accordance to coherent boundaries that encompass existing contiguous cities and counties a lot of the corruption would be eliminated.

When a politician has to run 'at large' it tends to moderate the actions of the official and dampen the special interests.

Roadkill said...

A circus? Will there be clowns???


If they seat Al Franken, the answer is yes.

MadisonMan said...

What would happen if all the House Members were 'at large' and had to run state-wide? In WI, the top 8 winners would get seats. In CA, the top -- what -- 55? -- would. You could still focus your run in your region of strength and hope to pull enough votes elsewhere to be a shoe-in.

That would be an interesting way to do things.

Ann Althouse said...

"Isn't this a pretty basic definition of "affirmative action"?"

You are missing my point. These politicians have crafted their message to appeal to a district, but when it comes time to run for the statewide office, they can't win because it's the wrong message. I'm talking about the difficulty winning in a fair fight after you've gained an advantage on a previous occasion. The original advantage becomes a hindrance.

That should look more like an argument against affirmative action than an argument for it.

"Despite what you wrote yesterday, the Burris appointment is affirmative action."

I didn't deny that Blago picked Burris in part because of his race. Clearly, he did. What I said yesterday is that the Senate Democrats will look like especially bad if they block him from taking his seat, because he is black.

But I think the Governor has the appointment power, and -- unless the Senate can prove that the choice was corrupt -- that Senate must seat him. And that's the same whether he's black or white.

Lem said...

No wonder Fits needs more time..

It's not who talked to Blago about the seat, it's more like who didn't..

I'm going on a limb and excuse the pope ;)

Ralph said...

Why does Reid think he knows who is electable in Illinois better than its governor?

MayBee said...

Yes, I think Jesse Jackson Jr was ripped off. Certainly nobody Obama and his friends wanted in the seat were guaranteed to be more electable than JJJ.

Which of the blogging head people that you posted once, Althouse, said that Obama does not like to share the limelight with other black people? I think we're seeing that here.

dbp said...

"These politicians have crafted their message to appeal to a district, but when it comes time to run for the statewide office, they can't win because it's the wrong message."

Maybe true, or it could be that majority minority districts select for politicians too radical to win state-wide. I think there is a lot of merit to MadisonMan's idea of at-large reps. It would mean that even in states like Mass. We would have at least a couple of Republican house members.

MayBee said...

What I said yesterday is that the Senate Democrats will look like especially bad if they block him from taking his seat, because he is black.

And now especially so. We know he wasn't on Reid's preferred list of candidates. So is Harry blocking him because Blagojevich appointed him, or because Harry doesn't think he can win state-wide in 2010?

MayBee said...

I think there is a lot of merit to MadisonMan's idea of at-large reps.

But it's a horrible idea in a state like Michigan. The Detroit area has the numbers, but produces the most ridiculous candidates. Western Michigan is more conservative, but would have trouble getting the numbers to get representation in an at-large election.

dbp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr Dre's Underpants said...

Damn lady you will do anything to kiss the ass of black folks.

Why you feel so guilty?

dbp said...

I don't think JJJ was "ripped-off". The only person who deserves a seat in the Senate is one elected to that post.

I wonder how exactly Harry Reid could pressure Blagojevich? Sure, he can express his opinion about the suitability of JJJ, but what could he really do to exert pressure?

walter neff said...

At large elections were deemed unconstitutional in New York City for the City Council.

Of course if it would benefit liberals then it would be fine and dandy

Ralph said...

dbp, state governments depend on large amounts of federal money, which is controlled by Congress.

Lem said...

Maybe Harry thought Jesse Jr was going to stink up the senate ;)

Ann Althouse said...

"I wonder how exactly Harry Reid could pressure Blagojevich? Sure, he can express his opinion about the suitability of JJJ, but what could he really do to exert pressure?"

I just read that the Congress was about to hand out $1 trillion to the various Governors...

Original George said...

It's just a shadow you're seein' that he's chasin'.

The clown.

Let me forget about today until tomorrow.

You need a special rider to blow that kind of smoke.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Gerrymandering the districts in order to assure that you get the minority candidate of your choice, or the liberal candidate as in California, is the same thing as pre selecting college applicants based on their race so you can have a pre selected quota. Preferential treatment not based on actual merits of the college applicant or on the political merits of the candidate.

Affirmative action. Period.

If the candidate or party has to cheat and manipulate the population districts they don't really deserve to win, because are they "really" representing the people as a whole, or are they being chosen to only represent a selected minority.

This is why a State Senator will most likely NOT be a minority even though they can gerrymander the individual districts. Boo Hoo. It isn't fair. So....life isn't fair....so the Democrats cheat.

As Palladian says. Welcome to the Banana Republic of America. Why do we even bother to follow the laws when our so called leaders don't bother??? Hmmm?

somefeller said...

In 2001, the radical Bobby Rush trounced Barack Obama in a congressional primary race

And you know that Bobby Rush hates to see that the guy he beat is now going to the White House, so he will take every opportunity he can find to make life hard for Obama. Like by making a big show in favor of Blago's choice of Burris, complete with race-baiting and all the tools he's used over the years to get to where he is.

What was it that JFK said? Sometimes party loyalty demands too much?

Ann Althouse said...

"Gerrymandering the districts in order to assure that you get the minority candidate of your choice, or the liberal candidate as in California, is the same thing as pre selecting college applicants based on their race so you can have a pre selected quota. Preferential treatment not based on actual merits of the college applicant or on the political merits of the candidate. Affirmative action. Period."

Basically, yes, at that stage. But my point is that once a politician has played that game and won at that level, he's kind of screwed. There's no affirmative action in the statewide election, and the affirmative action at the district level has shaped him into a candidate that the state won't accept. If so, the seeming benefit has turned into a trap.

"If the candidate or party has to cheat and manipulate the population districts they don't really deserve to win, because are they "really" representing the people as a whole, or are they being chosen to only represent a selected minority."

But the candidate isn't the one who drew the district. He entered the system he found and played it well. But playing it well is disabling in the search for higher office.

"This is why a State Senator will most likely NOT be a minority even though they can gerrymander the individual districts. Boo Hoo. It isn't fair. So....life isn't fair....so the Democrats cheat."

I think the GOP supports this districting too... and has benefited from it.

"As Palladian says. Welcome to the Banana Republic of America. Why do we even bother to follow the laws when our so called leaders don't bother??? Hmmm?"

Majority minority districts are the law. If they are too extreme, they do violate the Constitution, and the courts deal with it.

somefeller said...

Oh shut up, DBQ. I doubt you complain much when gerrymandering (a political tool that has existed long before minorities were given the right to vote) is used to create solid GOP districts, as it does in many states.

And for someone who likes to claim others are whining ("Boo Hoo"), you never seem to miss the opportunity to do lots of whining of your own, generally coupled with a good helping of chip-on-the-shoulder resentment.

MayBee said...

Basically, yes, at that stage. But my point is that once a politician has played that game and won at that level, he's kind of screwed. There's no affirmative action in the statewide election, and the affirmative action at the district level has shaped him into a candidate that the state won't accept. If so, the seeming benefit has turned into a trap.

Barack Obama was a State Senator from a very liberal district. He did everything he could to get his seat without actually running against somebody.
Somehow he got everyone to ignore his record to become a candidate the state (and country!) would accept.

rhhardin said...

Ironically, what was supposed to increase the number of blacks in Congress works to keep them in the House.

The Senate requires a statewide win, which is gerrymander-proof whether House districts are gerrymandered or not.

So I don't see the irony.

From Inwood said...

Prof A

You note perceptively (I paraphrase), that once a politician has successfully played the Affirmative Action game at the micro level, his game persona has made him unfit for the macro level; a seeming benefit has turned into a trap.

A new application of the Peter Principle to politics: The Althouse Generalized Principle of Political Affirmative Action:
In political evolution, systems tend to develop up to the limit of their adaptive competence.

But then you go & spoil it all by having voted for The One.

From Inwood said...

May Bee

I repeated your thought somewhat. I'm typing on word while watching the football playoff.

Ralph said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ralph said...

But the candidate isn't the one who drew the district
The state-level incumbents draw their own districts, and federal largess to the states gives federal officeholders (good 'ol Delay [whatever happened to him?]) leverage over them.

I remember the GHWB Justice dept pushed the majority minority districts after 1990 using the Voting Rights Act, which helped create safe Rep (and also black) seats in the South and a lot more work for lawyers. Ironic, since both Bushes hated the "partisan bickering" that resulted from increased polarization.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

There's no affirmative action in the statewide election, and the affirmative action at the district level has shaped him into a candidate that the state won't accept. If so, the seeming benefit has turned into a trap..

This is true for the afirmative action political candidate as it is for the afirmative action college student. There was a study that (I'm too busy to look up right now) that showed that if the minority student were not artificially pushed into a more advanced college in the beginning of their college career, they would have had a better chance of success. Less drop out ratio and less stress.

Affirmative action mostly (not always) tends to give false confidence and a false idea of their actual ability to compete. Just like you said. It can turn into a trap and can be a cruel thing in some cases. It's kind of like the parents who always let their children win, never let them fail, never let them deal with adversity, constantly shower them with praise.. they raise children who can't deal with the reality of life.

I think the GOP supports this districting too... and has benefited from it.

Of course. The party in power changes and makes the rules and gerrymanders to suit themselves. As I said, in California, it happens to be the liberals/Dems. Doesn't make it right, no matter who does it.

And...Somefeller, can sit on it and rotate. :-)

Lem said...

But then you go & spoil it all by having voted for The One.

I'm sorry folks but the prof's vote was just one vote.

The one won by way more than one, I for one, ready to give her one more chance ;)

dbp said...

"I just read that the Congress was about to hand out $1 trillion to the various Governors..."

True. But the incoming president is also from IL and he has got to sign bills before they can be enacted. I doubt Obama is going to allow Reid to stiff his home state.

Lem said...

The professor cheated but I aint bitter.

David said...

Althouse says: "I'm beginning to feel that Jackson was ripped off. Wasn't he the natural choice for the seat?"

Well, he was a natural choice, though not the only one.

As to being ripped off, Jesse Jr. is being hurt by the entire system that creates guaranteed seats for African Americans. Very few African Americans have to develop skills and positions that will make them attractive candidates to both white and black voters. They can be--to put it starkly--ghetto candidates. This approach has benefited the Democratic party and has increased black representation in the House of Representatives. But it has also resulted in a kind of isolation for blacks politically.

There are exceptions. Obama. Rep. Clyborne from my home state of SC, who comes from an African American district but has made a point in his entire career of having an effective interest in broader issues than the traditional African American ones. He has thus become a power in the House of Rep. and could be Speaker (though he would not have a chance at the Senate in Republican SC.)

Every silver lining has a cloud, unfortunately for Jesse Jr. He has been helped by carrying his father's name, but in this case that hurts him.)

(Disclosure: my sensible daughter knows Jesse Jr. and has a high opinion of him.)

Der Hahn said...

I'm developing a case of Coulrophobia.

Stephanie said...

When the parade does begin - we've already got the clowns assembling for the parade down Main Street and everyone knows you can't have a quality circus without the parade -

Who exits the clown car first?
Who wears the water squirting flower pin?
Who gets the first pie in the face?
Who throws it?
Who finally shoos them all off stage?

and most importantly...

Did the clown car leave a clown shoe sized carbon footprint?

I can haz popcorn now?

Simon said...

dbp said...
"The only person who deserves a seat in the Senate is one elected to that post."

There's a difference between deserves and entitled to. There are a number of people sitting in the Senate who are entitled to do so but certainly don't deserve to.

Stephanie said...

Both words are entitlement words. One just less obviously so.

Try "Earned."

Michael_H said...

Why is it a race thing? I'd bet C K Schlossberg couldn't win a statewide election in New York, and she's, like, really, white, you know.

Skyler said...

Our hostess wrote: "It's one thing when only white candidates win those statewide elections, quite another for a Governor with the appointment power to pass over all the most prominent black politicians in his party."

And later,

"Basically, yes, at that stage. But my point is that once a politician has played that game and won at that level, he's kind of screwed."

It seems to me that this is just more evidence that racism is only allowed if you're black. Whites generally aren't racist anymore, but blacks are. Prof. Althouse appears to acknowlege this.

Ann Althouse said...

Skyler, are you saying that a politician running in a majority black district is racist if he devises his message to appeal to them? All successful politicians hone their message to appeal to the voters in whatever geographic area they want to represent. There's nothing wrong with that. They are trying to become representatives, so they tune themselves to what they thing the voters want and what would benefit them (among other things). I'm not putting black candidates in a special category and saying they can do things others can't.

Skyler said...

Ann, it's that the message that these politicians are obliged to craft to be elected in these specially crafted districts is designed to be a message that reflects decades of affirmative action and pro-black racsim.

dick said...

But how would that affect Burris. He has already won a state-wide election as a black candidate when he was elected AG. Seems to me that would trump Jesse Jr right there.

Eli Blake said...

It has nothing to do with a black candidate not being able to win a statewide election (after all, both of the last two Democrats who hold that seat were black, and both were elected to it). It has to do with Jesse Jackson Jr. not being able to win a statewide election. You are confusing one specific individual (who after all does have some baggage) with a whole racial/ethnic group. Notice that two of the other candidates who were being considered at the time (Valerie Jarrett and Emil Jones) were both black, and Mr. Reid had no objection to either of them.

As far as black majority districts, I'd point out that 1) rep. Steve Cohen, a white Jew, won re-election easily in a Democratic primary in a majority black district in Tennessee (in a race where his opponent made both race and religion and issue and got totally crushed), and 2) Anh Cao, a Republican Vietnamese-American was recently elected in a heavily black district in New Orleans, beating the indicted William Jefferson. So the assumption that black-majority districts can only elect blacks, has been decisively proven false this year. In both of those races African-American voters chose to reject a flawed African-American candidate and vote for a better choice.

Ann Althouse said...

Eli Blake said..."It has nothing to do with a black candidate not being able to win a statewide election (after all, both of the last two Democrats who hold that seat were black, and both were elected to it). It has to do with Jesse Jackson Jr. not being able to win a statewide election. You are confusing one specific individual (who after all does have some baggage) with a whole racial/ethnic group. Notice that two of the other candidates who were being considered at the time (Valerie Jarrett and Emil Jones) were both black, and Mr. Reid had no objection to either of them."

First, the linked article says Reid did object to Jones.

Second, my point is not about all black candidates or about only Jackson. It's about black candidates who start by representing a majority minority district in the House of Representatives. Neither Barack Obama nor Carol Mosley Braun were in that category.

"So the assumption that black-majority districts can only elect blacks, has been decisively proven false this year."

I said nothing about any such assumption.

Eric said...

I can only imagine what the Democrats would have said if Bill Frist had sent a list of five acceptable (white) candidates and three unacceptable (black) candidates to a Republican governor.

Oh wait. Actually, it's pretty easy to imagine what they would have said.

knox said...

"We are senator" ?

I really dislike the tendency for politicians and celebrities to use the royal "we" when referring to themselves.

Richard Fagin said...

I was going to say, no, Jackson, Jr. is not the natural choice for the Illinois Senate seat, but in fairness that would be attributing the sins of his father to him. Mike Barone says that calling Jackson an effective Congressman is "not a risibie" comment. Good enough recommendation.

The real reason blacks have not been elevated to the Senate is their politics, not their race. After all, the first black Senator since Reconstruction was Ed Brooke, a Republican. From Massachusetts, no less.

Joe said...

If Reid actually threatened to withhold funds, isn't that logically the same as offering to give funds? Wasn't Reid trying to buy a Senator?