As we approach the beginning of a new Congress and the inauguration of the “change” president-elect Barack Obama, the Democrat Party faces old school challenges. As the tally for the U.S. Senate stands now, three Democrats seats remain unfilled.
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, under the specter of indictment for offering a Senate seat to the highest bidder, appointed a Democrat with a track record and credentials to fill the Illinois Senate seat vacated by the president-elect. U.S. Senate Democrat leaders and the Illinois Secretary of State both balked at seating ANYONE appointed by Blagojevich given his recent history. Now legal authorities question whether anyone can stop the seating of Buris as the governor has unfettered discretion even though he has abused that discretion. This Democrat infighting cannot be beneficial to the president elect.
In New York, Senator Hillary Clinton, former presidential candidate, is now an appointee for the Obama cabinet. Two complications bubble up in this situation. First, will Governor Patterson appoint JFK’s daughter Caroline Kennedy to take Clinton’s seat? In face of complaints that Kennedy is untested and lacks credentials, Patterson, according to reports, continues to consider Kennedy as a candidate. Kennedy’s self-promotion tours failed based on news accounts. If nominated, can she get reelected? Is that something that Patterson should consider? Would Kennedy need to be able to campaign or will name recognition be enough?
On January 3, 2008, the New York Times reported the appearance of impropriety for Senator Clinton after reviewing the financial records of former President Bill Clinton’s foundation. A developer Robert J. Congel donated $100,000 to Bill Clinton’s foundation during the course of Hillary Clinton’s promotion and advocacy of Congel’s bid for tax breaks to expand and renovate a mall in Syracuse. Under normal circumstances, Bill Clinton’s finances would not be under such scrutiny. In consideration for a nomination of Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton agreed, as a condition of such nomination, to disclose these financial documents. Should the Senate simply ignore the coincidence?
Further consider, that Hillary Clinton’s husband received donations from countries with which she will be required to negotiate, threaten and work with if she is confirmed by the Senate. Is this complicated relationship-the Clinton marriage/financial union as viewed in light of the foundation donations-an appropriate spectacle to be considering during this already stressful and tenuous political time? Will Barack Obama caste Hillary Clinton aside to avoid the further specter of corruption? Has he read “Blood Sport”?
Finally, Al Franken. Senate Republicans vow to block Franken taking a seat in the US Senate while legal challenges are pending. Legal challenges, you ask? Yes, as the recount continued during November and December, previously uncounted votes for Franken were “discovered” in hidden places. Seriously, does this pass the sniff test? Do the people of Minnesota really want us to believe that their bureaucrats are THAT incompetent?
So, it seems that during this joyous time for Democrats, the party shows signs of its own fissures. Among his other duties both domestic and international, Barack Obama should add unifier of the Democrat party. No one else has stepped into that breach. If he wants to pass his stimulus/bailout/taxpayer relief bill quickly, the president elect needs to mediate these problems. Otherwise, Congress will stalemated and the Senate Democrats will be 3 votes down!