Commentary Magazine


Republicans Should Listen to Napoleon

If there’s one thing that’s indisputably true about the whole unfolding Rod Blagojevich scandal, it’s that it’s rife with entertainment value. And latest developments should inspire political junkies to break out the popcorn.

Blagojevich’s new handpicked Senator, Roland Burris has already headed for DC. But the Illinois Attorney General has said he will not certify Burris’s appointment, and Democratic leaders in the Senate say they will not seat him — and will have him turned away by armed guards.

Now, there are good arguments to be made on both sides regarding the Attorney General’s authority to refuse certifying the appointment, and even better arguments about whether or not the Senate can refuse to seat Burris. But it’s fairly likely that the issue will result in a Senate vote on accepting or rejecting Burris.

And Republicans with both a sense of irony and strategy should simply vote “Present.”

Right now, this is an entirely Democratic political mess. Blagojevich is a Democrat, Burris is a Democrat, the Attorney General is a Democrat, Obama (the former seat holder) is a Democrat, and the Senate is controlled by Democrats.  There is an argument to be made that the Republicans should be able to get involved (after all, the Senate seat is not Democratic property, and Senate membership is not a partisan affair). But they should, in this case, leave the entire sorry mess in the hands of the Democrats.

Napoleon once said “never interrupt your opponent when he is making a mistake.” Right now, the Democrats aren’t precisely making a mistake, but they are on the horns of at least two no-win dilemmas, and Republican involvement would give the Democrats a chance to apportion some misery across the aisle.

Right now, the whole Blagojevich/Obama/Burris Senate mess is providing tremendous fodder for the talking heads and a terrific “fix” for political junkies in the slow period leading up to the new Congress taking office and Obama’s inauguration. There’s no need for Republicans to put a damper on the entertainment.