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Musical Chairs — and Seats?

The Democrats are collecting sticky situations: Bill Richardson, Blago, and Charlie Rangel, to name a few. Thanks to Blago and a tenacious Roland Burris we are going to have some more headlines devoted to the precarious basis for excluding a non-corrupt and otherwise qualified senate designee. And the Richardson misstep is going to get some ink of its own.

Questions remain about why the Obama team stumbled over a nominee whose legal problems were already the subject of media reports:

Now some Democrats are questioning Obama’s vetting process —- and asking whether Obama’s team went far enough in pushing the New Mexico governor for information in face of the federal grand jury probe that has been public since August.

It’s the first high-profile stumble for an Obama transition that generally has run smoothly so far—and it deprives Obama of the highest-ranking Hispanic member of his Cabinet, already prompting cries from Latino groups for a prominent replacement.

The poster children for bad behavior certainly are piling up:

Some said Obama just couldn’t weather having his administration touched by a second so-called “pay-to-play” scandal, like the allegations against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich that already have caused Obama himself and two top aides to be questioned by federal authorities, who have said the president-elect did nothing wrong.

“The incoming administration didn’t need the additional distraction of Gov. Richardson at Commerce, with the anticipated fight with [Eric] Holder at Justice and the complications from Blagojevich knocking them a little off track,” said a GOP Senate aide. “Investigations like these drag on and on and likely would not have been complete by mid-February when they would want the full Cabinet in place.

And there’s one more pothole coming down the road for the Democrats. You guessed it: the increasingly embarrassing potential Senate designee, Caroline Kennedy. Is excluding Burris and welcoming Caroline to the U.S. Senate really what the New Politics is all about? One begins to wonder if crooks and famous children have replaced Big Labor as the favorite Democratic constituencies. Steven Calabresi argues:

With Barack Obama’s election there are no African Americans currently serving in the Senate which is a disgrace.  None of the 58 other Democratic Senators are African Americans.  Let Burris (who has himself done nothing wrong) take his seat and let the Democratic Governors of New York and Delaware appoint African Americans to those two Senate vacancies as well instead of handing them over to Senator Kennedy’s niece and Senator Biden’s son (with a seat warmer for two years) as is currently being planned.  What do Senate Democrats stand for:  Racial fairness or nepotism?

(Okay, it’s not a hard question.)

Perhaps the way to move on is a game of musical chairs. Caroline to the Commerce Department and Rep. Carolyn Mahoney (a Catholic woman pol with some actual experience) to the Senate? Or Burris to Commerce and Caroline for the Illinois Senate seat? Or Burris for Rahm Emanuel’s open House seat and some other unemployed Kennedy (Joe II may be looking for work now that Hugo Chavez’s oil business is on the skids) for the New York Senate seat? You get the idea. There has to be an arrangement, which the unlucky Obama staffer tasked with this headache can devise, to staunch the bad news. (The name of the game: put the most undeserving in the least visible role.)

That vaunted social network which Obama has put together might take time out from offering up ideas for a healthcare plan to come up with a good solution to minimize the cringe-factor for the Democrats. In any event, the Democrats better get smart quickly – or the voters are going to start wondering why it was that they gave the “party of the common man” control of the government.



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