Obama Senate Resignation Is Also About Seniority for Illinois

By Al Giordano

President-elect Barack Obama announces he'll resign from the US Senate as of Sunday, with these words:

"It has been one of the highest honors and privileges of my life to have served the people of Illinois in the United States Senate.  In a state that represents the crossroads of a nation, I have met so many men and women who've taken different journeys, but hold common hopes for their children's future.  It is these Illinois families and their stories that will stay with me as I leave the United States Senate and begin the hard task of fulfilling the simple hopes and common dreams of all Americans as our nation's next President."

In addition to the many reasons to want to focus on the executive job ahead (and not get mangled in the final weeks of the current Democratic caucus in the upper branch; the Lieberman conundrum to be voted on Tuesday and other sticky wickets), there's another reason for the move: It allows Illinois' next US Senator (to be appointed by the state's Democratic governor) to get a step up on seniority over the incoming class of two Udalls, a Shaheen, a Warner, a Hagan, a Merkley, probably a Begich, quite possibly a Franken and maybe even a Martin in the Democratic caucus.

There's all kinds of speculation over who will be appointed, with an eye toward reelection in 2010. US Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. clearly wants it. Some Democrats worry that his family name will make it more difficult for Democrats to hold the seat in a statewide vote. Obama best friend Valerie Jarrett has taken herself out of the running. Keep an eye on US Rep. Jan Schakowsky (in the photo above), and, really, in terms of sheer legislative talent and conscience she'd fast become a major player in the Senate.

The understandable suggestion that Obama's exit from the Senate leaves the body without a single African-American puts a responsibility on embattled Gov. Rod Blagojevich to appoint a new senator of that demographic may be eased somewhat by the following two-step: The announcement of Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts as the next Secretary of State followed by an immediate announcement by Gov. Deval Patrick of the Bay State that he'll seek Kerry's seat. (In Massachusetts, Mitt Romney's former governorship gave the Democratic state legislature the willies over a possible senate appointment, and stripped the governor of appointing powers: instead, a special election would be called in 150 days.)  However, Obama's having moved the Illinois process forward by so many weeks makes it unlikely that those two steps could occur before Blagojevich makes his call. And there's no guarantee that Patrick would win his party primary in Massachusetts if he did seek the post.

(Just to get yer brains spinning: A similar set of musical chairs could occur later down the line with an appointment to the US Supreme Court of US Senator Hillary Clinton and a subsequent self-appointment by New York Gov. David Paterson.)

Whomever gets the Illinois seat will now move six, seven, eight, or nine steps ahead in the seniority line which will pay off in better committee appointments and a faster track to chairmanships, Obama's parting gift to the Land of Lincoln.

Meanwhile: Fieldhand Suzy Shure sends in this very funny joke:

One sunny day in late January, 2009 an old man approached the White House from Across Pennsylvania Avenue, where he'd been sitting on a park bench.

He spoke to the U.S. Marine standing guard and said, "I would like to go in and meet with President Bush."

The Marine looked at the man and said, "Sir, Mr. Bush is no longer president and no longer resides here."

The old man said, "Okay", and walked away.'

The following day, the same man approached the White House and said to the same Marine, "I would like to go in and meet with President Bush."

The Marine again told the man, "Sir, as I said yesterday, Mr. Bush is no longer president and no longer resides here."

The man thanked him and, again, just walked away.

The third day, the same man approached the White House and spoke to the very same U.S. Marine, saying "I would like to go in and meet with President Bush."

The Marine, understandably agitated at this point, looked at the man and said, "Sir, this is the third day in a row you have been here asking to speak to Mr. Bush. I've told you already that Mr. Bush is no longer the president and no longer resides here. Don't you understand?"

The old man looked at the Marine and said, "Oh, I understand. I just love hearing it."

The Marine snapped to attention, saluted, and said, "See you tomorrow, Sir."

Update: Make that a possible ten steps ahead in line for the next Illinois senator: Joe Biden will at some point be replaced in his Delaware seat by an appointee from the state's current or pending Democratic governor, depending on when he makes the leap.

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About Al Giordano

Biography

Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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