- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 1, 2009

No jest

“Since he was federally charged with trying to sell President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate seat to the highest bidder, Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been wrongly caricatured as some kind of hapless jester prancing on the edge of madness,” Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass writes.

“Jesters hold rattles with a likeness of their heads on the end of a stick, and they hop off into a corner, prattling to themselves. That’s what jesters do,” Mr. Kass said.

“Jesters don’t pick up the race card in a nationally televised news conference and slam it into the face of every Democrat in the U.S. Senate, a palm heel strike to the tip of the nose, leaving all of them watery-eyed, their lips stinging.

“Yet that’s what Blagojevich - aided by former Black Panther-turned-Daley-machine-functionary Bobby Rush — did at that stupendous news conference in Chicago on Tuesday. That’s when the governor appointed Democratic empty-suit Roland Burris, an African-American, to fill the Senate seat vacated by Obama. … It was a brazen move, and a smart one, and though the race card was ugly, there was no passion in it. There was no lunacy involved. …

“Senate Democrats are talking tough now, saying they won’t seat Burris, but that won’t hold. The debate has been framed. The only African-American in the Senate leaves for the White House, another African-American is appointed to fill that spot, and Democratic politicians know they owe their livelihoods to African-American voters.”

Rockin’ Rod

“Back off, bleepin’ Blagojevich bashers. Rockin’ Rod just showed us where to stick our outrage,” Chicago Sun-Times columnist Carol Marin writes.

“On Tuesday, Illinois’ Elvis exhibited the testicular virility he brags about with the decision to barrel ahead - despite certain indictment and impeachment - and appoint Roland Burris to fill the Senate seat of Barack Obama. He sent a screamingly loud message that the King isn’t dead and quite happy to inflict pain on those who currently afflict him,” the columnist said.

“Admit it. It was a brilliant move. Here we have cable television’s Goat-of-the-Moment putting everyone else on notice. … Illinois politicians, few of them profiles in courage, better tread carefully with their African-American constituency. That might include President-elect Obama, who has endorsed his fair share of regular Chicago Democrats. …

“Obama knows that as long as Rod Blagojevich continues to star in his own version of the ‘Sopranos,’ this soap opera trumps discussion of the economy and foreign policy at his upcoming news conferences. It’s like having a Blagojevich ball and chain around his leg.”

The Chicago columnist added, “Let’s face it, the nation is mesmerized by us. We are like one of those television specials on National Geographic featuring a newly discovered, strange and self-destructive tribe that somehow still endures through the wacky cult of personality exhibited by its leaders.”

Camelot itch

“The very same media which spent months dismissing former mayor and Gov. Sarah Palin as too inexperienced for national office is now championing a woman whose primary qualification - her only qualification - is her last name,” the Media Research Center’s L. Brent Bozell writes at www.mrc.org.

“The very same media which still mock Palin’s folksy ‘you betcha’ or her interview with Katie Couric don’t seem to notice when John Fund reports that in one 30-minute interview on the cable news channel New York One, Caroline Kennedy used the slang ‘you know’ a total of 168 times,” Mr. Bozell said.

“How will Caroline Kennedy be expected to cast votes in the Senate when she’s cared so little about voting as a citizen? Faced with reports that she had missed voting in several New York elections, including the 1994 re-election effort of Sen. Daniel Moynihan (the Senate seat she now expects to be handed like royalty), Kennedy told the Associated Press, ‘I was really surprised and dismayed by my voting record. I’m glad it’s been brought to my attention.’

“What?”

“There’s a long line of New York politicians who are more qualified and more deserving of a Senate seat than this dippy heiress — even liberal ones. Yet they have to watch this wannabe sound like one of her limo drivers just handed her the dismaying news of her own voting history? You know?

“But the Kennedy-worshiping media elite just can’t stop scratching their Camelot itch, showing those ridiculously over-broadcasted home movies of the Kennedy kids, and marveling over Caroline Kennedy’s life story.”

Deja vu

“If you think Caroline Kennedy is following her family’s lead in trying to start at the top in a big job in politics (which has sometimes been referred to as show business for ugly people) with much too much chutzpah and too few credentials, you would be right, but you might also be somewhat mistaken in where the true model might lie,” Noemie Emery writes at www.weeklystandard.com.

“True, in 1962 Uncle Ted jumped into the Senate at 30 with naught but his name to commend him, but it is true too and largely forgotten that in 1967 and 1968 Caroline’s Aunt Lee, her mother’s younger and even more beautiful sister, tried to jump into show business (which might be called politics for good-looking people), through family names, extended connections, and powerful friends,” the writer said.

“Substitute Caroline Kennedy for Princess Lee Radziwill; substitute Ted Kennedy and Mayor Mike Bloomberg for Truman Capote; substitute the Senate for the great stage that it sometimes resembles, and you have deja vu all over again, as Yogi Berra once put it: the same reflective celebrity, based on the same woman and family; the same second-hand and borrowed charisma; and the same sad story of rash expectations, and the nemesis hubris can bring.”

Have a seat

A furniture company called Leather Creations took out this ad in the Chicago Tribune:

“We sell more seats than the Governor … and our Senate seat costs only $1,999 (plus this sofa lasts much longer than 6 years).”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected] times.com.

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