creators.com opinion web
Liberal Opinion Conservative Opinion
Roger Simon
Roger Simon
22 Oct 2014
Fear Is Good

Can you get the light out of my eyes? No. Can you loosen the handcuffs? No. Why am I here? You coughed. … Read More.

15 Oct 2014
You Never Had It So Good. Not.

I hardly know where to begin. Ebola continues to spread around the world; the Islamic State pushes closer to … Read More.

8 Oct 2014
4 Things Hillary Can Do to Win

Here are four dramatic things Hillary Clinton can do to win the presidency. Wait. Did I skip the fact that … Read More.

Does Obama's Senate Replacement Have to Be Black?

Comment

Although Barack Obama's historic election will place an African-American in the White House, it will reduce the number of African-Americans in the Senate to zero.

That's an even lonelier number than one, and it is not a number that this nation should be proud of. So the question is: Does Obama's replacement in the Senate have to be black?

Some would argue yes. And Jesse Jackson Jr., a member of the House since 1995, began campaigning for the slot even before Obama won the presidency. Jackson, son of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, was one of Obama's national co-chairs and says he would be "honored and humbled" to replace Obama.

So he's an easy choice, a shoe-in for the job, right? Well, no.

The politics of Illinois is not quite that simple. And the top contenders for the job have a tangled web of relationships with the people who will have a voice in Obama's replacement — including Obama, himself; Dick Durbin, the other Democratic senator from Illinois; Illinois Gov. Rob Blagojevich, a Democrat, who officially will make the choice; and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, now in his sixth term, who has, to put it mildly, a certain amount of influence in the state.

Jackson does not have a good relationship with Daley. They disagree on a huge local issue — whether to build a new airport south of Chicago near Jackson's district or expand O'Hare — and Jackson also toyed with the idea of running against Daley for mayor in 2007. At that time, Jackson brought up the touchy subject of fathers, saying that perhaps Mayor Daley was not proud of everything his father, the late Richard J. Daley, had done.

"His father was responsible for segregated policies of the city," Jackson said. "I'm sure the mayor is not excited about the shoot-to-kill order, the protests or how Dr. King was treated. I'm sure he is not proud of that."

Political attacks are one thing, but attacks on family are another — and in Chicago neither is forgiven. (Jackson decided not to run against Daley, who was easily re-elected.)

Blagojevich is not a fan of Jackson's either, and personalities and feuds aside, the argument used against Jackson is that he would "lack appeal downstate" when he has to run for election to the Senate seat in 2010. Lacking appeal downstate is code for "white people won't vote for him."

A Chicago political insider whom I trust says Jackson is on a list of possible replacements for Obama, but Jackson has only an outside chance.

One intriguing name on the short list is Emil Jones, 73, currently president of the Illinois Senate. He was one of Obama's political patrons, and is close to the governor and an African-American, yet I got snorts of derision when I ran his name by some other Illinois sources of mine.

That's because Jones is from the old school — he started out as a sewer inspector, which is not bad training for a life in politics — and is not a modern, ready-for-TV candidate, possessing an orator's tongue.

He is a Chicago pol — the ring tone on his cell phone is the theme from "The Godfather" — but he would a "place-holder" only and would not run in 2010. He would fill the seat with an African-American and give the other contenders plenty of time to start their campaigns.

There is another name on the short list, however, and she is not an African-American. Tammy Duckworth, an Asian-American, lost both legs in combat in Iraq — she volunteered to fly helicopters because it was one of the few combat jobs a woman could get — and was personally recruited to run for the House in 2006 by Dick Durbin with the enthusiastic support of U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, who would go on to engineer her campaign; David Axelrod, who would become her media consultant; and Obama. (Duckworth, like Obama, opposes the war in Iraq.)

Duckworth lost narrowly and is now Blagojevich's director of veterans affairs.

So a lot of important names all come together when you start looking at Duckworth. But Jesse Jackson Jr. is not giving up. Jackson has gone so far as to commission a poll, which was released Tuesday, that shows him in the lead for the job. (If the poll did not show him in the lead, would it have been released?)

Anyway, the poll by Zogby International says that when given the choice of 10 possible candidates, 21 percent of likely voters in Illinois think Blagojevich should appoint Jackson, 14 percent say Blagojevich should appoint Duckworth, and everybody else is in single digits. (Emil Jones was not among the names polled.)

But the poll also provided some interesting ammunition — for Duckworth.

According to poll, Jackson has a 43 percent favorable rating and a 22 percent unfavorable rating, which gives him a net favorable of 21. Duckworth has a favorable rating of 31 and an unfavorable rating of 9, which gives her a net favorable of 22, a point higher than Jackson.

Many more people know Jackson than Duckworth. Only 35 percent of those polled were not familiar with or not sure about him, compared with 60 percent who were not familiar with or not sure about Duckworth. So her net favorable could shrink. Or grow.

In any case, polls are not likely to matter much. This is not an election, it is an appointment, and there are a lot of people vying besides the three names I have mentioned.

But on Tuesday, which was Veterans Day, Obama laid a wreath at a memorial near Soldier Field in Chicago — and Duckworth was at his side. Being the state's director of veterans affairs, this made sense.

Obama could have selected someone else, however, or done the wreath-laying alone. But he chose to lay the wreath with Duckworth and stand for a solemn moment with his arm around her.

So does Barack Obama's replacement in the Senate have to be black? Or does his election mean we are beyond such questions?

To find out more about Roger Simon, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2008, CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.



Comments

1 Comments | Post Comment
I think picking a candidate from one ethnic group is just as wrong as not letting one compete.

Everyone who wants the job should run-post a resume (show no faces or names) and let the voters decide. Best person gets the job.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Laura
Tue Dec 9, 2008 8:20 PM
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right:  
Creators.com comments policy
More
Roger Simon
Oct. `14
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
28 29 30 1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31 1
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Marc Dion
Marc DionUpdated 27 Oct 2014
Lawrence Kudlow
Lawrence KudlowUpdated 25 Oct 2014
diane dimond
Diane DimondUpdated 25 Oct 2014

9 Jan 2008 Can You Win on Dull?

27 Aug 2010 Vilsack Offered to Resign Over Sherrod

17 Jul 2009 Don't Ask, Don't Tell