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I have to say up front that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is one of my least favorite politicians. I find him to be dishonest, ultra-partisan, and corrupt. Having said that, Reid did make a few points during his Meet The Press interview yesterday that I agreed with. Not many, but a few. Because I'm such a non-partisan person, :) I'm not afraid to agree with Reid when he gets something right.
On the Israel-Hamas conflict:
MR. GREGORY: Let me ask you about the ground invasion into Gaza. Do you think on the part of this Israeli–of the Israelis this was offensive or defensive?
SEN. REID: I spoke to Prime Minister Olmert a couple of days ago. He indicated that they would do the ground activities. Let’s understand the background. For eight years they’ve been firing rockets into Israel. They’ve become more intense the last few months. Israelis have been killed, maimed and injured. Sometimes more than 200 a day coming into Israel. If this were going on in the United States from Vancouver, Canada, into Seattle, would we react? Course we do. We would have to. I think what the Israelis are doing is very important. I think this terrorist organization, Hamas, has got to be put away. They’ve got to come to their senses. The Fatah group, which is–makes up part of Palestinian group, has a peace arrangement with Israel. Hamas should do the same.
MR. GREGORY: And they’re in power in the West Bank.
SEN. REID: That’s right. And, and, and Israel, for–since 1967, controlled Gaza. They gave it to the Palestinians as a gesture of peace. And all they got are a bunch of rockets in return.
Bingo. Score one for Harry Reid. I expected him to say "the war is lost", and that Israel should surrender. I interpret Reid's comments as a signal that Obama supports Israel.
On seating Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich's appointee Roland Burris in the Senate:
MR. GREGORY: Back when this story first broke, when the charges of corruption were brought against Governor Blagojevich, you put him on notice. And you had a letter that was signed by all Senate Democrats that said, in part, the following: “We write to insist that you step down as governor of Illinois and under no circumstance make an appointment to fill the vacant Illinois Senate seat. Please understand that should you decide to ignore the request … and make an appointment we would be forced to exercise our Constitutional authority under Article 1, Section 5, to determine whether such a person should be seated.” In other words, you can reject that appointment.
SEN. REID: Blagojevich obviously is a corrupt individual. I think that’s pretty clear. And the reason that he’s done what he’s done is to divert attention from the arrest that was just made of him and the indictment which will be coming in a few days, according to the U.S. attorney in Illinois. That’s why President-elect Obama agreed with us that Mr. Burris is tainted. Not as a result of anything that he’s done wrong. There’s–I don’t know a thing wrong with Mr. Burris. It’s not the person that has been appointed, it’s the appointee.
I agree with Reid up to this point. Blagojevich shouldn't have made a Senatorial appointment with such a cloud hanging over his head. Blago defied the wishes of the President-elect and the Congressional Democrats. Pretty arrogant of him. However, there's a problem. Blago is still entitled as governor to make the appointment, and an even bigger question is, do Reid and his fellow Senators have the Constitutional authority to deny Burris ?
MR. GREGORY: A critical editorial on the LA Times made this argument: “The Constitution says that each house of Congress `shall be the judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its own members’ and may punish members for `disorderly behavior’ or, on a two-thirds vote, expel a sitting member. Neither provision justifies excluding a senator because of the unrelated wrongdoing of the governor making the appointment. … It’s doubtful whether the Senate could refuse to seat … any duly elected (or by extension appointed) member who met age, residency and citizenship requirements...what in the Constitution allows you to judge Roland Burris in, in this manner, to not seat him?
SEN. REID: The LA Times quoted part of it itself from the Constitution: We determine who sits in the Senate, and the House determines who sits in the House. So there’s clearly legal authority for us to do whatever we want to. This goes back for generations.
This is where Harry Reid goes off the rails, in my opinion. The Constitution doesn't entitle Congress to "do whatever we want to do." If it did, they could arbitrarily eject any Senator for any manufactured reason, or for no reason at all. Imagine the political ramifications of that, not to mention how it could be used to subvert the will of the people and nullify elections. The 17th Amendment specifies that, whenever there is a vacancy in any state's Senate representation, the state's legislature "may empower [its] executive . . . to make temporary appointments until the people fill the [vacancy] by election as the legislature may direct." This means if Burris' appointment is to be nullified, it should be done by Illinois, not at the federal level, not by Harry Reid, not by Congress, and not by Barack Obama. As I see it, the only Constitutional claim from the federal level not to seat Burris would be if he didn't possess the necessary qualifications, or if he had committed some crime or indiscretion. Nobody is suggesting that of Burris, therefore, Reid has no Constitutional power to deny him. Even if we buy into the notion that Burris is the "fruit of the poisoned tree" (didn't Obama used to call this "guilt by association" when it was directed at him ?), remember that Blagojevich hasn't been convicted of anything yet. He is entitled to due process, and Burris isn't guilty of anything as far as we know. In every prior case where Congress refused to seat someone (Adam Clayton Powell, Frank Smith, Theodore Bilbo), there was corruption on the part of the Congressperson being seated. Powell was accused of financial wrongdoing. Smith was accused of corruption and campaign financing irregularities. Bilbo was a white supremacist who was accused of corrupt campaign practices and intimidating black voters. The Burris appointment may stink, but I can't find any Constitutional authority for the feds to deny him.
Harry Reid has another problem. Roland Burris is, gasp, black.
MR. GREGORY: People close to Roland Burris are raising another suggestion, and this is how Politico reports it this morning: “Top advisers to [Burris] are suggesting that Reid doesn’t want an African-American to succeed Obama.
This is, of course, nonsense, but I included it to show how much it sucks to be on the wrong side of the PC knee-jerk identity police, a practice that Harry Reid has used himself against Republicans. How does it feel to be on the receiving end, Harry ? Go ahead, prove to us you aren't a racist. Impossible, isn't it ?
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