On the eve of the New Year, Gov. Rod Blagojevich, charged with conspiring to sell the Senate seat of Barack Obama, put the ball back squarely in the court of a Democratic Party that had disowned him.
Blago named Roland Burris, former attorney general of Illinois and first African-American ever to win statewide office, to fill the vacated seat. National Democrats and their media auxiliaries went berserk.
This governor, thundered The New York Times, "has taken his hubris to new heights and the misery of Illinois citizens to new lows."
This appointment "will not stand," raged Majority Leader Harry Reid.
If the distinguished 71-year-old lawyer arrives to take his seat, Reid threatened, the Senate will slam the door in his face.
But who is truly showing hubris here? And under what authority and with what justification would Reid deny Burris his seat?
There is not the slightest hint Burris did anything unethical or illegal to win this appointment. Nor is there any doubt as to Gov. Blagojevich's right to make the appointment. He is still governor of Illinois. He has not been convicted of anything. And he not only has the right but an obligation to carry out his duties, one of which is to appoint candidates to fill empty seats in the U.S. Senate.
As for Burris, his qualifications are surely superior to those of Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, whom Democrats have been pounding New York Gov. David Paterson to appoint to Hillary Clinton's seat.
Before now, Kennedy has shown zero interest in public office or a public life. She has been lax in voting and shown nothing in the way of political substance since being hailed as the next senator.
Who is to say Paterson's motives in considering Kennedy are superior to Blagojevich's motives in naming Burris?
Blagojevich must not appoint anyone, we are told, because he is charged with conspiring to sell Barack's seat, and the evidence is on the wiretap tapes cited by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.
But here in America, even a governor is innocent until proven guilty. And what exactly do those tapes show, other than that Blago and his chief of staff engaged in crude and corrupt talk about getting rewarded with campaign contributions or high office for Blago in return for giving someone the Senate appointment?
Using vile language and ruminating on selling a Senate seat may be sins, but they are not necessarily crimes. Moreover, there is evidence Blago may have been engaged in boastful beer talk and little more.