Friday, December 12, 2008

Understanding Speaker Madigan

Contrary to bored now's essay below, neither Attorney General Madigan nor House Speaker Madigan are holding up impeachment of Rod Blagojevich.

In fact, at her press conference today after filing a motion in the Illinois Supreme Court, Attorney General Madigan called on the Legislature to move forward with impeachment.

I know that in today's world of ATM's and instant news, some folks are a little impatient that its been three full days since Rod Blagojevich was taken into custody and he still hasn't been lynched in the town square...

...and that three days seems like a long time. But there are sound reasons for taking just a little bit of time to get impeachment right. If not in this case, then for future cases, and because in a democracy overturning the results of an election and removing a statewide elected official from public office should be done soberly.

Its the same reason we have cooling off periods for buying guns or getting a divorce.

Many folks have a pretty cynical view of Michael Madigan and his motivations. In today's environment, its tough to trust any elected official in Illinois, and "shrewd" is one word which aptly describes him.

But so is "principled", and one of the principles to which Madigan holds himself as Speaker of the Illinois House is that he has a responsibility to be a good steward of both the Illinois House and the Legislative Branch as institutions.

Consider, he has already distinguished himself as the longest-serving legislative leader in Illinois history, and unless someone corrects me I believe he is currently the longest-serving legislative leader in the country. While he owes his longevity to his shrewdness, I think he also feels an unquestioned responsibility.

It was with that sense of responsibility that he dedicated himself in 1997 to try to reduce some of the partisan rancor in the Illinois House: naming Republicans to committee chairmanships, ending much of the partisan gamesmanship that killed minority bills out of spite or just for kicks, and trying to instill the chamber with a renewed sense of cooperation.

Its with that sense of responsibility that he has fought so tirelessly to defend the Legislature from attempts by Governor Blagojevich to expand his Executive Powers, especially where they encroached on the Legislature's Constitutional authorities.

I think that off the record, most House Republicans would tell you that they'd rather have Michael Madigan as Speaker than their own leader, Tom Cross; after all, it was Cross who was so eager to cut deals with Rod Blagojevich while Madigan stood his ground, often alone and often in the face of public criticism.

I think we all can see now why Michael Madigan wasn't to eager to cut a deal with Rod Blagojevich.

Don't get me wrong...I want to see Blagojevich impeached, and I'd like them to start on Monday.

But I also know that for the last five years, the press has been feeding the public a Rod Blagojevich v. Michael Madigan story that casts it as a battle of personalities, where everything Madigan does is personally motivated. And the public has been eating it up.

And I feel certain that if Speaker Madigan had led the impeachment charge, or said or did anything that made it appear that he was too eager to remove Blagojevich from office, Blagojevich or the press would have tried to return us to that old personal narrative, which would taint the process and the legislature.

I mean, despite the public outrage, despite Rod Blagojevich's obvious incapacity to continue to carry out the duties of his office, our state's Attorney General was asked atleast three times about her personal political ambitions at her press conference today. What do you think would have happened if Speaker Madigan had held a press conference Tuesday or Wednesday calling for Rod's impeachment?

Michael Madigan's been leading the Illinois House for 23 of the last 25 years, and doing a pretty good job by my account. Unlike Rod Blagojevich, he doesn't govern by press conference or press release, but then counting ledes is not the best way to measure leadership. Let the guy do his job.


bored now 1:16 PM  

just in case you misunderstood my argument, i'm not claiming that there's some sort of conspiracy, or that the attorney general or speaker are bad people. i doubt any of us here have forgotten that the speaker distributed impeachment talking points to democratic candidates during the course of the campaign. or that there have been democrats working on impeachment for quite awhile.

there was no good reason for the speaker to hold up this special session until monday. in the middle of a crime spree, one doesn't delay with stopping the crime spree, one acts as fast as humanly possible.

the speaker did not do that. and unless you are attempting to argue that the speaker and our indicted governor were fast friends, and he was doing rod a favor, it would appear that the speaker's interest in helping his daughter get in front of the credit-taking curve is the simplest explanation.

personally, i think the speaker (and the attorney general) have acted rationally. i just don't think they have acted in the best interests of the state. i don't even think the best interests of the state were part of their calculation. nothing you have said here alters that conclusion, in my mind.

but i'm certainly open to a better explanation...

Cal Skinner 1:39 PM  

You are certainly correct that Lisa is not taking her father off the impeachment hook with her Supreme Court filing.

Bill Baar 2:49 PM  

...because in a democracy overturning the results of an election and removing a statewide elected official from public office should be done soberly.

Thanks for bringing a little sobriety to this Bethany.

Instead of the rush to declare the Gov insance, I'd rather see some reflection and some apologies from those who endoresed him in 2002 and 2006 and knew plenty well what wsa going on.

Yellow Dog Democrat 3:54 PM  

bored now ~ your "simple" explanation requires characterizing the Speaker's actions. Here's a more simple explanation:

- Calling 187 members of the legislature to Springfield takes time;

- Drafting legislation and/or an impeachment resolution takes time;

- We have a five day posting requirement for committee hearings in Illinois;

In addition to all of the other reasons I mentioned.

Would rather the legislature had reconvened on Wednesday, with no legislation in hand, many members absent because of the short notice, and no consensus between the legislative leaders on how to proceed?

I think a delay of a few days that prevents a circus and gives everyone time to get their ducks in a row, so that we can move forward as a state -- with no partisanship, no political one-up-manship, is appropriate.

Moreover, I think the fact that the Attorney General has asked for the Supreme Court to temporarily remove the Governor, deferring to the Legislature as the ultimate authority on his permanent removal from office (as Judge Mikva stated in her press conference), shows that there is no effort by the AG or the Speaker to thrust her into the limelight. Instead, she has acted prudently to rein Rod in while the Legislature takes the needed time to act.

And, frankly, your insinuation that her actions today or Speaker Madigan's are somehow politically motivated undermine those very efforts, to Rod Blagojevich's benefit.

So do Illinois a favor, and stop doing Rod's P.R. work for him.

bored now 4:16 PM  

oh, cut the crap. everything the speaker does has a political motivation.

typically, i would assume that his political motivations also include what he thinks is best for the state. you seem to be suggesting that the speaker thinks leaving Blagojevich in office is what's best for the state -- something that is, at best, laughable.

fritchey has legislation ready to go, from what i hear. the house can sit as a committee of the whole. are you suggesting that the speaker is unaware of this? (if that's the case, perhaps *he* needs to resign.) and since we've heard that every other leader (besides madigan) is eager to get on with it, you again leave us with the impression that daddy is holding up action so that the spotlight will shine on his little girl.

this is the problem with illinois politics. given its legacy of corruption, its legacy of political nepotism and its legacy of the concentration of power in the hands of a few has left those few with the impression that what is best for them is what is best for illinois.

that is, if they're even giving consideration to what is best for illinois. i got no problem with the simultaneous pursuit of every available means to dislodge the governor. the speaker hardly seems inclined to agree. the way you talk, should we know expect to be hung with the albatross of political scandal hanging over us for the next two years?

because, you know, that would definitely help lisa's gubernatorial ambitions. this is really sick...

Anonymous,  10:36 AM  

I don't madigan was standing up to blagojevich when he chaired his campaign. this revisionist history is fascinating, but not accurate.

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