Republicans, Burris, and Blago

REPUBLICANS, BURRIS, AND BLAGO…. It’s likely that the initial response from Senate Democrats to the Roland Burris appointment was driven, at least in part, by appearances. Reid & Co. didn’t want Republicans to be able to attack them as tolerant of corruption, so Dems took a hard line.

Now, of course, that hard line is giving way to Burris’ likely success in joining the Senate. And what do Republicans have to say about this? Not a whole lot.

Jon Kyl, last week, announced his belief that Burris’ appointment was apparently legal and should be accepted by the Senate. Roll Call reports today that Republicans don’t really have any interest at all in blocking Burris, and even National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) said he’s “inclined to seat him.”

I mention this for two reasons. One, Burris joining the Senate now appears to be a near-certainty. And two, because Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) of Iowa, who said yesterday that Burris has “got a perfect right to have that seat,” pivoted to an absurd Blagojevich-related attack against Eric Holder, Barack Obama’s Attorney General nominee.

“[Eric Holder] was a counsel or at least Governor Blagojevich had sought to have him involved with something with race tracks in Illinois and casinos, I think. And so we’re trying to get freedom of information on that because we need to know what the relationship is with Governor Blagojevich. And I don’t say that in denigrating in any way except Governor Blagojevich’s recent troubles raises questions with anybody that’s had a relationship with him…. [I]t’s not going to be smooth sailing.”

In reality, Blagojevich tried to hire Holder for some independent state review a few years back. The governor screwed up the process, Holder went back to D.C, and the two had no further connection. This, according to Grassley, should detract from Holder’s nomination.

So, let’s review. If Blagojevich picks an official to fill a Senate vacancy that he was trying to sell, Chuck Grassley thinks that official is fine. If Blagojevich unsuccessfully tried to hire a lawyer for a state review, this constitutes a “relationship,” which “raises questions.”

Obama and the Democratic leadership on the Hill seem to genuinely believe they can work cooperatively with congressional Republicans. I have a hunch Republicans aren’t going to make this easy.