This is a sickening display--especially Bobby Rush's invocation of God. Rush\Blago\Burris's race argument is rather incredible. I've been thinking about this for awhile as a political move. It strikes as a kind of suicide bomb. Blago is going down. Burris has nothing to lose. And Rush has never been on great terms for Obama. It's very easy, as a young black person, to be really angry about this move. Trust me, the old generational anguish is stewing in the heart of a lot of young black Chicago folks this morning. More on that later.
My immediate reaction is that Rush is overplaying his hand. He's basically arguing that a pol should fear the black backlash should they oppose Burris's appointment. But there's one problem with that logic--Barack Obama is on the other side of the table. Rush's logic basically asks politicians to chose between the will of a corrupt governor, and the will of the first black president of the United States. I don't know, but it would seem that now would be a good time for Obama to flex some muscle and make it clear that folks support this move at their peril. I really, really, really hope the CBC doesn't back this move. But I wouldn't be surprised if they did.
It's wrong to say that this is a move to appeal to black voters, because it isn't--it's a dogwhistle for a certain sector of the black vote, an older portion of the commuity that was responsive to Rush's charges against Obama, that is still angry past injustices, and is deeply distrustful of all this "change" hooey. This is--to paraphrase Chris Rock--the an appeal to the "Cracker-Ass-Cracker" vote. I suspect that this move will be divisive even among black folks. Certainly there will be Blago apologists and political cynics. And there will be people, likely still angry over Jeremiah Wright, who will rally. But there will also be that section of black folks who will this for the ugly pandering that it is.
I'd remind folks that Blago--who once had strong support in Illinois' black community--now has a 32 percent approval rating among black voters. That's higher than the overall state numbers--but when you consider just having a D in front your name gets you a baseline of support among black folks, it's still really really low. People expecting a rather reflexive black backlash should remember Sarah Palin. The old CW was that Palin would rally women, angry at Obama over Hillary's loss. How'd that work out?
I'm not saying I know which way this will swing. Chicago's an old-school town, for which I have a deep, abiding affection. But the "Cracker Ass Cracker" contingent in black America is still strong. But Corey Booker did win. Anthony Williams served two terms. Adrian Fenty won. Who knows what will happen here.