An Intrusive Spotlight on Leadership

A few days ago, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Harry Reid phoned Rod Blagojevich in early December to discuss the vacant Senate seat that Blagojevich was about to fill by appointment. In the conversation, according to the paper, the Senate majority leader made it clear that he would rather U.S. Representatives Jesse Jackson Jr. and Danny Davis and State Senate President Emil Jones not be appointed.

On Sunday, Reid appeared on “Meet the Press” and, not surprisingly, tried to downplay the report, branding it “part of Blagojevich’s cloud.”

“He’s making all this up,” Reid insisted. “I had a conversation with him. I don’t remember what was in the conversation, other than the generalities that I just talked about. I didn’t tell him who not to appoint.”

Asked if he has always considered Jackson an “acceptable” choice for the appointment, Reid replied that “Jesse Jackson Jr. is somebody that I think would be a good senator.”

These comments left plenty of wiggle room, and very intentionally so. Note, for instance, that Reid merely said that Jackson would be a “good” senator. That is not the same thing as saying Jackson would have been a “good” appointment, because one can perform all of the official functions of a senator (floor votes, committee work, etc.) quite well without being a strong candidate for re-election. Reid, it seems, stepped around the question of Jackson’s electoral prospects, which were supposedly at the heart of his call to Blagojevich.

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An Intrusive Spotlight on Leadership