December 31, 2008

THE CBS FOLKS SEND THIS TRANSCRIPT of Bobby Rush on The Early Show, discussing Blagojevich’s appointment of Roland Burris to fill Barack Obama’s seat.

MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ, co-host: We’re joined now also from Chicago by Congressman Bobby Rush, whom you just heard from in the piece. Good morning, Congressman.

Representative BOBBY RUSH (Democrat, Illinois): Good morning, Maggie. How are you?

RODRIGUEZ: I’m fine, thank you. Yesterday we heard you say that they shouldn’t hang and lynch the appointee to punish the appointer. But do you believe that this is the way the only African-American Senator should be seated? Tainted, rightly or not, by a scandal and against the objections of most of his own party?

Rep. RUSH: Well, let me just say this, you know, the recent history of our nation has shown us that sometimes there could be individuals and there could be situations where school children–where you have officials standing in the doorway of school children. You know, I’m talking about all of us back in 1957 in Little Rock, Arkansas. I’m talking about George Wallace, Bull Connors and I’m sure that the US Senate don’t want to see themselves placed in the same position. I know my friend Harry Reid…

RODRIGUEZ: But it’s not just the Senate, Congressman. It’s Barack Obama who is African-American also who disagrees with this.

Rep. RUSH: Well, I think what needs–what needs to happen now is that all these folks who are opposed to Governor Blagojevich, they need to take a chill pill. We’re still a nation of laws and I believe that Roland Burris and Governor Blagojevich, they’re on solid constitutional grounds in terms of them being–of him being selected. I think that the US Senate will have to accept him. Let me just say this, you know, the real political tragedy, the real political issue, the moral issue that we face is why in the US Senate there are no African-Americans? There are two Asians, three Latinos, 11 women, but no African-Americans. And I just must applaud the people of the state of Illinois because in the last 150 years, we have sent two of the three African-Americans to the Senate over a period of 150 years. Now something is really, really wrong with that. So are you saying is this–is this…

RODRIGUEZ: But shouldn’t Governor–let me interrupt you for a minute and ask you this.

Rep. RUSH: Yes.

RODRIGUEZ: Shouldn’t Governor Blagojevich maybe have given Roland Burris the chance to go in as the only African-American senator in a legitimate way that everyone would approve of?

Rep. RUSH: Well…

RODRIGUEZ: Is he being selfish here by appointing him this way? By remaining so defiant?

Rep. RUSH: Well, you know, he has the constitutional responsibility as governor of the state of Illinois to appoint. The General Assembly met a week or so ago, they passed the buck, they shifted, they punted, they did not declare a special election. Let me just say this. On January the 20th, President-elect Obama wants on his desk the Congress to deliver to him a stimulus package, hundreds of millions of dollars, and the people of the state of Illinois should not be deprived of a representative in the US Senate to be at the table to help decide where that money should go.

RODRIGUEZ: All right.

Rep. RUSH: We have many other issues and I just think that it is incumbent upon the US Senate and President Reid and others to make sure that Illinois is not short-changed as it relates to representation.

RODRIGUEZ: OK, Congressman Rush.

Looks like we’ll have fun in the new year. Plus, “President Reid?” I know it’s just a verbal stumble, but don’t scare me like that.

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