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On Harry’s Hindsight

Sure, Harry Reid has managed to trap himself now on the subject of Roland Burris, and is getting a lot of criticism for it. But how many of you saw his dilemma coming? At the time the Blagojevich scandal broke, did Reid and the Democrats really have any choice but to distance themselves as much as possible, and assert flatly that they wouldn’t seat anyone that he nominated? Did they really have any reason to expect that a quasi-credible candidate like Roland Burris would actually accept Blagojevich’s nomination (as opposed to someone like, say, Patti Blagojevich?)

I think Reid can be criticized for one thing — for failing to advocate for a special election. But even if the Democrats had made a more earnest push to hold a special election, that would still have provided for the possibility that Blagojevich would attempt to nominate someone in the meantime. What were they supposed to have said? “You know Rod, we really have no legal grounds to block your nominee, so please pretty please with a cherry on top don’t do it?”

Nate Silver founded and was the editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.