Circus Maximus plays the palace the palace being the governors mansion in Springfield, IL. For a man who doesnt know how to keep his mouth shut, embattled Illinois Governor Lightening Rod Blagojevich (D) is a shrewd genius for his selection of Roland W. Burris to become the Land of Lincolns junior senator. Yes, genius, as the choice of Burris, 71, deflects Blagojevichs legal and political troubles while turning the selection into a commentary on race.
Simply enough, Blagojevichs infusion of race into the appointment of Burris now forces the Democratic majority of the U.S. Senate into a veritable Sophies Choice: accept the pick by a tainted appointer (Blagojevich), or reject the potentially only black member of that body. And thats what makes an otherwise imbecilic Blagojevich a shrewd genius. Sure, hes on his way out of the governors house and into the big house for, among other alleged misdeeds, attempting to sell Barack Obamas Senate seat.
Auctioning it to the highest bidder seems more accurate. But before leaving the governors mansion, seemingly by force rather than choice, Blagojevich apparently wants to make his last work memorable.
Yet, Democrats nationwide, led by Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, called upon Blagojevich to not fill the vacancy left by Obama. They, along with a number of key Illinois Democrats, have called for Blagojevichs resignation in order to avoid the inevitable impeachment battle that will only further solidify Illinois as one of the most politically corrupt states in the nation in any era of American history. Should Blagojevich find himself behind bars, he could share a cell with his predecessor
George Ryan (R), currently serving six and one half years for corruption.
Additionally, Dan Walker (D), governor from 1973 to 1977 served a year and a half of a seven year sentence in the fun house on charges of bank fraud, misapplication of funds and perjury. Before Walker, Otto Kerner (D), governor from 1961 to 1968 spent less than a year of a three year sentence in the gray-bar hotel having been convicted of bribery and tax evasion as well as arranging favorable horse racing dates in return for getting horse racing association stock at reduced prices. And just for kicks, throw in William Stratton (R), governor from 1953 to 1961, indicted on charges of income tax evasion, but acquitted.
Blagojevich said he would not make this appointment and now theres a shadow cast over him, said Illinois Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn (D) of the governors pick. Hes contradicting himself, has unclean hands, should be replaced and convicted with speed and removed from office by the Illinois Senate. Hes not fit to serve, continued Quinn, who as governor would have the constitutional authority to select Obamas successor.
With the selection of Burris, however, Senate Democrats find themselves in the untenable situation of actually not seating him and suffering the wrath of the ignorant. So, lets deal with the 800 pound elephant or in this case jackass in the room. Yes, this is about race. No, this is not about race.
Either way, this is not about Roland Burris a man who on any other day would more than likely sail right through the Senate doors and take what could be his rightful place in Obamas former seat.
Politics aside, Burris has been a solid, long-time public servant in Illinois becoming the first black candidate elected to statewide office serving as comptroller from 1979 to 1991, then garnering the post as attorney general, serving in that capacity from 1991 to 1995.
However, Burris suffered several electoral setbacks, thus as a perennial runner-up, when offered the Senate seat, he could hardly turn it down. Or could he?
Burris was not the first person Blagojevich attempted to appoint. U.S. Representative Danny Davis (D) rejected Blagojevichs offer saying I thought the environment had been poisoned. Additionally, rumors swirled around U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D) as to his being asked to serve.
On the one hand, this is not about race because there is no such thing as a black Senate seat, despite the injection of such an idea from U.S. Representative Bobby Rush (D), the former Black Panther and current hypocritical member of Congress. Hypocritical because on December 9 Rush said that in no way should Blagojevich be charged with the responsibility of appointing the next Illinois Senator, as any appointment would be tainted. Yet, on December 30, Rush applauded the choice of Burris and turned the already circus-like atmosphere into one of a full blown racial carnival.
In spite of Rushs guilt trip, and clearly he played the guilt card hand-in-hand with the race card, even the liberal Washington Post would not fall for such shenanigans. The Post called the Burris pick a tainted choice in Illinois, in the headline of its December 31 editorial. No one selected by Mr. Blagojevich can take the office with any legitimacy, said the editorial with pleas for the governors resignation.
Even Obama, who supported Burris over Blagojevich in the 2002 Democratic gubernatorial primary, and has no problem with Burris as an eventual U.S. Senator, has called upon Blagojevich to resign and allow for his successor to make the appointment.
Despite Rushs best or worst efforts, clear thinking people will realize this is not about race, nor is this about Burris or any other potential appointee black, white or brown. This is about honesty, integrity and clean hands making an appointment that passes the smell test. The U.S. Senate would be right to deny any Blagojevich appointee a seat amongst their ranks. Such denial would be the first since 1947 when Theodore Bilbo (D-MS) was refused his seat due to corruption. Once Illinois cleans its own house, then they can add to the nations upper house. Until then, taint right.