Who is Roland Burris?
The fight over whether or not Rod Blagojevich has the right and political capital to shoehorn a lobbyist into the United States Senate is not just a battle over President-elect Obama's seat but a battle for the soul of Washington.
It's reminiscent of George W. Bush's recent rescinded pardons of two men who'd contributed money to both his campaign and the Republican National Committee. The NY Times, as with so many other MSM outlets, has shied away from using the word "lobbyist" in connection with Roland Burris, preferring to call him a "consultant" but the fact is Burris' "consulting firm" had benefited to the tune of $290,000 in contracts from the Blagojevich administration. He'd also contributed $20,000 to the current Governor's last campaign.
If this was a crime scene (and it could very well prove to be one) this would be considered the perfect delineation of Locard's Exchange Principle, the theory that, in the commission of a crime, some minute evidence is passed between perpetrator and victim. It also goes to show the sheer rot and cynicism that seems to define Chicago politics even moreso than politics at a federal level.
That level of cynicism reached its apex when, at Blago's press conference announcing his appointment of Burris, he'd trotted out another black man, Bobby Rush, an Illinois lawmaker and former Black Panther to not only endorse Burris but to even use inflammatory language such as the word "lynch."
No, no race card being drawn here, folks, unless the flip side of that card is shown when Senate Democrats oppose Burris' attempted appointment. In other words, the ball's in your court, Washington. It's the very height of hubris and immature political gamesmanship and Blagojevich should be mounting his legal defense instead of playing chicken with the United States Senate.
So who is Roland Burris?
Burris had just two and a half weeks ago suggested himself for the Senate while at the same time united with Madigan in calling for Blagojevich's resignation.
Yet since then he has no problem accepting a Senate seat from the same man whom Burris had said at the time faced evidence that was "appalling." Sorry, Roland. I would think, as Illinois's former Attorney General and a career politician, that you'd know having a relatively clean record (if such a thing is even a remote possibility in Illinois) in a unique case such as this simply isn't enough.
And if the United States Senate doesn't successfully oppose this attempted appointment, it will send a clear-cut message to the people that monetary incestuousness really is the way things are done in Washington, that if enough money exchanges hands enough times it will eventually solidify into a seat in the US Senate or a pardon from the President. That it's perfectly acceptable to force into the higher chamber a lobbyist registered in both Illinois and Washington, DC.
Which is, of course, true enough. But they ought to at least take the pains to make it look less obvious.