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My Beef With Burris

Get out the chisel and add another line to the mausoleum, right above “first African-American exchange student to Hamburg University in Germany from Southern Illinois University in 1959.” Roland Burris is going to be a senator.

I’m resigned to that sad fact. It was predictable the moment Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) slapped down the race card at the press conference announcing Burris’s appointment. There’s one thing you can count on in the U.S. Senate -- certainly among Democrats in the U.S. Senate: confronted with insinuations of racism, this bunch of white guys will fold faster than Rod Blagojevich can rake in campaign contributions from state contractors.

If Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid can think more than one chess move ahead, he certainly didn’t demonstrate it on this one. He got all his Democratic colleagues to sign a letter to Blagojevich “to insist that you step down as Governor of Illinois and under no circumstance make an appointment to fill the vacant Illinois Senate seat.” Then he issued a preemptive statement, just before the Burris announcement, warning Blagojevich that his appointee, “as we have said, will not be seated by the Democratic Caucus.” Until, of course, he is.

But my bigger beef is with Burris.

Since his elevation from failed politician obscurity, the attitude of the soon-to-be junior senator from Illinois has been that the legal and ethical travails of Blagojevich have absolutely nothing to do with him. I don’t buy that, but fine -- let’s accept Burris’s view. If he’s so independent and disconnected from any indebtedness to Blagojevich, why doesn’t he believe, along with President-elect Obama and every single one of his new Democratic colleagues, that Blagojevich should resign, in the wake of his arrest on grounds of trying to sell Obama’s Senate seat and his impeachment by the Illinois House.

“Well, that is not really my purview to state,” Burris told MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski the other day. “He stated he's not going to resign, so therefore my comment when everybody's calling for him to resign, he's not done that. And if he -- remember now, you're innocent until you're proven guilty in our society. And based on that, I think he's making his decision based on what leverage he think he may have. But him and his problems are in no way imputed to me.”

Brzezinski, God bless her, didn’t let up.

Brzezinski: “But I am wondering what your opinion is in terms of what's best for voters, for constituents? Would it be better for the state if he resigns?"

Burris: “Well, in terms of all of the consternation, I am not -- as I said, that's his choice.”

Well, if that isn’t a profile in courage. The man is on tape, for goodness’ sake, talking about how he could use the Senate seat as leverage to get a cushy job, a corporate board seat for his wife, an ambassadorship, or campaign cash, “up front, maybe.” Presuming innocence in a criminal court doesn’t require putting on blinders outside it. As Obama put it, “While Governor Blagojevich is entitled to his day in court, the people of Illinois are entitled to a functioning government and major decisions free of taint and controversy."

So Roland Burris, who represents the people of Illinois, after all, believes that it is “not really my purview” to say if he thinks Blagojevich should resign? Just one more bit of evidence that he has no business being a senator. Whether or not it’s in my purview to say so.

By Ruth Marcus  | January 14, 2009; 2:09 PM ET
Categories:  Marcus  | Tags:  Ruth Marcus  
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Next: Overnights Are Awkwardly Inexplicable


Haha, good article!

Posted by: ozpunk | January 14, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

You're surprised? Really? Really? I mean I support Burris for the position. I've enthusiastically voted for him every time I could, but he's still a politician. What politician you know--including Obama--would bite his benefactor's hand 5 min after the favor??? 10min maybe, but not 5min. The better answer would've been to say that the people of IL are represented in the impeachment process by the State legislature, not their Senate representatives.

Posted by: slysly77 | January 14, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who says their selection by a scummy governor to be a seat-filling senator was "ordained by the lord" is not fit to be a senator, oppointed or otherwise.

Posted by: | January 14, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

I disagree with the tenor and substance of the columnist's arguments against Roland Burris. This was always the logical compromise (the seating of an an elderly, placeholder without a whiff of scandal) between Blagojevich and the Democrats. To insist that Blagojevich resign and admit guilt was an unreasonable position, and never going to happen.

If race isn't the issue in the tarring of Roland Burris for accepting a legal appointment then answer this question. Would an elderly, retired Paul Simon (had he been alive) have been met with this response by the Senate, or a Bob Michel? The answer is clearly no. The Senate would have been deferential to his reputation in a way in which they clearly weren't to Roland Burris.

Posted by: bertcasa | January 14, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

"If race isn't the issue in the tarring of Roland Burris for accepting a legal appointment then answer this question. Would an elderly, retired Paul Simon (had he been alive) have been met with this response by the Senate, or a Bob Michel? The answer is clearly no. The Senate would have been deferential to his reputation in a way in which they clearly weren't to Roland Burris."

Okay, first of all, we don't know the answer to that question, because it didn't happen. The answer is not "clearly" no. Another prospective appointee, white or black, may have had more humility than Burris, who is shockingly, unbelievably arrogant. The issue was whether or not an appointment by a governor charged with political corruption should be accepted. Governor B was on tape trying to sell the Senate seat, so it's not surprising that the Senate would be skeptical of whoever received the nomination.

Posted by: Katya2 | January 14, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

I disagree with people who complain about Burris. It was obvious from the beginning that the appointment was going to be legal, because Blagojevich is still the governor. I'm sure that it is important to Blagojevich's defense on the corruption charges to appoint someone who did NOT "pay to play" because that makes it possible for the governor to argue that his words from the wiretaps are being misunderstood, supporting the argument by pointing to fact the the Senate seat ultimately went to someone who is well qualified and does not appear to have paid to play. As for Burris, he appears to be someone who has spent a long career pushing hard to get where he has been. (That's what you have to do to be "first African-American" to do everything listed on his resume.) He probably thinks it's funny to see various powers-that-be (guardians of the proverbial system) locked into a legally untenable position that he knows they're going to have to take back.

Posted by: Bob999 | January 14, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I don't know why you aren't amused. Blagojivich set up a gambit and the idiots, with Reid as their leader, took it. I guess they were too busy reading the polls to think. Burris has an excellent reputation and should be judged on that basis alone.

Posted by: alanshapiro | January 14, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Has any one noticed the eerie resemblance of Roland Burris to Cab Calloway? One of Calloway's hits was Minnie the Moocher which pretty well describes Blagojevich!

Posted by: jdrd58 | January 14, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Bushido2 | January 14, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Reed and the Senate did not have many options if they wanted to actually follow the law. They bluffed by saying they wouldn't seat Burris. Blagoiavich called their bluff while the IL congress didn't call a special election, so what is the Senate supposed to do. This wasn't a game of chess, it was a game of poker. Blagoiavich is taking everyone down with him and columinists like Marcus are more than happy to report the wreckage. Notice she gives no alternative that the Reed and the Senate should have followed...because there was none besides maybe not bluffing in the first place.

Posted by: mnander2727 | January 14, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

The man is a gigantic p*ssy. It's like somebody offering him a million dollars to suck some guy's c0ck, and he would accept it, too, saying, "I don't care, I got me a million dollars!"

Posted by: wangbang747 | January 14, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Burris is pretty much a nonentity; in two years, assuming the voters in Illinois will by that time be sick of him, Burris will be gone.

Posted by: Diogenes | January 14, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

I disagree with the tenor and substance of the columnist's arguments against Roland Burris. This was always the logical compromise (the seating of an an elderly, placeholder without a whiff of scandal) between Blagojevich and the Democrats. To insist that Blagojevich resign and admit guilt was an unreasonable position, and never going to happen.

If race isn't the issue in the tarring of Roland Burris for accepting a legal appointment then answer this question. Would an elderly, retired Paul Simon (had he been alive) have been met with this response by the Senate, or a Bob Michel? The answer is clearly no. The Senate would have been deferential to his reputation in a way in which they clearly weren't to Roland Burris.

Posted by: bertcasa

Whoa, there. I'm speaking as a Black man up front, so I'd like for you to take that in account. Now, I don't think race had anything to do with it. Did you forget that PE Obama was AGAINST Burris being seated at the beginning, in agreement with the Senate? Using this argument, I don't think ANYONE would've been acceptable no matter what color that person would've been. Also, Bobby Rush brought race into the picture to me to help distort and distract Gov. Blago's legal woes. I think Rush's move was idiotic, and a sort of dig at Obama, who he defeated several years ago for the spot Rush currently holds. The two men never have been friends, and from I understand, Rush supported Obama's opponent when Obama ran for the Senate, so I don't put much faith in Rush, period. If anyone put race on the table for political purposes, it's the governor himself. Burris allowed himself to be used, as well as selling out his principles just to get a Senate seat he knew he couldn't win on his own in an election just to add to his masoleum stone resume. Please.

Posted by: SGall23241 | January 14, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

This is a nothing article that really just rehashes nothing. One thing about Roland Burris is that he does not have political taint on him. He has served the State of Illinois honorably and is a good tax paying citizen in good standing.

It appears that you gossip types are always trying to taint someone. Mr. Burris is correct to state that Blagojevich is innocent until proven guilty. Mr. Burris was correct when he stated the Blagejevich possessed the legal right to pick him as U.S. Senator for the next two years.

If Burris' decision to except the nod for U.S. Illinois is so tainted, then I suppose that today when Gov. Blagojevich swore in the Illinois State Senate that is going to impeach is also tainted and that the only reason why state senators who represent every hamlet and both political parties in Illinois owe their allegiance to Blagojevich and that they will not impeach him.

I think the bigger picture here is that the National and local Media has attempted a LYNCHING in illinois. We Illinoians know that our U.S. Senate Seat is in good hands with Roland Burris for the next two years, whether he runs for the seat or not. Why don't you (columnist) go influence peddle somewhere else. Case Closed!!!!

Posted by: bela6351 | January 14, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

I have to post a response to bertcasa below. Paul Simon or Bob Michel would have turned down even a phone call from Blago, let alone a tainted Senate appointment.

Posted by: stvcar | January 14, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

I reject the unspoken premise that race is only an issue when someone other than a white person is involved.

Posted by: GeorgeSeals | January 14, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Roland Burris is a political opportunist, and that is the self-serving representation that the state of Illinois will receive. The same self-serving governance they received from Blagojevich. The only way to pierce Roland Burris' ego and remove his toothy smile is for Illinois to hold a special senate election after Blagojevich is removed from office. The Illinois voters deserve better than Roland Burris, they deserve to choose their own junior senator.

Posted by: sunrise2 | January 14, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

“He stated he's not going to resign, so therefore my comment when everybody's calling for him to resign, he's not done that. And if he -- remember now, you're innocent until you're proven guilty in our society. And based on that, I think he's making his decision based on what leverage he think he may have. But him and his problems are in no way imputed to me.”

Good God. He sounds just like GWB -- an inarticulate malapropist with appalling diction.

Posted by: kjohnson3 | January 14, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Well looka here! Ruth Marcus playing the race card but complaining that someone else did.

She's summed up his entire career to that of a failed politician and clearly indicated that if he were white, despite what the law says, he would not be a Senator.

I wonder has she ever written an article about Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, or Barack Obama that blasts them for not repeating what was said when it was politically expidient for them. Now she's holding Burris (another politician) to a different standard.

Obama showed us that you can be qualified for a position w/o being the affirmative action pick which Marcus seems to think Burris is.

If you're sad that he's a Senator. I'm sad that you, as a journalist, have such racist leanings.

Posted by: dcis1 | January 14, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Marcus is right for once, she has no business at all mouthing off about whether Burris is senator or not.

Her purvue is zilch. In other words,

Shut UP Marcus, you're a miserable third rate columnist in the failing Washington Post. Speaking of failing, both you and your paper are.

Undoubtedly Marcus' interest was a Jewish possible senator in the mix. AIPAC doesn't have enough to choose from in their

Posted by: whistling | January 14, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Nobody in Illinois with a functioning brain is happy that Burris is their new Senator. We all recognize Burris for the fool that he is, and the process of his appointment for the travesty that it is.

These posters above who accuse Marcus of racism are being silly. Was Jesse White being racist when he refused to sign the appointment? What about Barack Obama when he said that any appointment would be tainted?

Just admit that Burris is a lightweight who exploited a terrible situation for his own personal gain and then move on. There's no shame in being honest about what happened here.

Posted by: simpleton1 | January 14, 2009 5:24 PM | Report abuse

No business in the Senate? Of course you can not trust someone who will not join in a lynch mob. Who ever thought to leave it up to the Illinois legislature? What a novel idea.

Posted by: gary4books | January 14, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

As an african american i am very disappointed with rush's use of the race card and in burris for accepting the appointment. blago is tainted and i don't care whehter burris wants to comment or not he, burris, is tainted by assiciation. also blago is angry with the dems for not supporting him, so he is singlehandedly making sure that in 2010, the senate seat will go republican. burris lost the last five elections. and will lose this seat. his running around proclaiming that he was the "jr senator" smacked of egotism that i havn't seen since napoleon. BURRIS IS TAINTED. Other qualified african american candidates rightly turned down the appointment. burris is a disgrace and should not win the seat thru election

Posted by: owingsmillsnurse | January 14, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

It is very strange, really! Mr. Burris said what is well known, that he is not the member of Illinois senate, and it is not up to him to vote pro or against Blagoevich impeachment. Who, by the way, gave Mrs. Marcus the right to vote whether Burris should or should not be seated in the senate? The US senate leaders said that he would be seated. Does Mrs. Marcus has already been elevated to a position above Mr. Reid and Mr. Durbin? I have not noticed it. Who is she now to make such, I would say, at the very least, arrogant statement about Burris eligibility?

Posted by: aepelbaum | January 14, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

And, dear Mrs. Marcus, the man is really on tape, but who are the people on the other end of these conversation? And who are all politicians in US congress, who have been producing 99% of all bills with a lot of 'pork'? Just the hearing of Mrs. Clinton's confirmation produced a lot of additional evidence that qui-pro-quo was the main tool of her actions. The scale in her case is much bigger that in the case of Blagoevich. I think that this much is clear for everybody. So, why should Blagoevich become a scapegoat? Because bigger politicians wanted to pick him as one to organize the opec water for themselves. If you agree with it, Mrs. Marcus, as your current article indicates, you, sure, have no purview to judge Burris eligibility, as US senator, but also no purview to write widely read articles in Washington Post, have you not?

Posted by: aepelbaum | January 14, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

While the law was & is certainly on Mr Burris's side, it seems clear that the appearance of impropriety is not a consideration for him. Sure, Gov Blagojevich was legally entitled to make an appointment to the seat after his arrest, but who on earth would still pursue an appointment by him after the allegations were made public? That says a lot about Roland Burris, none of it flattering. Meanwhile in the Senate leadership, Sen Reid apparently didn't bother to check the rules before challenging Gov Blago with an unenforceable ultimatim. Race, while an appealing topic to pundits & journalists, is irrelevant in the face of the appropriate statutes: as long as he was still Gov, Blago had the power - and sole power - to appoint an individual to fill the Senate vacancy for IL. The Senate likewise has no power to reject such an appointment, if the candidate meets all the relevant criteria; which in this case, he does.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 14, 2009 5:54 PM | Report abuse

My advice to Internet Explorer server people and other people, who are always trying to steal ideas of my comments and post them under their own ID-s. I am, actually, always right, but I have been suffering a lot for my courage, talents, and wisdom. Stealing my opinions and my attitude, you, first of all and most of all, are stealing my punishments for such boldness and brightness. I am 100% sure that it is not what you want to steal, is it?

Posted by: aepelbaum | January 14, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, but to me this man seems like little more than a seat-warmer. I wish he had declined Blagojevich's offer. And I hope the voters will look for better talent when they get the opportunity in two years.

Posted by: Attucks | January 14, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse



"Negro" and "Balck Man"? Are you serious? The race card that has been dealt in America for hundred of years is called racism. This it the prevalent ploy. And your post is a clear example of it. You just played the "racist" card.

Posted by: hakafos44 | January 14, 2009 6:31 PM | Report abuse

I voted for Obama and I do hope with all my heart that he gets off with a fresh start with fresh energy and hope for all of us. But, try as I may, this one bothers me. I cannot honestly say "Confirm him so that he can get on with the work of fixing this mammoth mess." Isn't there anyone else out there with equal competence without a baggage? Woe is me, already!

Posted by: pelohoki | January 14, 2009 7:01 PM | Report abuse

The author: "If Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid can think more than one chess move ahead, he certainly didn’t demonstrate it on this one." How about the fact that President-elect Obama said that Burris should not be seated and then lamely backed down days later? You would have thought that the brilliant Constitutional Professor and Harvard Law Review President might have read the Ill. Constitution, known that a complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney against Blago and his being on bail did not disqualify the Governor from making the appointment. How about the Democrats in the legislature who pretended to be shocked, SHOCKED that Blago was allowed to do his job.
We are not in Chicago anymore Toto were are playing with the big boys. They should get it right from the start.

Posted by: mharwick | January 14, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

"Whit guys folding"! Indeed.

That is the reason that Reid and Pelosi need to be gone if the Democratic party is ever to get it's act together.

"Doing all the wrong things for all the right reasons" is their motto.

Posted by: buzzsaw1 | January 14, 2009 7:30 PM | Report abuse

I am not sure at this point that I even get why we need the Senate to begin with. Certainly it's not for the purpose of representing black people, that's obvious. But what the heck is it supposedly for? Is it like the lottery, just here to give people a hope to cling to — like maybe I could get lucky like this some day and get some job where I just like play the kazoo all day? What has the U.S. Senate done for America for the last long while? Anything? Is it useful?

When an automatic transmission starts making noise, sometimes a mechanic will put sawdust in there to quiet it down. To me the Senate these days is like that. Sawdust in the transmission fluid. It's like a Band-Aid where I don't even have a cut. Like ooh, that's working great.

I don't know. I guess I'm just disgusted. Maybe I should try to be amused.

Posted by: pressF1 | January 14, 2009 8:08 PM | Report abuse

he won't comment on the outcome of a case which has not yet even reached indictment?! is he aware that curse words were used by this so-called individual? now, if he were to equivocate on the morality of torture, that would be one thing. but we are talking about curse words here!

Posted by: miket000 | January 14, 2009 9:24 PM | Report abuse

another jew denigrating african americans. hopefully after obama gets in he can ask his 95% jewish west wing to go after these jewish print and TV reporters to stop the racist attacks on african americans!!

Posted by: 2xy4k9 | January 14, 2009 9:32 PM | Report abuse

"certainly among Democrats in the U.S. Senate: confronted with insinuations of racism, this bunch of white guys will fold faster than Rod Blagojevich can rake in campaign contributions from state contractors"

Mostly a good article: good ideas with good writing. However this one one of the tortured sentence constructions I have ever read.

Posted by: Oberfrobe | January 14, 2009 9:34 PM | Report abuse

I know Roland Burris, he's a good & decent man. Because he doesn't say what YOU think he should say doesn't mean he won't make a good senator. You are in a minority who would even think so say "God bless her" where Mika is concerned.

I am always amazed at people who get paid to do nothing more than push their subjective, one dimensional opinions.
Burris has a life time of public service. What have you done? That's what I thought. Nuff said.

Posted by: Nuts2U | January 14, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

I compliment Ruth on this piece. Her analysis is right on of both the lily livered Senators who folded like a cheap tent on this issue when confronted with the race card, and on her assessment of Burris. I don't have anything against Burris personally and maybe he was a fine public servant back in Illinois. But I take strong issue with his acceptance of this U.S. Senate seat from the likes of Blago. If he had any honor at all, he would have refused this appointment. Instead he allowed himself to be used by Blago who is still pretending to be a good and honorable governor when we all know better. The whole thing makes me sick, particularly the Senators who caved on this. It was my understanding that the Senate of the United States has the right under the constitution to judge the credentials of its own members. They shold have stood their ground and not allowed themselves to be intimidated by false and groundless insinuations of racism by Rush. This is "clearly" not a racial matter and "clearly" any nominee of Blago, white, black, yellow or red, would faced the same reaction.

Posted by: rcairo | January 14, 2009 11:08 PM | Report abuse

"If race isn't the issue in the tarring of Roland Burris for accepting a legal appointment then answer this question. Would an elderly, retired Paul Simon (had he been alive) have been met with this response by the Senate, or a Bob Michel? The answer is clearly no. The Senate would have been deferential to his reputation in a way in which they clearly weren't to Roland Burris."

Sorry, race is not an issue, another man with more dignity and common sense that Burris, and also black, rep. Danny Davis, had already rejected the offer from a corrupt governor. Paul Simon, Bob Michel, or any other politician with self-repect and an ounce of common sense, white, black or native american wouldn't have accepted the nomination. It just happened that Burris was dying to be a senator to the point that he had contacted Harris, (Blago chief of staff) well before the election, asking to be considered if Obama were elected. Don't forget that most of us, black, white, latino or native, have elected a black president who is going to be a great president.

Posted by: marabunta | January 15, 2009 12:22 AM | Report abuse

I hope the FBI will find out if Burris is "tainted." He has certainly built a monument to himself while being in the government for years. I heard he said he wanted to be on a committee that used lobbyists!! Do you know for sure that he did not pay for the seat or offer Blago something for it? No one knows. That is the problem with accepting something from someone with dirty hands. You throw suspicion on yourself. Your color does not matter!

Posted by: annnort | January 15, 2009 12:51 AM | Report abuse

You are spot o. Burris is a joke but an inconsequential one. the real joke is Harry Reid being Senate majority Leader. this is a man way out of his depth and in a position to destroy the Presidency of a person that athe American people in their astounding insight choose to elect.

The people of Illinois can impeach their Govenor. to bad the people of theUnited States cannot impeach the Senate Majority Leader.

Busiss did not have the good sense to decline the Senate appointment. Reid does not have the good sense to resign his majority leader postion

Posted by: jasonfelton1 | January 15, 2009 12:51 AM | Report abuse

Your real concern is that Burris isn't a blonde princess, like your favorite, Caroline Kennedy.

Posted by: Huey1 | January 15, 2009 1:04 AM | Report abuse

I am sad to say that I tend to agree with Ms. Marcus' question: "So Roland Burris, who represents the people of Illinois, after all, believes that it is “not really my purview” to say if he thinks Blagojevich should resign?"

The situation doesn't exactly scream that Burris' actions are mandated by his burning desire to right wrongs or to help provide the leadership our nation so desperately needs.

Rather, Burris' refusal to even acknowledge the taint Blago has left on Obama's Senate seat - a seat that begs to be filled with another highly-motivated and charismatic leader - merely whimpers:

"I want to be a Senator. Bad."

Posted by: ibsteve2u | January 15, 2009 2:01 AM | Report abuse

Ah, ibsteve2u, who does want to stay in retirement or more precisely in obscurity?
Burris had not been involved in any grand money making scandals in Illinois. So he did not have money to go through with his numerous attempts to run for high level political office. The opportunity fell into his lap. Show me just anybody, who would refuse such opportunity, being in his shoes! Who, in general, would refuse any similar opportunity to get out of his/her obscurity? That is why this article is hypocritical and very pretentious to say the least.

Posted by: aepelbaum | January 15, 2009 2:48 AM | Report abuse

So, democrats, including Obama, got united to crucify Blagoevich. The latter one is obviously, though not innocent, but still a scapegoat. Instead of this activity to demonstrate the unification and high ethics, they (democrats) should be unified in the real attempts to save this country's economy and statehood. It does not seem that they are either interested or simply capable to do it.

Posted by: aepelbaum | January 15, 2009 3:49 AM | Report abuse

Lot of barking and what else.
In good old days it was said ' barking dogs seldom bite'.
so it is today
we are living in some kind of good old days,
why bother
Blagojevich had the last laugh, and
may be Burris.
everybody else got a kick on their butt.
all said and done it was a lot of fun.

Posted by: dvsikka | January 15, 2009 4:28 AM | Report abuse

I think you're way off base here. I would respect Burris less if he denounced Blagojovich now. After all, Blago used his one silver bullet to make Burris a Senator. The least he can do is stay out of the issue of lynching Blago. It takes only a minimal amount of loyalty to stay out of this issue, as the guy hasn't even been indicted yet. No senator worth their salt would be THAT disloyal - it's just not the way the game is played. I'm surprised you would expect it. I know you're not a senator, but you've seen them on TV, right?

As far as the appointment, either it's proper for the governor to appoint a successor for an empty senate seat or not. I think it's stupid to grant the governor this much power. This entire fiasco is an extreme example of why, but the same process will be used in NY, with a similarly flawed result: someone who would not have otherwise been the top choice for the seat will likely be appointed.

I suppose the bigger reason for your disappointment must be in the Democratic leadership. They danced around this entire issue like a bunch of clowns, but ultimately Burris was the puppet master here. It doesn't say much for their judgement, at a time when we need them at their best. They really earned their approval rating on this one. If there were term limits, I think we'd be seeing some new faces at the next election.

Posted by: postfan1 | January 15, 2009 5:03 AM | Report abuse

Yes...Bobby Rush's comments were pretty vile. Yes...Roland Burris seems to have some ego issues. That he's chosen not to join the Witch Hunters' Chorus, however, recommends him to me.

Blago's future will not be determined by outraged politicians or pundits. It will be decided by the Illinois Legislature and the U.S. Circuit Court. The frenzied demands for his resignation ignore our legal system which a) entitles everyone to his/her day in court and b) presumes innocence until guilt is proven.

Annoying as it may be, Blago's not leaving until the Legislature and/or Court force him out. At this point, demanding that he be condemned or that he resign is simply posturing and a capacity for meaningless posturing shouldn't be a test of any public servant's worthiness.

Posted by: BrooklynDemocrat | January 15, 2009 6:35 AM | Report abuse

I sense an attitude here of a superior being. If we held all politicians to the standards we want to hold Burris we will end up with a minority. Mika or any other Village gasbag can pontificate as much as she/he wants. But politicians are as prone to comprising themselves as have journalists during the Bush Era and of course our good friends on Wall Street. Haven't heard you hold Robert Rubin to account: but the damage he has done is far greater than anything Burris can or is able to do. Let's get our priorities right.

Posted by: bitterpill81 | January 15, 2009 7:05 AM | Report abuse

Nuts2u, dcis1, katya2,whistling. None of you make much sense. Try doing more reading to exercise your brain.

The Dem Sens sure did a turn around which throws the proverbial egg on their faces. They supposedly feared that Burris would/could not be elected in southern Illinois? But Carol Moseley Braun and Barrack Obama won Senate seats in Illinois??

Then Bobby Rush does a turnaround and plays the race card. Every time someone is against an African American does not mean that they are racist or that they want someone (Jewish) from their ethnic group. I think people should be careful that they are not attributing their own motivations and prejudices to others.

Re Paul Simon or Bob Michel compared to Roland Burris is irrelevant apples and oranges. You lack logic.

Posted by: GerriM | January 15, 2009 7:12 AM | Report abuse

Reminds me of black Ethiopeans trying to settle in the 'ancient homeland'. Racism is no option for any citizen, and it disgraces journalists of whatever Lobby.

Posted by: jnyren1 | January 15, 2009 7:28 AM | Report abuse

IMHO, Ms Marcus has got it all wrong. Burris is doing exactly what cagey older pols have always done. That is to say, to say nothing really definitive on issues that you wish to side step. The interesting thing is the Burris is right! The governor seems to be still in office. Perhaps because there is no law in that state (or many, if not all others) that specifically forces an office holder to suspend his duties while under indictment. Since Blagojovich is not suspended, why not take the appointment? For a fellow like Burris, it IS a great honor, one that Lincoln himself wished for and did not achieve.

So we have a senator who ducks and who takes the easy path. If this were a disqualification, we could never achieve a quorum.

Senator Vitter just came out against the second half TARP fund release. After his recent peccadillo, can we say that Burris, who seems untainted in this regard, (hold on for further discoveries, I can’t say I know anything except that human nature seems to be a great source from which to anticipate further information) is at least a legitimate a representative of a higher plane than Vitter.

Posted by: mholtwi | January 15, 2009 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Ruth, you are quite simply wrong.

Seigelman, Spitzer, Richardson, Blagojevich..all democrat governors, all under investigation... when are you gonna get curious about it? Nine State's Attorneys fired for refusing to participate.... aren't your bells ringing?

If we are a nation of laws, if we expect for ourselves to be considered innocent until proved guilty, we must concede it for others.

It was wrong for the prosecutor to stand up and claim that Blagojevich's crimes would make Abraham Lincoln roll over in his grave. That kind of circus atmosphere is just too flippant for serious investigations and serious crimes. What crimes? So far we've seen nothing that is a crime....disgusting, yes, impeacheable, perhaps.... but not a prosecutable crime so far.

It was wrong to go public with it and then ask for 3 months to do an indictment... what? You think Blagojevich is talking on a phone or in a room anywhere now?

It was wrong for ANYONE - including Democrats to attempt to strip the Governor of some of his rights and duties without stripping him of all of them... they didn't have any standing to do that, Reid didn't have standing to refuse to seat Burris, Secy of State White did not have standing to refuse to certify Burris.

The simple fact is that Blagojevich has the duty to appoint a successor, and he did.

Rolland Burris is quite a deal. Integrity above reproach, a trailblazer for blacks in Illinois, the first state wide elected black official - ever. A dedicted, esteemed public servant that may not generate lots of applause and spotlights, but he's rock solid, and Illinois is quite proud of him.

Posted by: dutchess2 | January 15, 2009 8:17 AM | Report abuse

Nuts2u, dcis1, katya2,whistling.

Ok - its not a race card.

So comments about what someone wants on their tombstone are done routinely?

Harry Reid had constitutional standing to say he would not seat any representative sent to him by any Governor? Or just this one? He does not have constitutional standing to refuse, and if that ever happens, the people's voice will be silenced in behalf of whatever political party holds the chair. You know this.

Secy of State White did not have constitutional authority to refuse to certify a Governor's choice, for the very same reason.

Blagojevich is under investigation, he's not indicted even yet.

Innocent until proved guilty.. people don't understand that you gotta live by that or not - there's nothing in between..

So what one thing-- in your mind-- would make all those diverse groups of people stand up and discount Rolland Burris despite all the rights and reasons they should not have done so?

Posted by: dutchess2 | January 15, 2009 8:33 AM | Report abuse

Ruthie - just my personal opinion....

What someone puts on their tombstone is their business. You can like it or lump it... its their right, their money.

I resent it all to h--- that you are so curlish with the nasty about it Rolland Burris's choice. You and others have ranked it right up there with the watermelon and fried chicken, and we have not failed to notice.

Posted by: dutchess2 | January 15, 2009 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Ruth, I don't much mind Burris. He will not block Obama's economic plan and that is frankly for me and most I know, Republican and Democrat alike, what matters most. What I am up in arms about is Harry Reid. You are quite right about the Senator. Strategy is not his forte. (Backroom dealing probably) Over the last few years he has demonstrated really poor judgement on many issues. In addition as the face of the Senate he presents a rather soft and bumbling image. Add a large measure of hubris and it is time for him to go. He is truly not a man for the 21st century. Leader until 2015? I think not.

Posted by: tarryh | January 15, 2009 8:46 AM | Report abuse

On November 20th, a convicted felon named Ted Stevens went before the entire Senate and was given a a standing ovation. Senate business was delayed because so many Senators wanted to give glowing speeches about the felon. I think any "profiles in courage" problems you have with Senators should start right there.

Posted by: flounder2 | January 15, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

A sad part, is the fact that this person is going to be entitled to a life long pension from the government for two (2) measly years of questionable service to our country.

Posted by: clubhaus | January 15, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

This "race card business" is nonsense. Politicians on both sides of the aisle have "played the race card" over the years. The most egregious was Nixon's southern strategy. A strategy born of the voting rights act of 1964. When Lyndon Johnson signed the act into law he commented that the South would be lost to the Democrats for generations. It appears he knew what he was talking about.

Posted by: bjlohse_6 | January 15, 2009 9:12 AM | Report abuse

What I find astonishing is the implict embrace of Uncle Tom-ism in Burris's behavior. To eagerly and smilingly do the bidding of a corrupt white official for that official's political benefit is scarcely the basis on which equality for African-American citizens has been built.

Posted by: wcurmudgeon | January 15, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Marcus should spend a little time on Harry Reid, that giant of a wimp running the Senate. He doesn't seem to get the big picture, just postures moment by moment. Burris is likely to be hoist by his own petard - the rest of us go up with Reid's. With Reid and Pelosi two years were wasted during the Bush administration - years that should have been used finding the sins and stashes of Bush and Cheney cronies.

Posted by: practica1 | January 15, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Burris would be seated. This entire story has no relevance to 'race card'. It was a direct duty of the governor to pick Black male with the outstanding service records, instead of another Black male with similar records, who was previously elected to occupy this seat. Governors should in such cases exercise their power to fill vacant seats as similar to what voters previously selected by election, as it is possible. It is their direct constitutional duty to demonstrate as much respect to voters' choice in the preceding election, as it is possible. Blagoevich did it. This entire story with Blagoevich impeachment reminded me high school and later university conspiracies, when the alpha female organized other females, playing on their ignorance and envy, to create the boycott to another female among them, who, due to obvious reasons, is her personal rival in the competition for popularity and choice of men. Usually, this chosen for castigation female is made a scapegoat for all most noticeable negative qualities of the perpetrating alpha female. In this case, the second part is applicable, as the first is not obviously. The fact that Reid and the entire senate got alone with this fully (forgive me my disrespect) idiotic, especially in this particular case, approach really proves that Mr. Reid has overstated his position of majority leader, or simply as a leader.

Posted by: aepelbaum | January 15, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

I am surprised that the notion that Barak Obama’s vacated seat somehow belongs to an African-American has not been challenged in stronger terms by the general media. The black Illinois Congressional Representative Danny K. Davis, who was the first to be offered the seat by Governor Blagojevich (and who turned down), correctly summed up the issue in saying “The seat does not belong to any race or any ethnic group or any category of individual. It belongs to the voters."

Posted by: B_Edwards | January 15, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Given the way we elect U.S. Senators, it is clear the entire senate is ethically compromised, so who are they to bar anyone from representing a state? It seems to me that whether elected or appointed, U.S. Senators are always connected, or spent a ton of money, theirs or someone else's to gain a seat in the Senate. And then they usually, unless very rich themselves, have to spend an inordinate amount of time raising money for the next election, a process that necessarily puts a "FOR SALE" sign on their foreheads. Burris meets the constitutional requirements for U.S. Senate. So does Koko the Gorilla. Barring him from the senate could only mean denying one state, Illinois, its legitimate representation in that "august" body.

Posted by: hyood | January 15, 2009 11:12 AM | Report abuse

If Burris was White he never would have been allowed in. Therefore I believe we can honestly say.. Roland Burris is the first official Affirmative Action selection to the U.S. Senate!

Posted by: sovine08 | January 15, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Get over it Ruth--Senator Burris is more qualified to be there than 90% of the sitting Senators. You failed to inform folks that he was the first Black politician elected statewide in the state of Illinois. I am sure Caroline Kennedy will be fine for you when she is appointed.

Posted by: bill121 | January 15, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

This was not a racial issue until Bobby Rush made it racial. Burris was an elected official with a solid ethical background until he changed that with such a greedy desire to be an U.S. Senator that he collabarated with a dirty Governor to get the seat. One which he couldn't have got in a regular election.

The majority of Illinois voters are not sympathtic to Burris nor do they want him as Senator. Not because he is black but because of the way and from whom he got the appointment. Perhaps he will do well, perhaps not. Makes no difference, the voters of Illinois will remember how this situation was set up. How the appointment and acceptance came about, how a black Chicago politican, Bobby Rush used racism to basicaly black mail the U.S. Senate to accept the appointment.

The shame of Rush is reflected in the ethics of another black, Danny Davis, who seen the offered appointment from Balgojveith as wrong and refused. Dave was interested in the seat and under the proper circumstances could have been appointed. He would have been a good choice but in refusal showed more integerty and concern for the Illinois citizens that anything Rush or Burris could ever spin.

Balgojveith, Rush and Burris may have won a victory but it will be short lived. Two years and out. If Burris is the candidate two years from now, Democrats will join Republicans and vote him down. If Roland Burris thought his political career done before the appointment, he better enjoy his two years. There's nothing left after that.

Posted by: 1ken | January 15, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

As the "news listener" in my household, I sometimes find myself presenting "heads up" news to my wife. In the Burris case, I reiterated the early comments by news analysts about any appointment carrying a taint. "What do you mean, taint?" she asked me. I explained my take on the matter, and now here it is biting us on the nose.

The big issue is that Burris must now try to bow out of any condemnation of his benefactor because in at least that sense, he "owes" Blagojevich for his appointment. I think a decent, civic-minded, and fully self-respecting individual would have declined the offer. That would have established Burris's dignity and denied this rotten governor the "I'll show everyone" opportunity. As it stands now, Sen. Burris carries the suspicion (taint, if you will) of having offered or done something in exchange for the appointment regardless of the real interchange.

It boils down, finally, to trying to make right of wrong. There is never a perfect compensation when the original action of a person is wrong and/or wrongly motivated. Such is the case with Gov. Blagojevich. In the matter of the appointment of a senator to replace the President-elect, he determined to use the power of office for personal gain. Such an appointment, once discovered, must be viewed as wrong by all and so it was by Harry Reid. The Illinois
Secretary of State took the same view. Yet in neither instance was there a useful mechanism to prevent the enactment of the appointment or to negate it once it was accomplished. Sen. Burris may now complete an exemplary term of office, but how he attained the seat will not be forgotten. That Blagojevich was willing to tarnish anyone (at least any naive enough to trust his good intention) to inflate his own self-importance shows the extent of his illness.

Posted by: Jazzman7 | January 15, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Okay. Great commentary and debate. First, I'm African American and a Democrat. I wish Mr. Burris had not accepted this appointment. In so doing, he displayed a "me first" attitude about this whole process. Is it a legal appointment? Apparently the answer is yes. So no problem there. Was it the right thing to do? No it wasn't. Burris played right into his own arrogance and also right into the manipulative hands of Blogojevich. Made a fool of everyone involved in the process.

Also in one single press conference, Bobby Rush completely dishonored the accomplishment of our President-Elect by challenging anyone to disapprove of a black man becoming senator when there are no others.

Valid point about the lack of blacks in the Senate. However, to pull that stunt in a press conference with a clearly tainted and suspect governor forever ties Rush and Burris to an impeached, soon to be prosecuted Governor.

Very foolish in my opinion and certainly not savvy politcally. There is no way in H_E_double hockey sticks that Burris will ever be reelected. I think the voters in Chicago are much smarter for having gone through this.

Posted by: BenThere | January 15, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

I forgot to include that Burris was just dumb for accepting the appointment. But then again, you really don't have to be smart to be a senator do you? Or even president for that matter.........

Witness the last 8 years...........

'The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country.'

'If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure.'

'Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child..'

'No senior citizen should ever have to choose between prescription drugs and medicine..'
'I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy - but that could change.'
'One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and that one word is 'to be prepared'.'

'Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things.'

'I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future.'

'The future will be better tomorrow.'

'We have the best educated American people in the world.'

'One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures.' (during an education photo-op)

'Illegitimacy is something we should talk about in terms of not having it.'

'We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur.'

'It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.'
'Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB-GYN's aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country.'

Posted by: BenThere | January 15, 2009 12:30 PM | Report abuse

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