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Burris Hangs in the Balance

Posted on Jan 6, 2009
AP photo / Charles Dharapak

Stormy weather: U.S. Senate appointee Roland Burris arrives Tuesday on Capitol Hill, where he was later turned away when he attempted to take a seat as the junior senator from Illinois.

The Coleman-Franken battle wasn’t the only drama going down Tuesday on Capitol Hill. Roland Burris, Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s pick for Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat, was not part of the swearing-in ceremony for new members of Congress, but he just might make it after all.

The Washington Post:

Burris’s single-minded push may yet succeed. Senate Democrats, once sharply opposed to allowing Burris to be seated because he was appointed by embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), are now considering allowing him to serve as a way to end a confrontation that could drag on for weeks and distract from what they hope will be an end to a decade of gridlock on Capitol Hill. One idea being considered, Democratic officials said, is allowing Burris to be seated if he agrees not to run for election in 2010, allowing the party to recruit another candidate to defend the seat (Burris has lost multiple statewide races in Illinois).

Sen.  Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) plan to meet with Burris today [Wednesday] on Capitol Hill, and the two leaders are undoubtedly eager to defuse a situation in which their resistance to the appointment could alienate black voters.

The Congressional Black Caucus, meanwhile, will hold internal discussions about whether it should put its weight behind Burris’s bid to be seated. Two of the most prominent African Americans in the House— Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), who had aspired to the Senate seat, and Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.)—both said yesterday [Tuesday] that they think the law stands behind Burris, who would replace Obama as the only African American member of the Senate.  Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) broke ranks to back Burris yesterday afternoon.

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By jeepguy1980, January 9, 2009 at 7:19 am Link to this comment

In response to “Romira, January 8 at 8:01 am”

The person replacing Obama can be any race or gender, the article is just pointing out the fact that Obama was the only African American in the senate and if Burris is the new senator from Illinois, he will now take Obama’s senate seat and Obama’s place as the only African American in the senate.

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By P. T., January 7, 2009 at 3:32 pm Link to this comment

“Democrats will adjust their positions”

Hence Democrats have kept funding war in Iraq.

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By JakePDX, January 7, 2009 at 12:29 pm Link to this comment

This is true, PT—Democrats will adjust their positions to fit reality. Republicans don’t change their minds, no matter what the facts are. Hence Iraq quagmire, etc.

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By P. T., January 7, 2009 at 10:08 am Link to this comment

Regarding the matter of Roland Burris, Democrats will always cave in eventually.  They can be rolled.  Whereas with Republicans, when they say something is going to be a certain way, there is no point in any further discussion.

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By JakePDX, January 7, 2009 at 9:37 am Link to this comment

That article about Burris as DA running for governor is eye opening, but I don’t think it’s enough to keep the guy out. Why do DA’s always do that? Don’t they watch movies?

Anyway that was a very long time ago and it doesn’t disqualify him. You don’t need a confirmation hearing to become a senator (there’s a thought). Look, Blogojevich is still governor, unfortunately, and he will remain so for months. No matter how bad a guy he is, he still gets to pick a senator. The Dems just need to suck it up and admit Burris, and see what happens in two years when he runs for reelection.

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By Little Brother, January 7, 2009 at 8:38 am Link to this comment

Who can turn the world on with his smile?
Who can take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?
Well it’s you, Roland; you should know it
With each glance and every little movement you show it

Love is all around, no need to waste it
You can have a town, why don’t you take it
You’re gonna make it after all
You’re gonna make it after all

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By scared, January 7, 2009 at 7:12 am Link to this comment

Burris lacks serious ethics according to the report below.  Sounds to me like someone more interested in advancing his career than doing his job.

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By cyrena, January 7, 2009 at 2:37 am Link to this comment


I’m in full agreement on your theory, including the common sense logic of supporting Burris. I’m not so sure that Bloggo has specifically decided this based on some ‘inner goodness and altruism’ or ‘might as well take one for the team’ type thinking, but it sounds good. wink

However, my view says it doesn’t matter, because the result of his selection (Burris) IS a good selection. Based on what I’ve read of his resume and heard directly from him, he seems to be an excellent choice for the seat.

More than anything though, I’m inclined to favor the law, because that’s why we have them. In this case, this is the already agreed upon Parliamentary procedure, so it’s like, “Can we just get ON with the work for Christ’s sake?”  Of course that view totally ignores the political drama. And well, we’ve gotta have drama. What can I say?

Now of course I might reconsider (or at least think longer) if the situation was slightly inverted, and the Gov was ‘clean’ and the person appointed by him was ‘dirty’.  Clearly we don’t want another corrupt or otherwise criminal element in the Senate, because we’ve been victimized by that insidious poison element within our structure for DECADES. I don’t even wanna TRY to list all of the corruption in the last several sessions of our Congress. In fact, it’s an interesting exercise to compare various Congresses over the past decade or two, to see how they ‘place’ in terms of “Corruption”. Even a cursory glance puts 97% of the major actors in the GOP. 

Anyway, it might matter more (to me at least) if the Law that allowed the Gov to select the Senate replacement resulted in a criminal taking that seat.  Remember Ted Stevens in Alaska? He was tried and convicted within the due process and full authority of the law, for crimes that he committed as a Senator. But, he wouldn’t step down as Senator and who knows what would have happened if he hadn’t lost the seat this time anyway, via our standard election procedure. In other words, how ‘backward’ is it that an individual can commit these crimes, (against the people no less) and then be convicted and sentenced in a court of law, and STILL be one of their states’ representatives in the Congress, whether it be the upper or lower chambers?

I don’t get that. But, it’s exactly what we were witnessing for a while until Stevens finally lost his seat. What would have happened if he’d won again? Would he just teleconference into the Senate business from his jail cell? Or maybe they’d just put him under electronic house arrest, and he could teleconference from there?

Meantime, my point is that there is nothing apparently in the laws that prevent a person from holding and/or running for political office, even if they are a CONFIRMED criminal in the eyes of the law. That is problematic. But that isn’t the situation here. Burris is a clean guy, with impressive enough credentials. (Attorney General of the State of Illinois is no small thing, since one at least SHOULD have a thorough knowledge of the LAW, not necessarily POLITICS).

But, it’s a tough era for non-partisan mentalities where the ideologies are directed by the Goddess of Law. We’re little fish in a big Ocean of those whose ideologies are directed by the power of Piranha Politics. Nobody much pays attention to blind ladies holding scales either.

Still, sometimes it works out well anyway. This happens to be one of those times.

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By JakePDX, January 6, 2009 at 11:41 pm Link to this comment

OK here’s my theory: Bloggo knows he’s busted. He’s going down for a bunch of things—but they probably won’t get him on the senate seat sale. To “prove” he didn’t really try to sell the senate seat, he’s chosen someone who is beyond reproach, who is clearly not corrupt. He’s saying “Who, me?”

In a way, Blagojevich is doing the Dems a favor here, and we would do well to accept it. Burris is a good man, he seems to have a clean background, maybe that’s why he kept falling short on a political scene that’s so crooked. When we start to see more of his background we may well be pleasantly surprised. He’s probably a better choice then Caroline Kennedy—he’s certainly more qualified!

The alternative of course is a special election, where a Republican will have an advantage due to Bloggo’s criminal behavior. See that? Blagojevich is saying, “OK, I’m going down, I might as well help out the team one time before I go.”

We should support Burris, he’s a good man and deserves the seat.

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