Illinois’ once (and probably not future) Senator Roland Burris has even seasoned political junkies scratching their heads in amazement. Even as secretly recorded conversations between Burris and disgraced former Governor Rod Blagojevich’s brother were being played in state and national media, this guy mounts what he thinks was a counteroffensive. From our “Ya Gotta be Kiddin Me” department:
Burris is telling the nation that those conversations with Robert Blagojevich prove he’s innocent of any pay to play allegations. The Blago sibling, for those who have forgotten, was his brother’s chief fund raiser. Burris wanted very badly to be appointed to Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat. So badly, in fact, that he tried to figure out ways to raise money for Blagojevich without making it look like that’s what he was doing.
Burris says the fact that he never actually sent a check. Trouble is, he promised in the phone conversation to do just that by December 15th. Blagojevich was busted on December 9th. One would think that in light of all this Burris would finally acknowledge that his time as a US Senator was coming to a close. Nope! His media blitz Wednesday indicates he’s not going quietly into anyone’s good night.
This blog has long maintained Burris’ original appointment was tainted by the alleged actions of his benefactor. At best he should have publicly announced that he was a placeholder, and that he wouldn’t run in next year’s election. No such luck. Whether it’s ego, chutzpah, or just plain political blindness, Roland Burris continues to act as though he’s not tarnished by this ethical firestorm, and that he can win a primary battle for the seat he now holds.
Even most of his ardent black supporters in his home state are off the bus now. They realize his chances in a primary are slim, and in a general election against a crusading Republican, nil. Maybe President Obama, who has already interceded in one possible Senate battle (in New York) can make Burris see the handwriting everyone else sees on the wall.
Perhaps an appeal to the legacy Burris holds so dear might work. If not, how about this. The president calls Burris and tells him if he doesn’t either quit now or pledge not to run next year, he, Barack Obama, will campaign in Illinois’ black communities for whoever is Burris’ strongest primary opponent. There are reports that’s just what he did in New York.
Yet it shouldn’t come to this. Roland Burris should do the right thing, which, in light of these phone conversations, is quit, and quit now. Anything less opens up the possibility of a Republican winning that seat in next’s year’s election.
What do you think. Will Roland Burris quit? Should he?