19 February 2009
The Illinois Farce: Burris's Final Act?
Senator Burris of Illinois now finds himself in the same boat as his patron, former governor Blagojevich. Just as "Blago" could claim that he never actually demanded a quid-pro-quo or "pay to play" deal for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the President-elect, Burris can argue that he did not attempt any fundraising for Blago in return for the seat. Chronologically speaking, that appears to be true. Burris did what he says he did before Obama was elected President. The point, of course, is that he didn't tell us about these activities when he was first nominated and begging for admission to the Senate, when people would have drawn unfavorable conclusions. The conclusions are still unfavorable, and add to those initial conclusions the fact that Burris didn't tell us the whole story the first time around. Whether it's realistic of them or not, the American people (those who care, at least) want Illinois to send a Senator to Washington who can not be said to have done anything, ever, for Rob Blagojevich. That's a hard demand when Blagojevich was the governor of the state for several years. Is there any Democrat who could pass this test? Is there anyone from the private sector who could vote reliably Democratic and never gave or raised funds for Blago? The only way to avoid the Blagojevich taint might be to recruit Burris's successor, since his resignation seems increasingly likely, from another party. On the other hand, if a special election was held, some Democrat would at least have the chance to earn the support of Illinois voters. If the Burris disaster hasn't finally convinced more people of the necessity of a constitutional amendment to abolish the arbitrary gubernatorial power of replacement, I don't know what it would take to wake up the rest of you.