The [Tuesday] Papers
Roland Burris said it again on Monday, and the media repeated it over and over: "What's been done here is legal."
It's an argument that seems to be silencing critics who would rather not see Burris seated in the U.S. Senate - meaning just about everyone. But it misses the point.
No one has argued that the appointment was illegal. Not a single person, as far as I can tell. Because it's not. It's an outrage, and it is the result of a tainted process - and therefore Burris is tainted - but it's not illegal.
That's not where the (legal) argument lies. It lies with the options available to the current members of the U.S. Senate, including the very real question of whether they can - and should - refuse to seat Burris.
That's where the legal question has always lied, but it seems folks have been distracted from that point by none other than Roland Burris.
Another argument gaining steam is the one put forth by Eric Zorn today: Just let Burris have the seat because this looks bad for the Democrats. Put the story to bed and move on.
That might be an argument for political strategists - whose clients come before the public interest - to make, but it's not an argument any journalist ought to make. Your job isn't to safeguard the PR of a particular party.
Just let Roland Burris have the seat, Zorn writes. Score one for G-Rod. He might even be a good senator. (By what definition? He'll reliably vote Democrat! Just like millions of others in the state would). Right. And then when 2010 rolls around, with the power of incumbency behind him, well, you know, he wasn't that bad!
Just like the way nobody much bothers to be outraged over Dan Lipinski these days. The same editorial boards that harangue the public for their voting habits endorse him now. Emil Jones III, anyone? And it's not as if Rahm Emanuel will be criticized by an adoring media for trying to install a temporary congressman to keep his seat warm.
All those calls for change. For reform. Blaming citizens for not standing up. They always vanish when convenience, expediency, and a point for your side comes into play.
Who Is Roland Burris?
Mystery Burris Theater
REPORTER: Have you had any contact with the Obama administration?
BURRIS: "My people tried to reach out to them."
COMMENT: But the Obama folks aren't returning calls from Rod and Patti these days.
Beachwood Quiz: Who said these words?
"Race has never been a concern of mine. I can't control my supporters."
A) John McCain
BURRIS: "I'm a United States Senator. They cannot stop me from doing my senatorial duties."
REPORTER: But you haven't been sworn in yet.
BURRIS: [Bleep] you!
BURRIS: "What you all don't understand is that what has been done here is legal . . . Why can't my colleagues in the press understand that? I guess it keeps you in a job."
COMMENT: Yes. If you hadn't accepted this appointment, layoffs were imminent. [Bleep]in' ninny.
REPORTER: If you run for re-election, how will you sell yourself to the people of Illinois?
COMMENT: One contribution at a time!
BURRIS: "I will sell myself the same way I've sold myself to the people of Illinois."
COMMENT: Miserably? Burris was rejected by the people of Illinois in 1994, 1995, 1998, and 2002.
BURRIS: "I am the solution to the problem."
A) Is this gonna be on the test?
BURRIS: "Why should I separate myself from Rod Blagojevich?
COMMENT: Because otherwise you'll end up sharing a cell with him.
BURRIS: "Are those bills he signed illegal?"
REPORTER: "We don't know!"
BURRIS: [Um, next question . . . ]
BURRIS: "Why don't you know? Because it keeps you working."
COMMENT: Perhaps Roland thought he was speaking to representatives from Illinois' law enforcement community, not a media mob.
BURRIS: "No, I didn't expect all this."
COMMENT: I'm tone-deaf, don't forget. I can't hear a tone.
REPORTER: Are you concerned that Illinois is a national laughingstock?
BURRIS: That's because of all the media stories.
COMMENT: Right. All the media stories about Roland Burris.
REPORTER: Are you doing this to serve your own ego?
BURRIS: "I won't respond to that."
BURRIS' EGO: But I will. Yes!
Chicago NYE 09
The Beachwood Tip Line: Like a rainbow.
Posted on January 6, 2009
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