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What I Watched Last Night: More Mystery Burris Theater

A rough transcript of Carol Marin's panel on Roland Burris on Monday night, edited for clarity, with my own commentary added as I watched from Beachwood HQ. Tom Cross is the Republican House Leader; Monique Davis and Susana Mendoza are House Democrats.

CROSS: Nobody knew about [the amended affidavit] except Barbara Flynn Currie.

DAVIS: If there had been any earth-shaking information in it, Rep. Currie would have shared it with us.

RHODES: I can see already that it will be impossible for me to come up with clever lines every time Monique "the rustling of the leaves" Davis says something mind-bogglingly stupid. But bear with me here, it only gets better.

CROSS: Everything up to that point in the impeachment process had been shared . . . evidence was put up on the website, we were all on conference calls . . . It troubles me even more that we didn't see this until the Sun-Times broke it . . . Burris's attorney actually had a conversation with Barbara Flynn Currie sometime in January about "cleaning up" the affidavit . . . we didn't hear that or know about a pretty significant piece of evidence.

DAVIS: I believe during our hearing Roland Burris told us several times he would get back to us with additional information . . . now I don't believe it changes anything he said. I think perhaps it added to what he said.

RHODES: Yes, Burris said he would get back to the committee about whether he had any contacts with the Blagojevich administration prior to being appointed to the U.S. Senate and, additionally, if he was solicited for campaign funds in return for that appointment. In other words, he would get back to the committee later about the very reason he was called to appear before the committee in the first place.


MARIN: Shouldn't you have seen that affidavit by now?

DAVIS: The issue becomes, is there something criminal in reference to the affidavit.

RHODES: The issue becomes, is there something criminal about you holding public office.


CROSS: The affidavit says he talked to the governor's brother . . . contrary to what was said in response to a direct question.

DAVIS: That conversation was in October!

RHODES: What, October is Get Out Of Jail Free Month?


MENDOZA: Clearly he did not say the whole truth.

DAVIS: I'm surprised at you. When you are before a body with an attorney, he will tell you, answer the question. He answered the questions put before him. Over time, over things came to mind.

RHODES: Like the answers to the questions?

DAVIS: I don't believe he purposely left out information. Questions were coming quickly from different members.

MARIN: You two clearly disagree.

DAVIS: I wonder why.

RHODES: [Gasp] Did she just say what I think she said? [Davis is African American.]


DAVIS: I don't know, heh-heh!


MENDOZA: If he says that he didn't give money because it would have been inappropriate, why hide something that makes him look like a good guy in the eyes of the Illinois people?

DAVIS: He is a good guy. He has not had a blemish on his record.

RHODES: I wonder why.

DAVIS: He has been accused of absolutely nothing.

RHODES: I wonder why.


CROSS: Harry Reid says, go to the impeachment committee and clear the air . . . I would have more sympathy if the next day, or the day after, he called up and said, we need to clarify . . . we had to go almost a month before we find out about this.


DAVIS: You have an attorney here, they know Rod Blagojevich has been arrested. Are you telling me they don't know that their phone calls are not being recorded?

RHODES: And when did you arrive in Illinois, Ms. Davis?


CROSS: If too much gets said, he might not get seated by Harry Reid. He's got to get seated, and after that he cleans up the affidavit.

DAVIS: He was asked to have a fundraiser for Rod in October. It had nothing to do with the Senate seat at the time.

RHODES: Are you aware, Ms. Davis, that Rod Blagojevich is no longer the governor?

MENDOZA: We just found out now, though.


DAVIS: Is that tragic, to call a United States Senator a lying little snake? I think it's terribly tragic.

>MENDOZA: I think it's true. What one person thinks is tragic, another thinks is the truth. He had every opportunity to come before the committee to be forthcoming and honest.

DAVIS: So who goes before a body and swears to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth and rattles on?

RHODES: Someone telling the truth!


MARIN: Is there a racial element to this?

DAVIS: Maybe we wouldn't have the passion. Maybe we wouldn't care. There are 100 senators in the United States Senate, and we have one African American senator.

RHODES: And black people are so stupid that there's not a single African American other than Roland Burris who could hold that seat.


DAVIS: I think this is unduly sad that another Democrat will try to unseat him when she hasn't even read the transcript.

MENDOZA: I did see it, it's on the Web! Anyone can download it at this point.

DAVIS: [Just sits there grinning and chuckling]


MENDOZA: I was there, and I feel that I was lied to. He's a former attorney general. If anyone should know the rules of telling the truth, he should.


DAVIS: [responding to Cross] Oh come on, Tom! Whether he was asked or not! Just come in and tell everything!

RHODES: Isn't that what God would want?

DAVIS: He tells them he met with them to talk about business, what part of that don't you understand? I don't know his partner's name, but it had nothing to do with the senate seat.

RHODES: I think that it is unduly sad when another Democrat will defend him when she hasn't even read the transcript.


DAVIS: Roland Burris will be the sitting senator for Illinois until 2010 no matter how made it makes some people. This is Black History Month, and we should talk about black history across the state, rather than these diversions.

RHODES: Yes, we should talk about how black history is rife with opportunists and political cretins who are sometimes black themselves, and don't seem to realize how insulting and bigoted their own views are. There are so, so many African Americans in Illinois who would hold that senate seat with honor - and the seat should be held by an African American as long as the United States Senate is so ridiculously lacking in diversity. But that has nothing to do with Roland Burris, and any continued defense of him on racial grounds is offensive to the vast numbers of honest African Americans unwilling to lower themselves as Burris has done to hold a seat they so richly deserve - a seat they have been told only Roland Burris is qualified to have. My God.


See what else we've been watching. Submissions welcome.


Posted on February 17, 2009

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