Category Archives: Illinois senate seat

REACT: Congratulations to SENATOR Roland Burris — a good man for the job

Today, Roland Burris was sworn in as the junior senator from Illinois, just as he predicted he would be. For the most part, his critics are fools, liars and hypocrites – or people with flagrant self interests.

First and foremost, we should recognize that in Burris the people of Illinois have an outstanding public servant as their new senator — not withstanding the unfair and scurrilous criticisms flung at him by pandering political leaders and a public press on a feeding frenzy,

Burris has been one of the most descent public officials in recent history. In an Illinois environment of pay-to-play, insider deals, bribery, vote fraud, cronyism, nepotism, abuse of office, etc., Burris has kept his integrity. He has been faithful to the calling of public service.

He was the first African-American to win statewide office. In sixteen years in office, eight as Comptroller and eight as Attorney General, he was not once the subject of scandal. Somehow his unsuccessful bids for later offices are held against him despite the fact that those campaigns were run with dignity, intelligence and integrity. Losing an election is no sin – and consider for one moment the caliber of those who beat him.

Burris’ critics come in two varieties. The first group is composed of the revisionists, who once praised and endorsed him for public office in the past. On the basis of nothing more than their almost crazed desire to “get” Governor Rod Blagojevich (who certainly deserves to be “got,” and will be), they have turned on Burris like rabid dogs.

For the revisionists, the mere acceptance of a seat in the U.S. Senate wiped out a long, distinguished and honorable career in politics. In maligning Burris, they are re-writing history. Burris is retroactively declared to be a hack politician, an ego maniac, a scumbag of sorts.

What Burris did is not illegal. It is not immoral. It is not even the slightest disservice to the public. As a career politician, his interest and willingness to accept a historic senate seat is understandable. I suspect there are a lot of “good people” who would have done the same. I would have.

Then there are those who still say Burris is a “good man” … “qualified” … “competent” … but he should not have been seated due to the sins of the appointer. They say the appointment is “tainted.” There opposition has nothing to do with Burris as a person. It is that damn Blagojevich.

This is nothing less than guilt by association – and a hypocritical double standard, to boot. Many of the very same people who wrap Blago around Burris had, themselves, close working relationships with the Governor. Lt. Governor Pat Quinn was his running mate for re-election even as the feds were closing in. Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan was Blago’s campaign co-chairman. Much of the media that now demonizes Burris by the proxy of Blagojevich endorsed the Governor’s re-election on their editorial pages.

Taking it personal … I have known Roland for almost 30 years as a friend and as a member of the board of the City Club of Chicago, in the days I served as its executive director. Though I generally leaned Republican, he always had my support because of his competency and decency.

Though much has been made of his monumental grave marker, Roland has always been a humble and unpretentious man. I have never known him to use race to his advantage or as an excuse.No matter how he got there, or who appointed him, or the twisted logic that places the wrongs of the Governor on his shoulders, I know one thing for sure. Illinois has sent a good man to Washington, and I am confident that he will serve the people of Illinois with effectiveness, dedication and integrity.

>OBSERVATION: Sitting in judgment in the Senate.

>Ok, so the Governor has suffered scandals that clearly bring into question his honesty and integrity – although not convicted of anything, as of yet. The person he would designate to fill the vacant seat in the United States Senate is a scandal-free well known political figure – albeit some say not qualified to hold the office. In such a situation, should the appointee be denied the seat because the person with the appointive power is tainted? Leaders in the Senate seem to think so.

Should the senators simply choose to ignore the law and block the doors of the chamber to prevent the newly appointed senator from entering? I say no.

If it is the legal right of New York Governor David Paterson to make the appointment, then I think Caroline Kennedy has every legal right to serve – regardless of my personal opinion of the appointee. Its a no brainer.

AND … THEREFORE … ERGO … THUS …

The same is true for Roland Burris – who, on his worst day, has more integrity than quite a number of sitting senators who are addressed as “the honorable” and commonly characterized as serving “with distinction.”