Tag Archives: Rod Blagojevich

What Took Roland Burris So Long to step down?

This is one of those “I told you so” moments people in the media business live for. It was months ago that I wrote that Illinois Senator Roland Burris only had one honorable way to deal with his impossible situation. Reports now say he’ll take it, as I said he would. He has reportedly decided not to seek a full term next year.

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He’ll make that announcement in Chicago on Friday, by the time some of you read this. To say Burris was doomed by his association with disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich is by now understatement.

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Though he still says he did nothing wrong, the constantly changing nature of explanations he gave for his dealings with Blago effectively sealed his fate. He couldn’t raise much money for a race where he’d clearly need to spend a lot to clean up his image. That, and the fact that President Obama has been reportedly encouraging a challenger, any challenger to run against Burris in next year’s primary made a credible run all but impossible.

Thing is, he could have saved face and an awful lot of newsprint by opting not to run right off the bat. He might have even appeared statesmanlike in putting the good of his constituents above his own lofty ambition. Of course, it’s way too late for that now. Roland Burris may also have been swayed by the fact that few if any of his colleagues would give him more than the time of day. In a body known for its collegial underpinnings, that must have hurt.

Burris’ decision is made all the more interesting by the decision of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to seek re-election to her current post, and not to run for governor of Illinois or the Senate. The White House was courting her to run against Burris if he’d stayed in the race. For President Obama, it must feel like “now what”? This is, after all, his old Senate seat we’re talking about. On the other hand, he may be breathing a sigh of relief.

Whoever runs for that seat next year as a Democrat won’t be tainted by Rod Blagojevich (unless the Illinois Democratic Party loses its collective mind). And whoever it is won’t be Roland Burris. In a way, it’s sad. Burris wanted little more than to cap a political career with an elected term to the nation’s most prestigious lawmaking body. After all, he grew up during a time of rigid segregation, even in his home state.

Maybe it shouldn’t have ended this way. Yet it has. Roland Burris wanted that office so badly he made a deal with the devil to get it. In the end, he couldn’t hold on.

So now the question is this. Will the Democrats hold on to that crucial Senate seat when the votes are counted in November 2010.

I know it’s a long way off, but you tell me.

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Isn't it Time for Burris to Go?

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?

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