According to a USA Today poll that was just released, the majority of Americans feel that Roland Burris should be blocked from taking President-Elect Barack Obama’s Senate seat. Strangely enough, I don’t agree. Burris, though appointed by shamed Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, is a legitimate replacement, even if the appointment process has been questionable. Blago (which is what all the cool media kids call him) is innocent until proven guilty, right? Despite calls for his resignation and discussions on whether or not he’s wearing a wig (or hair plugs!), Blago’s still the governor of Illinois, and what a bold-faced governor he is!
Most of us would hide in our mansions in shame (that would be my route), but Blago’s going to fight, fight, fight until his very last breath! And it could be he’s 80 until anything actually happens with all the legislative red tape. Whether we like it or not, Burris *IS* a legal pick and as such should not be banned from taking office.
However, the scene in D.C. was full of drama as Harry Reid announced that Burris could not be admitted to the Senate due to a little snafu–the Attorney General for the state of Illinois seemed to have forgotten to sign his official paperwork thereby making Burris’ nomination uncertified. Aw, shucks! Didn’t Burris know that before he packed up all his paperwork and headed to the national’s capital? Of course he did! The missing signature is a formality at best and certainly not a reason to deny a man his Senate seat. I guess no one told Harry Reid.
This is what we’re left with–a disgraced governor with bizarre hair, an attorney general refusing to officiate a nomination, a Senate replacement who is unlawfully being denied his seat, and a Senate leader who’s going along with the whole thing. As an Independent (with a soft spot for Republican politicians), I could sneer at the political maneuvers of the Democrats, but really what I’m concerned about is the law. The law states that the governor makes an appointment for a vacant Senate seat, the state’s attorney general certifies that appointment as a formality, and the junior Senator is sent off to Washington to be sworn in with all the other new guys.
Obviously, the fact that Blago was willing to sell Obama’s seat to the highest bidder presents a huge problem and clouds the nomination. It’s amazing that Blago not only had the audacity to nominate a candidate, but that Burris would allow himself to be nominated by this shady character. Despite my ethical concerns, and this whole affair could be punted to the Senate ethics commmittee, I can’t see why Burris should lawfully be denied his state’s seat.
I am uncomfortable with the idea that politicians can just start reinventing election law, even when an appointment is rocked by scandal. Do I like Blago? Not really. Do I think he should resign? Yes! All this nonsense is really interfering with the running of the state of Illinois. Is he guilty? Probably, but I haven’t seen all the evidence. As silly as it seems after the damning wire taps were released to the court of public opinion (media), Blago is not guilty until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
And isn’t that the bottom line what the law says? Isn’t politics all about the law anyway? Yet we continue to overlook, or rather sidestep it, because sometimes absolutes make us uncomfortable. Or perhaps because sometimes the law is wrong. But laws can be ammended, changed, and ratified. However, we must allow justice to take its course, whether we like the outcome or not.