Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Burris' Path

While Roland Burris' granite mausoleum (complete with footnoted resume) may point to a playful intellect, one must admit that he could have taken a slightly different tack when approaching his appointment. 

Perhaps he could have backed off claims that Blagojevich's decision was touched by the hand of God, or that the Democrats were barring the door to racial progress by denying him a seat in the Senate

Citing divine providence while surrogates accuse your own party of reclaiming the mantle of Bull Connor-a party which just months prior nominated and then elected the first African-American President-Likely inspires anger amongst your potential colleagues. Beyond that, the fact that your benefactor faces a long stint in prison for attempting to sell the seat you now hold, a seat just vacated by the now first African-American President-elect, tempts the fates in a way only Bill Murray could make funny.

Perhaps a more effective path could have been to take the turn of the statesman.

In a single stroke, Burris could have: satiated his ambition, cemented a sterling reputation, and maybe even earned the gratitude of a Democratic Party that sits on pins a needles.

To land this trifecta Burris could have begun by accepting the seat. Following his acceptance, Burris would announce that he has taken the seat despite the Governor's leaden touch, and he was accepting it as a place-holder and would not run for election in two years. 

In doing so, and assuming he found some way to cement people's trust that he would follow through on is promise, he could have reached his pinnacle position and perhaps even had the chance to leave his mark. And by bowing out in two years he would earn a measure of respect rare in this modern age.

Now, it's unlikely someone thinking along these lines would have landed on the Governor's radar. While Burris is roundly respected, his glaring ambition is unlikely to have lain quietly under a basket lo these many years. 

Yet, as a politician nearing the end of his career, what a coup he could have struck. Instead, Burris looks more a card-carrying member of a cynical, pay-for-play world of politics, the one Blagojevich typifies more than any other modern actor.

[This, of course, ignores the question of whether the appointment is legal or not. That will be left for the lawyers.]

- Murphy

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