'My gosh, that really shoulda been me,' Roland Burris
Another day, another state, another plea to be seated in the United States Senate by Roland Burris, who sadly watched via television the other senators being sworn in.
The soft-spoken, 71-year-old veteran of Illinois politics, just back home from three days in Washington, where he did not get to sit in Barack Obama's old Senate chair, is off to Springfield today. There, he'll meet with state legislators pondering the impeachment of Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich.
It's all part of a Harry Reid-Dick Durbin face-saving set of hurdles he'll politely jump over so that the Democratic Senate leaders, who vowed only last month never to seat any appointee of the arrested Blagojevich, can appear to have some standards met.
Especially since Obama aides have advised them to seat Burris and end the controversy that's not exactly change to believe in.
The fact is Illinois legislators have been unable to muster the will to stymie Blagojevich's exercise of authority, including naming Obama's replacement, despite federal allegations that the governor was auctioning off the nomination. Blago played Chicago North Side hardball, named a gentle Democratic veteran who's never lost to a Republican and, oh, happens to be an African American.
And left Reid to explain why he was barring a black Illinois Democrat from replacing a black Illinois Democrat, an explanation that has now devolved away from the Blagojevich taint into some simple procedural issues that Reid says should be completed soon and has nothing to do with race. And Burris agrees.
The goal: Get this embarrassment over as a major distraction to the impending Obama inauguration on Jan. 20. California's influential Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, has broken with Reid to urge Burris' seating.
We've installed a news video of Reid's explanation. (Click on the "Read more" line to view it.) And here's Burris' own airport news conference, explaining his feelings up to now, before departing for his state capital.
Obviously, more to come.
-- Andrew Malcolm