Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Is reality registering with Burris?

Illinois’ two members of the U.S. Senate had a personal discussion Tuesday, and most people are focusing on the end that came from the mouth of Richard Durbin.

Durbin told Roland Burris that he ought to resign from the Senate. If he doesn’t, Durbin will publicly support somebody else come the 2010 elections.

YET THE PART of the conversation that came from Burris’ mouth was the part that intrigued me. He told Durbin he’s not sure yet if he’s even going to run for re-election.

There’s always the chance that Burris didn’t mean it. He might have been saying whatever it was he thought Durbin wanted to hear, in order to shut him up from talking about an uncomfortable subject.

I could envision how having to hear that the guy who’s supposed to be your biggest supporter wants you to go away could be a blow to the Burris ego. And having to admit that you don’t really stand much of a chance of winning re-election to a full term of your own must hurt the mindset of the man who thinks of himself as a political trailblazer.

But learning that Burris is willing to say he might not seek election to a full term strikes me as a step forward – particularly since I have always been more tolerant than some political observers toward Roland because I always saw him as a candidate who was merely a fill-in for the remainder of the six-year Senate term to which Barack Obama was elected in 2004.

THE FACT THAT he had been around for so long would mean he’d be able to hit the ground running, and not spend the entire two years learning about the ways of government.

I preferred the thought of a fill-in, because I wouldn’t want any of the political younger set to get such a hearty heads-up as being able to claim incumbency when next year’s elections come around in Illinois.

Let Alexi Giannoulias, Dan Hynes and any other 30-something with ambitions of being a U.S. Senate member from Chicago (to balance out Durbin’s being the Senator from downstate Illinois) fight it out in the primary season, then take on whichever person the Republican Party in this state manages to nominate.

Who knows? Perhaps Chicago Urban League executive director Cheryle Jackson (who once was a spokeswoman to now impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich) could run a credible campaign for the Senate seat – thereby giving the people who want the seat to remain in the hands of an African-American politico to have someone serious to vote for.

WHEN IT COMES to Lisa Madigan, I am amazed at how often her name gets thrown into the Senate mix, even though I’m convinced that she takes after her father (Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago) in being that rare breed of Chicago person who actually finds Springfield, Ill., an interesting enough place to have a political career.

That means she’s likely to be the youthful type who takes on Pat Quinn, who earlier this week said he sees no reason why he shouldn’t run for his own term as governor in next year’s elections.

But back to Burris!

I know there are people who think it is wrong for anyone to suggest that it is proper for loyal Democrats to even consider taking on an incumbent Senator – even if his incumbency is only one month long.

BUT I’M WILLING to let Burris hang on (somehow, I still think censure in the Senate, which will forevermore portray him as a goof on the D.C. Scene, is appropriate) if it is just for a two-year period.

I’d rather not put the state of Illinois through having to have a governor pick yet another member of the Senate. And I definitely don’t want the thought of a special election, since it would be expensive and put us through the agony of a campaign season that we’re going to have to endure again in 2010.

Do we, the people of Illinois, really deserve to have to endure two seasons of electoral politics nonsense within the span of just over one year? I find that concept to be more absurd than anything that could possibly come from the mind of Roland Burris.

So what happens now?

I DON’T EVER expect Roland Burris to reach a point in his mindset where he would voluntarily walk away from Capitol Hill. What else is he going to do? Become one of thousands of attorneys trying to earn a living in Chicago? Or perhaps spend his days puttering around his Gresham neighborhood house (once owned by gospel singer Mahalia Jackson) while collecting his pensions earned from past government service?

And officials concede that the process for expelling a member from the U.S. Senate is limited to specific circumstances – none of which currently apply to Burris’ predicament. As the New York Times quoted Durbin as saying, “I can’t force him out.”

If that’s the case, then I’d just as soon have our political people move ahead with trying to find solutions to the economic troubles confronting our nation and our state.

There’s still that budget shortfall Illinois government will face. I’d hate to think of the long-term damage that could be caused to our taxpayers because our political people decided they’d rather blow off financial troubles so they could figure out ways to torture Roland Burris.


EDITOR’S NOTES: A 45-minute conversation between two longtime Illinois pols could give ( us a clue as to what the next two years ( will be like politically.

Roland, Roland, Roland will keep rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ ( on the D.C. Scene, for the time being.

1 comment:

Monroe Anderson said...

Gregory: Good analysis. In reading it, it occurred to me that the winning candidate in 2010 could be Valerie Jarrett. She dropped out of the running when the stench rose while Cheryl Jackson has a Blago association problem to overcome. If President Obama is still flying high 18 months from now, he could escort her to his old seat.