Roland W. Burris is a decent, good man with a decent, good record. He is of the generation of black men and women (first to graduate here, first to be appointed there, first to get elected where ever) who made possible the election of an African America president. In fact, he is of the generation who made it possible for African Americans to vote in at least a dozen states. Unlike those who now knee jerk oppose his appointment to the U.S. senate because of their opposition to Gov. Blago, Burris fought Blago, the corrupt Illinois state machine, and the corrupt Chicago machine.
But for his sponsor, Burris would be deemed the ideal interim elder statesman caretaker appointment until an election can be held.
Illinois Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn and Illinois House Speaker Madigan (as well as President elect Obama and White House COS designate Emanuel, who were two of the main forces behind Blago in 2002, when he was the face of reform, and who endorsed him in 2006, when everyone already knew he was dirty) need to make a decision. Do they want the Obama administration to begin under the cloud of the Blago scandal circus, or do they want to put this behind them?
Let Burris state unequivocably that he will not be a candidate for reelection.
Then, let Quinn and Madigan (and Obama, et al.) agree to the Burris appointment.
And, get this off the front pages.
Blago has demonstrated a few things by his (admittedly very clever) appointment of an African American elder statesman - - he's not stupid, he knows how to play the game, and he's not going away either quietly or without taking others down with him.
The choice is clear. This embarrassment can go on for months (if not years) with the entire state and national Democratic party establishment fighting a qualified, dignified, elderly black veteran of the civil rights movement in court and in the halls of the Senate (will they call security to toss him out? cuff him?). Or, all can agree to Burris, which gets Obama off the hook, gets the Senate Democratic caucus off the hook, and gets the most visible national aspects of the Blago saga off the front pages.
That is, unless you like hearing the phrases "President Obama" and "corrupt Illinois politics" used repeatedly in the same sentence.
BTW - I hope Gov. Paterson takes note. Isn't there a beloved elderly political, social or media figure in New York, with roots in the civil rights, equal rights or other progressive communities, who would make an excellent interim caretaker senator from New York? If le princesse du Bouvier-Kennedy, or l'comte du Cuomo, or any of the serfs want the seat, let them open a campaign account and run for it in 2010.