Former Black Panther leader turned Congressman Bobby Rush said this week that the United States Senate stands as the last bastion of plantation politics in America. He was referring to the spectacle of Roland Burris standing in the rain after not being allowed to enter the Senate chamber as the newly appointed junior Senator from Illinois. Burris had been appointed by the scandal-ridden Governor Rod Bagojevich after the Illinois Governor was arrested and charged with, among other things, withholding state aid from children's hospitals as hostage to campaign contributions, attempting to get the Chicago Tribune to fire reporters in exchange for state aid to help refurbish Wrigley Field so the cash-strapped corporation could sell the Cubs and, the final straw, attempting to sell the seat vacated by the President-elect for campaign contributions, future employment and/or cash. In the heat of the crisis the ever resourceful Bagojevich (pronounced bag-oiy-ah-vich) outwitted his own party by appointing the faultless Burris to the position. Rowand Burris a former four-term state attorney general readily accepted the appointment capping off a pioneering political career as the state's first black to be elected to state-wide office.
This put the Democratic party in a fix and, as usual, the Democrats on the hill did their level best to live up to their worst instincts, quickly forming the usual circular firing squad. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nevada) quickly announced that no one appointed by the besmirched Bagojevich would be acceptable to the Democratic caucus. In the meantime the Illinois Secretary of State announced that his signature on the documents was a mere formality and the Illinois Supreme Court ruled the appointment legal.
Burris, meantime, was left quite literally standing outside the Capitol Building under an umbrella in the cold rain.
The press, meanwhile, was having a field day with talking heads belittling the appointment referring to Burris as the Senator from Bagojevich or the the junior Senator from the State of Corruption. All of this could have been avoided had the Illinois Legislature acted in early December as it did this week and vote 114-1 for impeachment or had the Lieutenant Governor merely announced that he would, upon assuming office, also make Burris the new Senator from Illinois. But Illinois Democrats aren't, it seems, that smart, and neither are the ones on the Hill. By week's end, with the Illinois Supreme Court ruling in Burris' favor and some growing support from the likes of Senator Diane Fienstien of California, the Burris nomination appears more solid with each passing day. The odds are now that he will be the next Senator from Illinois but the Democrats, in the best tradition of the old Southern Planters that dominated the party and the republic for far too long, will let him into the chambers through the back door—figuratively, if not literally through the servant's quarters. So much for the post-racial progressivism of the Democratic Party in this the first year of the Obama era.
It was, on the whole a disgusting spectacle made all the more troubling by the appointment of Joe Biden's Senate aide to fill his seat, keeping it warm, it has been reported, for Biden's son when he returns from duty in Iraq. This, together with reports that Senator Ken Salazar's brother will be appointed to his seat when the Senator moves into the Obama Cabinet, Ditto for one of the Udall Brothers who likewise is assuming a position in the new administration, and the report that Caroline Kennedy is high on the list to replace Hillary as New York's junior Senator. If not Kennedy than former Governor Mario Cuomo's son is the rumored alternative. One gets the distinct impression that politics in America, and more troubling the modern Democratic Party, has begun to embrace a form of Bastard Feudalism. Political office a product not of achievement or vision but of blood lines. Not to be outdone and as if to demonstrate the complete absurdity of this proposition, Pappy Bush was shown this week speaking wistfully of a Jeb Bush presidency. Here I take issue with my good friend Larry Hamp. Although I have no quarrel with Caroline Kennedy, and she certainly would be no worse than the rest, we must resist the temptation to not draw things out to their illogical conclusions: for political office to be, in effect, a personal inheritance is anathema to a republic. One need look no further than the Bush's for instruction as to just how bad it can be.