Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Mr. Burris deserves a seat


So this guy in Chicago, who looks every bit the mobster, the governor, Blagojevich - has been caught with his hand in the kitty, allegedly.

Allegedly - this is the word of the hour, folks.

Anyhow, allegedly on tape trying to arrange some kind of compensation deal for the Senate seat vacated by our president-elect Barack Obama, formerly the junior senator from Illinois. As this seat is vacant, the law says that the governor is permitted, for all intents and purposes, to assign anyone he sees fit to the role. He could assign me, if he wanted. Well, I suppose it would be good form to assign an Illinois resident at least, but the point is that he has this discretion.

So he was arrested. He was allegedly caught on tape trying to arrange some kind of payment or compensation for the seat. I'm sure this is not uncommon, but apparently he was less subtle about it - hey, give my campaign a million dollars and I'll make you a senator, or something like that.

Classy? No. Legal? Probably not.

But then he actually DID appoint someone. This was after he was arrested, and after he refused to admit wrongdoing and step down. As is his right - it's called due process.

So he appointed Roland Burris, immediately casting a cloud over this apparently decent man. Surely there was no payoff, seeing as Blagojevich had already been charged with wrongdoing, one would assume he would be toeing a line. Right? So why is the fallout hitting Mr. Burris? The state's Attorney General will not sign his credentials, so he's been barred from being seated and sworn in.

Pardon? What,exactly, is Mr. Burris' crime? What has he been accused of? And more importantly, is this not a violation of due process, in which the accused is presumed innocent until proven otherwise? Yes, all evidence thus far revealed suggests Blagojevich is a dastardly fellow and probably in violation of some sort of law or regulation. Probably. But until he is tried and convicted, IF he is convicted, he's not guilty until proven otherwise. And Mr. Burris seems to be held in judgment almost as though he were a co-conspirator, of which I have heard zero evidence.

The court of public opinion is one thing, but for the Senate to fall prey to it? Reprehensible. This is our main organ of lawmaking - congress - and they need to know the law and follow it to the letter. Mr. Burris should be seated, at least until such a time that his seat is called into question based on fact, as opposed to allegation and association.

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