Topic category: Other/General
Roland Will Fit Right In
Senate majority leader Harry Reid can be such a tease. On Sunday, the Nevada Democrat suggested that Illinois Gov. Blagojevich's appointment of Roland Burris to replace The One in what is facetiously called the world's greatest deliberative body might not be welcomed with open arms.
In his trademark high-pitched voice that thrills Canine-Americans everywhere, Reid said of Burris's becoming a senator: "It's going to be very difficult for that to occur." Then, realizing that his statement could possibly offend felons or other core Democratic constituencies, he backed off slightly with "I've learned, being a senator for the time I have, that anything can happen."
That someone like Reid is the Senate majority leader is corroboration of how right he is.
I've been critical of Milorad many times over the years. But, in this case at least, he's done himself and the people who've repeatedly elected him proud. That's because Roland Burris will do quite well in the U.S. Senate.
Being a liberal will mean that he gets good press coverage much of the time. Illinoisans will burst with pride as the mainstream media agree that, despite who put him there, Burris is a genuine credit to the Senate.
Roland thoroughly understands politics and how government works. He's given money to Blagojevich. His lobbying firm has given money to Blagojevich. His law firm has given money to Blagojevich. His clients have given money to Blagojevich. Not that there's any connection at all, but Burris operations have received state contracts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Clearly, here's a man ready to hit the ground running when he enters Washington.
He boasts other credentials. Like Reid, Burris isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer. The late Steve Neal, political columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, wrote during one of Roland's campaigns:
"Though Burris is a very nice man who wants very much to be the state's next governor, he's not always quick on the uptake. Burris often finds it difficult to respond to questions about controversial issues. When the going gets tough, Burris is often a profile in caution."
Neal quoted the candidate during a previous race: "I'm being very vague here because I want at the proper time to have enough latitude to espouse these issues." If you watched Blagojevich's announcement of his selection, you saw Burris bumbling through a handful of press questions. Looking flustered and bewildered, he summoned Congressman Bobby Rush to the podium for help. Rush used to be the Black Panthers' "defense minister" and maybe Roland hoped Bobby was packing heat just in case it was necessary.
Burris, former state comptroller and attorney general, doesn't let a little thing like a deficiency in coherence keep him from having a colossal ego. Here again, Roland will fit right in with his new associates.
Running for the Senate in 1984, he modestly proclaimed, "Illinois is the land of Lincoln. Maybe someday it will be the Land of Burris." He once said that if he were white instead of black he already would be president of the United States.
"I am Senator Burris," he reminds anyone who'll listen to him. He hasn't been certified by the secretary of state or seated in the Senate or sworn in, but he is already Senator Burris. This means, apparently, that reporters will no longer have to address him as "general," his longtime preference. Though he never served in the military, he liked that title a lot and based it on his former position of state attorney general.
Roland speaks of himself in the third person. His son is Roland II and his daughter Rolanda. He's modestly described himself as a "visionary" and accepts as fact that he was "divinely directed."
Then there's the granite mausoleum he's constructed for himself in a Chicago cemetery. It reads like a resume. With "Trail Blazer" displayed in large letters, it cites various Burris accomplishments. Did you know, for example, that this divinely directed visionary was the first African-American Southern Illinois University exchange student to the University of Hamburg, Germany in 1959-1960?
Senator Reid and his Democratic colleagues will ultimately set aside their sham objections, cordially greet Roland, and find he is indeed a kindred spirit. Illinoisans can hope that Caroline Kennedy is named New York's senator and Minnesota lets Al Franken complete his theft of its available seat. Compared to those two, Roland Burris may well come out looking like famed statesman and Senate great Daniel Webster.
Biography - Mike Bates
Mike Bates wrote a weekly column of opinion - or nonsense, depending on your viewpoint - for over 20 years. Additionally, his articles have appeared in the Congressional Record, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Mensa Journal. He has been a guest on Milt Rosenberg's program on WGN Radio Chicago, the Bruce Elliott show on Baltimore's WBAL, the Jim Sumpter show on the USA Radio Network and the New Media Journal's Blog Radio. As a lad, Mike distributed Goldwater campaign literature and since then has steadily moved further to the Right. He is the author of "Right Angles and Other Obstinate Truths." In 2007, he won an Illinois Press Association award for Original Column