AP Photo/Paul Beaty
Former Ill. Attorney General Roland Burris, right, takes questions after Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced Burris as his choice to fill President-elect Barack Obama's U.S. Senate seat Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2008 in Chicago.
On Tuesday, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich went against Senate Democrat demands and appointed former Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris to fill the Senate seat left open by Barack Obama.
Burris, an African American, was never seriously considered for the post, but is highly regarded in the state political arena. Now, some argue that Blagojevich is playing the race card with this decision. His gamble? That no U.S. Senator would be willing to deny an African American a seat at the table, despite the dubious circumstances.
U.S. Congressman Bobby L. Rush didn't make things any easier, appearing alongside the Governor and Burris at their Tuesday press conference. Supporting Roland Burris, Rush said, don't "hang or lynch the appointee, as you try to castigate the appointer." This racially charged language heated up the issue, even managing to wrangle in President-elect Obama — who wasn't eager to directly respond to Rush.
According to The Huffington Post:
"I believe the best resolution would be for the governor to resign his office and allow a lawful and appropriate process of succession to take place."
"They cannot accept an appointment made by a governor who is accused of selling this very Senate seat," Obama said in a statement. "I agree with their decision, and it is extremely disappointing that Governor Blagojevich has chosen to ignore it."
Burris said Wednesday that Blagojevich "has the constitutional and statutory authority to make those appointments ... and I have absolutely nothing to do with those problems."
"I will not be tainted because the governor has followed the constitution," Burris told NBC. "And I am confident that when all is said and done, I will be a United States senator."
Naturally, the seat should go to the most qualified person. While Roland Burris may be that person, time will tell if his quasi-appointment by Blagojevich will even be recognized by state officials (let alone by the Senators on Capitol Hill).