Burris Wants Respect and Power. Blagojevich Just Wants a Deal

Bob Kemper looks at the motivations behind Roland Burris's attempt to join the Senate.

Roland Burris, the former Illinois Attorney General chosen by Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich to fill the U. S. Senate seat vacated by President-Elect Barack Obama, speaks to the media as he prepares to catch a flight to Washington, D.C. at Midway Airport in Chicago.

Roland Burris, former Illinois Attorney General

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What could possibly make Blagojevich think he can get a deal? Well, he doesn't have to look far for inspiration. Former Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, the 36-year veteran of Washington and chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, was busted by federal authorities and charged with 13 counts, including embezzling from the House bank and obstructing justice. When he was finally sentenced to prison in 1996, Rosty ended up serving just 17 months on two of the more minor mail-fraud charges. He was then pardoned by President Bill Clinton.

Is it really hard to believe that the man who later filled Rosty's seat in Congress, the man who apparently shook down a children's hospital for campaign contributions, the man who once thought of taking Obama's seat for himself so he'd have the clout and money to clear his name and run for president in 2016—is it really hard to believe that that man could be bought off?

Bob Kemper is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C., and a former political reporter for the Chicago Tribune.

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