By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Dick Durbin said today that Roland Burris should resign, and he's right, of course.
But he also admitted that he can't force Burris out. The fact is that virtually the only person who can force Roland Burris out is Roland Burris. And I for one am not holding my breath.
The problem Durbin and his Democratic colleagues face regarding Barack Obama's replacement is that he is in fact no Barack Obama. If anything, Roland Burris is the anti-Obama. (A thought pops into my head: What will Obama do if, while making his way to the podium in the House chamber this evening, he is confronted by his successor?)
Barack Obama has had a well-documented, meteoric rise, from obscure state senator to the White House in under five years. Burris's rise to national prominence has been slow and lurching, stretching across 30 years. He was the first African-American elected statewide in Illinois, but grew into something of an also-ran, unsuccessfully running for governor a couple of times before finally backing into the office as one of the few people willing to return wacky Gov. Rod Blagojevich's phone calls.
Barack Obama understands better than many politicians the power and importance of words. Words matter, Obama famously argued during the Democratic primary campaign. And when his short presidency has hit rough patches in its first few weeks, Obama has relied on his own eloquence to boost his agenda. Roland Burris appears to view words as disposable; he has in his brief time on the national stage used whichever ones most conveniently helped him achieve his goal of becoming a U.S. senator, his tale of contacts with Governor Blagojevich and his staff evolving since he came into office.
Ironically Burris's most recent defense was "You all know Roland Burris." Here is what I have concluded about Roland Burris, in his brief time in the national spotlight: He is all about Roland Burris. And that self-focus is the most important way in which he is the anti-Obama.
And it also makes one doubt that he is going to give up his spot in the Senate any time soon.
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