National Opinions

Chicago Tribune: A political stunt

"I don't want to hog the limelight. This is Roland Burris' day."

-- Gov. Rod Blagojevich, after selecting Burris to replace President-elect Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate, Dec. 30, 2008.

"This is not about Mr. Burris; it is about the integrity of a governor accused of attempting to sell this United States Senate seat. Anyone appointed by Gov. Blagojevich cannot be an effective representative of the people of Illinois and, as we have said, will not be seated by the Democratic Caucus."

-- U.S. Sens. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Dec. 30, 2008.

Another day, another stunt from a governor who looks as though he's already playing to the jury pool.

Reid and Durbin are right, though. Seating the nominee of an allegedly corrupt governor would be folly. If Burris wants to succeed Obama, we wish him well in the special election that the Illinois General Assembly needs to schedule without further delay.

The more that politi- cians connive to exploit the Obama vacancy, the more obvious it is that no one but the voters of Illinois should fill it. The fiction that the republic will collapse if a state that boasts a president doesn't have two senators as well is ridiculous. We'll have two senators when state legislative leaders quit maneuvering to keep the second seat Democratic and let the people vote.

For all concerned, Tuesday was a teaching moment -- or rather, a learning moment: Legislators learned that the sooner they impeach and remove the governor, the sooner he'll lose his ability to inflict his self- serving mischief on the citizens of this humiliated state. The more his stature shrinks, the more desper- ate he is to be something other than a punch line. Why let him? Burris learned that undoing a lifetime of public respect can take less than a day. He has taken full partner- ship in the governor's delusions -- and also added an undistinguished chapter to his biography.

Reid and Durbin learned that a rogue Democratic governor will force Senate Democrats to publicly reject a black nominee -- if engineering that rejection serves the governor's purposes.

Ed Genson, who had assured Illinoisans that Blagojevich wouldn't try to fill the Senate seat while under a criminal cloud, learned that a client with zero credibility can render his own attorney just as unreliable.