Commentary Magazine


Other Than That Mr. Reid, How Was the First Day?

Roland Burris got his spectacle today. He appeared, was rejected and was escorted out of the Capitol. The news account paints quite a scene:

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and a bipartisan group of leaders have rejected Burris’s appointment on the grounds that the criminal charges against Blagojevich, including one that he tried to sell the appointment in exchange for financial gain, make it impossible for him to pick a successor to Obama without tarnishing the decision.

Obama supports Reid’s decision, and in Illinois the secretary of state, Jesse White, has refused to sign the appointment papers from Blagojevich, which has sparked a legal battle there over his inaction. Without that signature, Burris’s appointment is not considered official, according to Senate officials.

Burris was met at the Capitol entrance by Terry Gainer, the Senate sergeant at arms, who escorted him through the regular visitors’ entrance and up to the third floor of the Capitol to Erickson’s office — in a regular elevator bank, not the one reserved for senators only.

When Burris was rejected, he marched out of the Capitol and across the street, with a media army in tow, where he held a press conference next to the Russell Senate Office Building.

But that’s not exactly right. No Republican “blocked” his way, and although they have expressed a preference for a special election I am not aware of any Republican siding with Reid in his effort to toss Burris out. No, this is the Democrats‘ doing.

And then from the “a broken clock is right twice a day file” : Rep. Charlie Rangel, who has problems of his own, questions the basis for excluding Roland Burris from the Senate. And what is the delay with the Rules Committee?

Really, this is an unseemly bit of business with little if any legal justification. Burris appears headed for court ( he’s got some high-powered and bipartisan legal scholars who might offer some assistance), and the Democrats would be wise to figure out how to replace today’s optics with a happier image of reconciliation — and a demonstration that Democrats do indeed respect the law, even when the results are embarrassing.