Friday, February 20, 2009

Don't Quit, Roland

Posted By on 02.20.09 at 01:02 PM

Well, now that everyone in Illinois--from Dan Hynes to Sara Feigenholtz--is suddenly a reformer and wants Senator Roland Burris to resign, I'll take the counter view.

Hang in there, big feller. Don't leave unless they drag you out!

And from a purely practical standpoint, why should he leave? His term is almost over. The 2010 primary is about a year away. The campaign will be gearing up in a matter of months. Unless Governor Quinn were to stun us all by appointing a Republican--or, God forbid, a Green--whoever replaces Burris will vote the same way on President Obama's legislation. 

Yes, it's true, the longer Burris stays the more embarrassment it brings to our entire political system. But what's wrong with that? We deserve to be the butt of the jokes. In the long run, it may even help us by giving the International Olympic Committee pause before they shackle us with Mayor Daley's games.

Besides, what's really accomplished by driving Burris out? Will it make our state representatives bolder in their dealings with House speaker Madigan? Will it inspire aldermen to keep the mayor from selling off assets or squandering money on the Olympics? Will the Community Development Commission or the Chicago Plan Commission stop acting like rubber stamps on deals for insiders? I doubt it.

We're like the townspeople in Shirley Jackson's short story "The Lottery." Every now and then we pillory a politician--George Ryan, Rod Blagojevich, Roland Burris. It makes us feel really good about ourselves. Then we look the other way while the rest of them rob us blind.

I'm starting to wish that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald hadn't even bothered to interrupt Blago's scheming back in December. If you recall, Fitzgerald said he arrested Blago to keep him from tainting the process of appointing a senator to fill Obama's vacant seat. In other words, Fitzgerald wanted to avoid exactly what we have.

I wish Fitzgerald had let it all play it out so we could see exactly how our pols behave when they think no one's listening. If nothing else, I'd love to see how that Tribune deal really was going to work.

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