Saturday, January 3, 2009

Just Another Moral Pygmy

As interesting as the debate about whether Roland Burris, a former Illinois attorney general and the current nominee for Barack Obama's Senate seat, has been, the point almost seems moot. Many readers already know the story of Burris, but here's a good summary, from NMC at Folo:

While he was Attorney General of Illinois and contemplating a run for governor, clear exculpating evidence came to light in a case where the defendant was sentenced to death. Burris made an informed decision to continue to seek to execute an innocent man. A concise and clear account of this decision (and one of Burris’s assistant’s resignation in protest) titled “Burris Sought Death for Innocent Man,” is on the Politico blog.

"Empty Suit" Is Too Positive A Tag For Burris

I don't take issue with this assessment, although I'll point out that so far, I've only read criticism from one person who had firsthand knowledge of the workings of case. That person is Mary Brigid Kenney, a deputy Illinois AG at the time, who resigned in protest of Burris' handling of the case. Still, both of the Chicago papers have printed articles saying as much, so I take it that this is true.

I'm just wondering why all the fuss.

Yes, Illinois Governor Blagojevich tried to sell this seat, and anyone who accepts the position is bound to be tainted by that fact. You have to admit, though, that a person with as little courage and moral stature as Burris displayed in that case deserves to be tainted. I doubt he minds at all.

What's more, let's consider where he's headed - the United States Senate. Sen. Harry Reid, the majority leader, has been making a stink about this appointment, declaring that he'll do whatever he can to keep Burris from being able to participate in the Senate. While Blagojevich's attempts to sell that seat were certainly corrupt, they seem no more corrupt than the K Street Project, a barely disguised kickback scheme that encouraged various political interests to hire Republicans as lobbyists, who in turn would make large contributions to the Republican Party. It also seems barely less corrupt than the Senate's selling out our Fourth Amendment rights in exchange for telecomm donations.

It doesn't even compare, one could observe, with the Democrats' complete failure to affect anything having to do with the war in Iraq. They didn't end it, nor did they stop the corrupt practices that were used by contractors and others in support of the war. It hardly questioned the method by which $700 billion, or more, would be pumped into the banking system. Yet it couldn't bring itself to support the auto industry when it needed help. Instead, it made a big show of questioning the leadership of these corporations, and finally left it to the Bush Administration to clean up the mess.

Speaking of that Administration, Congress has done nothing to rein in its lawlessness or corruption. It has steadfastly refused to impeach President Bush despite the fact that he has confessed to breaking several laws. The Senate refused to remove Sen. Ted Stevens even after he was convicted of corruption.

Neither Congressional caucus should be proud of their efforts in the last few years.

Personally, I think Burris will be right at home in that group of moral pygmies.

UPDATE (Jan. 4): Since I've mentioned the phrase "moral pygmies" several times before, I didn't bother to mention this time that I first encountered it in an article Jane Hamsher wrote at Firedoglake.


One Fly said...

Moral pygmies-I like that analogy. Very accurate.

It's my understanding Reid can't do much even if he wanted and given the circumstances even Blago is within his rights to appoint this man.

Cujo359 said...

The Seventeenth Amendment appears to Blagojevich the right to appoint a Senator in this case, provided the legislature doesn't vote to take it from him. I don't know what options the Senate leadership has, beyond denying committee appointments and the like.

Serving Patriot said...

Moral pygmies indeed! I love it!

Of course, the Dems will make their very best efforts to be stupider and more politically tone deaf than the racist moral pygmies (aka GOPers).


Can we start over with new congresscritters, yet?


Dana Hunter said...

All valid points, but one crystal-clear fact remains: I don't think there're any current senators who refer to themselves using the royal we. For that annoying trait alone, I'm actually cheering on Reid in this quixotic effort to keep Blags from appointing Burrs.

Well, that and the fact that even though the chamber's full of corrupt, egomaniacal bastards, adding another appointed by the Egomaniac of the Year just seems a bridge too far...

Cujo359 said...

Forgot to mention, but "moral pygmies" was a phrase I first encountered in Jane Hamsher's writing. I usually mention that, but didn't this time.

Guess I should have added "satire" to the keywords, also. I really detest the notion that all politicians are the same. They're not. What I was really saying here was that I expect better out of politicians. The sad truth, though, is that Burris and his new playmates are far too much alike for his presence there to make much difference.

And yes, Burris certainly fits the pattern of people who refer to themselves in the third person, which is that their egos have been given free rein.