Photo from the Associated Press
As with many issues facing America, the case of Roland Burris and his appointment to fill the Senate seat left vacant by Barack Obama is being presented to the American people as a false dichotomy, which ignores the actual issues at stake. On the one side, there is Senator Harry Reid who (though he has seemed to back down) at first, refused to seat Burris. The reason?
Democrats and Obama have said that the corruption charges against Blagojevich would strip credibility from anyone he appoints to the seat. [source]
On the other side is Burris and his supporters who "have suggested that the real reason for the rejection involved race [source]."
Really? Are we still not passed all of this? Clearly the reason for the Senate's opposition to seating Burris is that he was appointed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is mired in scandal and corruption charges. Do the people crying "racism!" really believe that the Senate Democrats would have behaved differently if Blagojevich had appointed a white person? Or do they really think that if the Blagojevich scandal had not occurred, that the Senate Democrats would be blocking his appointee because Burris is black? Give me a break!
But, I digress. The point is that both positions are tenuous and ignore the real issue: the law. One side says it would be too outrageous and scandalous to seat Burris. The other side predictably, falsely, and laughably says that it would be racist not to seat Burris. What the law says seems like only a minor detail to both parties. At most it's a pawn, something to be exploited to get their way and advance their side. It is certainly not the central and most important issue in their minds, the key factor that should determine the outcome of the proceedings.
The real question is whether or not Blagojevich has the legal standing to appoint Mr. Burris and whether or not Senator Reid has any legal standing to block that appointment and not seat him. The entire way this case has been handled, discussed, and reported on in the media has been another striking example (at a time rich with such examples) of how the rule of law is ignored in America. Anybody wrapped up in this story and excited by either side's arguments has missed its true significance.
The controversy surrounding Mr. Obama's vacant Senate seat are just more evidence of a terrible truth. We are living in a country whose leaders no longer care if their actions are legal or constitutional. That is a harrowing thought.