Do we really need affirmative action in the Senate? The irony and hypocrisy of the recent developments in the Blagojevich scandal are overwhelming and I am surprised more people aren't calling this what it really is... a racial diversion.
A couple of days ago, Blago announced in a press conference his appointment to take Obama's seat, Roland W. Burris, a man in his seventies who served as the Illinois Attorney General 13 years ago and has since made unsuccessful attempts to run for Mayor of Chicago and Governor. Also, he happens to be black.
In the immediate wake of Blago's arrest on December 9th for plotting to sell Obama's seat to the highest bidder (if you aren't aware of this, then stop reading this blog now, you're wasting your time), Senate Democrats, led by Harry Reid, vowed to block any appointment made by Blago should he decide to go ahead and make one before he could be impeached.
In an act of defiance, Blago made a selection anyway. Now the ball is in the Senate's court, and they are faced with an intentionally set up dilemma by Blago. Do they reject the newly appointed candidate and face cries of racism, or do they accept Burris and go back on their previously stated promise to reject any appointment by the governor?
Incidentally, Burris was not Blago's first choice. Blago called on Danny Davis, another black Illinois politician a few days before contacting Burris. He offered Davis the job first, but Davis declined because he felt the scandal would prevent him from being able to perform. Burris, on the other hand, apparently does not feel the same way.
It's obvious that Blago is trying to start a politically charged racial fire to take some of the heat off of himself. He doesn't want to be the lone villain, and he's creating a mess in order to bring others down with him. He chose a black politician on purpose in order to create controversy and to call the Senate's bluff.
The promise to block Burris is already causing cries of racism from some in the black community, even though the Senate made it clear well in advance that they would block any appointment made by Blagojevich. This is an excerpt from an article in today's NYTimes:
Throughout Wednesday the telephone lines were burning in the studios of WVON, a black talk radio station in Chicago, where scores of callers voiced their outrage at what they described as the racist efforts to block Mr. Burris from taking his seat.
Weve come out of this presidential election so steeped in change, but the game still remains the same, said Michael L. Peery, a producer at the station, describing the sentiments of the callers. When youre African-American, you always have to leap a little higher. Its never really a level playing field here.
The Rev. Marshall Hatcher, a black pastor at New Mount Pilgrim Church on Chicagos West Side, said white politicians who reject Mr. Burris would suffer among black voters, adding that whites show a disconnect when they fail to see why it is so important to African-Americans to have a black replace Mr. Obama in the Senate.
Here's the bottom line: Blagojevich obviously picked a black candidate on purpose, relying on the inevitable racial backlash to shield his pick from being blocked by the senate and thereby force his appointment through. If Burris is granted the seat, it will be because of racism. It will be because Burris is getting special treatment for the sole reason that he is black. This is racial hypocrisy. I voted for Obama because he was the best candidate, and for that reason only. The door swings both ways, and when you give special treatment to a Senate candidate only because he is black, you are in effect saying that blacks are NOT equal, and that they REQUIRE special treatment. Had Blagojevich chosen Tammy Duckworth (the person I would like to see take the seat), no one would raise an eyebrow when her appointment was denied.
Blago is relying on the threat of racial backlash to get his way, and at the same time, make this scandal larger than himself. If we really want to be "post-racial" in this day and age, let's not make racial issues out of issues that are non-racial to begin with, and let Blago get his wish.