Jonah Goldberg

The Democrats are folding like an ironing board over this Roland Burris business, and for some reason people are surprised.

Just to catch up: The governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, is in scalding-hot water over allegations he wanted to sell Barack Obama's still-warm Senate seat. This was discovered via federal wiretaps of the helmet-haired governor's phone conversations and fueled by some juicy dialogue better suited for fleet week in Manila.

In response, Senate Democrats took a Churchillian stand, vowing that no Blago appointee would ever be accepted by the Senate. No appointee, the Democrats insisted, so tainted with scandal could be allowed to sit in the same chamber that Ted Kennedy calls home.

The party of the infinitely elastic "living Constitution" suddenly planted their flag of principle in the terra firma of constitutional concrete and watched it flap in the hot wind of their political bloviation. Even after Blagojevich announced he was appointing Roland Burris, a respected but unremarkable black Illinois politician, to Obama's seat, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada stood his ground, pronouncing the move "unacceptable."

But that resolve melted like a Hershey bar in a Nevada parking lot the moment Mr. Burris came to Washington. Apparently, the Constitution wasn't on the Democrats' side (Fancy that!) and liberals lacked the stomach to stand in the doorway of the Capitol and block admittance of a black man.

Indeed, that was Blago's thinking all along. When the Democratic governor announced his decision, he assembled various black Illinois pols to support the move, including Rep. Bobby Rush, a Democrat from Chicago's South Side and a founder of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party. Rush immediately played the race card at the press conference. "There are no African-Americans in the U.S. Senate. And I don't think any U.S. senator who's sitting in the Senate right now wants to go on record to deny one African-American from being seated in the U.S. Senate," he said.

In case you needed a ball-peen hammer to drive the point into your forehead, he added: "I would ask you to not hang or lynch the appointee as you try to castigate the appointer ..."

Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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