Democrats may have no choice in ultimately seating Burris. Just hours after the Senate sergeant-at-arms summarily rejected Burris from taking his seat, Sen. Reid and others seemed on the verge of changing their minds. Leader Reid's description of Burris had changed from dismissive to complimentary: "He obviously is a very engaging, extremely nice man. He presents himself very well. He's very proud of his family. He's got two Ph.D.s and two law degrees, and he talked about how proud he was having those degrees."
But even if the congressional leadership doesn't cave, Burris is virtually a sure bet to win a challenge in court. Like it or not, Rod Blagojevich is still a sitting governor with the power under Illinois law to appoint a replacement to fill President-elect Obama's now empty seat. The Democrats in the state legislature had their chance to impeach the man -- and they chose not to act quickly.
The entire episode is a huge embarrassment to the Democrats, including the incoming Democratic president. How ironic that Barack Obama is now saddled with party leaders who are accused of acting like racists. Democrats have rarely minded when the R-word was hurled at Republicans, but when the shoe is on the other foot, it hurts.
And that may be Blagojevich's sweetest revenge. The fellow may be a foul-mouthed, larcenous creep, but he knows exactly how to yank his fellow Democrats' chains. Blagojevich may eventually be forced from office -- and he may well end up behind bars -- but he's going to inflict maximum pain on his fellow Democrats before he leaves the stage.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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