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January 1st, 2009
03:36 PM ET

An empty suit for an empty seat

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, right, named Roland Burris to fill President-elect Barack Obama's Senate seat.

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, right, named Roland Burris to fill President-elect Barack Obama's Senate seat.

Steve Chapman
Chicago Tribune

Wall Street titan Bernard Madoff proved you can take an outstanding reputation and ruin it overnight. Now Roland Burris has demonstrated that even a mediocre reputation can be instantly destroyed.

Burris is the prototypical time-serving career politician who owes his success to being simultaneously ambitious and bland. He has never been one to challenge the status quo, but no one underestimates his self-esteem. The two Burris children, after all, are named Roland and Rolanda.

The result of his immodesty has been a persistent hunger for offices that most people thought beyond his abilities. He has lost races for mayor of Chicago, U.S. senator, and governor (three times).

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Filed under: Raw Politics • Rod Blagojevich • Steve Chapman
December 12th, 2008
03:26 PM ET

Senate appointee – a dead man walking?

Blagojevich was arrested this week on federal corruption charges.

Blagojevich was arrested this week on federal corruption charges.

Steve Chapman
The Chicago Tribune

You'd have to be crazy to accept a Senate appointment from Rod Blagojevich at this point. But as the governor has demonstrated on tape, sanity is not universal among ambitious Illinois politicians. It's just possible someone thinks he or she could, in two years, do a good enough job in the Senate to erase the taint of being installed by an illegitimate governor. But that's an even bigger delusion than Blagojevich has ever suffered.

It's not clear that the Senate would even let the replacement take a seat. Maybe it would have to, given the requirements of the Constitution. But the Constitution doesn't set a deadline, and it's safe to bet the Senate would address the seating of the new member from Illinois with glacial speed.

Even if they finally have to accept the interloper, they don't have to be welcoming. Most congressional work is done in committees, and there's nothing in the Constitution that says a member is entitled to serve on a committee–in fact, the Constitution doesn't mention committees.

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Filed under: Raw Politics • Rod Blagojevich • Steve Chapman