Give Dick Durbin a modicum of credit for admitting what everyone in the free world had already recognized. Durbin told a Chicago radio station that the Senate got intimidated by Rep. Bobby Rush and his allegations that opposition to Roland Burris acting on Rod Blagojevich’s appointment amounted to racism:
Sen. Dick Durbin, who advised Sen. Roland Burris last week to step down from the Senate, acknowledged today that racial considerations were at play in the decision by majority Democrats to seat Burris.
Durbin, a fellow Democrat and Illinois’ senior senator, noted that Rep. Bobby Rush, a Chicago Democrat, appeared at Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s announcement of his appointment of Burris and used racially charged language to defend the appointment.
“My colleague from Illinois, Congressman Bobby Rush, made strong statements along those (racial) lines,” Durbin said on WGN-AM (720). “They were painful and hurtful, and it became part of this calculation.”
Durbin also said he would work with Burris despite the political isolation surrounding the state’s junior senator in Washington.
Er, didn’t Durbin tell Burris to resign a few days ago? Now he pledges to work with Burris on policy, but meanwhile basically calls his existence in the Senate an affirmative-action appointment. Durbin seems rather confused. No wonder Burris didn’t take his advice.
Of course, the other part of this is that the Senate had little choice in any case. Perhaps they could have kept Burris out even after his certification by Illinois’ Secretary of State, but the legal precedents were mostly against them. Even if Bobby Rush had kept his mouth shut, Burris would have taken Obama’s seat as the Illinois legislature failed to act to keep Blagojevich from exercising his appointment power.
Given this statement, I’d doubt that the Senate Ethics Committee will have the stones to eject Burris, which is certainly within their power. They can find separately that he lied to investigators and the Illinois legislature and remove him, even without a federal indictment, but it will look strange — especially since the House Democrats haven’t acted to expel William “Dollar Bill” Jefferson even with an indictment. Durbin has already admitted that Senate Democrats lacked the testicular fortitude to stand up to the Congressional Black Caucus on the front end, so don’t expect them to find their gonads anytime soon.