Until now I have stayed away from all the arguments surrounding the impeachment of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, and his controversial choice in naming Roland Burris to replace President Barack Obama in the Senate.
Today, however, I have something to say.
I came across an article in the Chicago Sun-Times about Senator Burris, and his recent appearance at a Martin Luther King breakfast (part of the Rainbow PUSH coalition).
It was at this event that Burris claims it was he who made it possible for Barack Obama to become president.
I had hoped, with the historic election of our first black president, that we would not be bombarded with a bunch of idiotic people claiming that had it not been for them and their tireless efforts, this election never would have been possible.
It seems my prayers are going to go unanswered… in this instance at least.
Now don’t misunderstand.
I’m not saying there wasn’t a huge effort, an effort that dates back more than a century, that went into making Obama’s election possible.
Many people- men and women, black and white- have worked tirelessly, sacrificing their very lives, so that a man like Barack Obama- a man just like any of the rest of us- could acheive the honor of holding the highest office in this land.
All of them are heroes, and all of them have my undying respect and gratitude.
Roland Burris, however, is an asshole.
I’m surprised that Burris, in his never-ending quest to take credit for the results of this most historic election (glory that is not his), has not gone on to take credit for ending the death penalty in the state of Illinois.
He was responsible for it, after all.
Unfortunately, the story behind the now-infamous moratorium on Illinois’ executions is more of a black mark on Burris’ record than anything else… maybe that’s why we don’t hear him talking about it too often.
Allow me to explain.
As many people know, Roland Burris served as the state of Illinois’ Attorney General from 1991-1995. He was only the second African-American to hold this position.
In 1992, the case of two men- one of which had been sentenced to death in 1985 for the kidnapping, rape and murder of a 10-year old child- erupted in controversy, and was back on the docket, up for appeal.
Burris assigned Assistant Attorney General Mary Brigid Kenney to fight the appeal. Right away, she developed some serious concerns regarding the legitimacy of the original investigation against the men. She immediately sent her boss (Burris) a memo stating that she believed the state had convicted two innocent men, refusing to take part in fighting to uphold what she felt was a wrongful conviction.
Her letter of resignation reads, in part:
I was being asked to help execute an innocent man… Unfortunately, you have seen fit to ignore the evidence in this case.
In 1995, DNA tests confirmed that neither of the men had committed the crimes they had been charged with and sentenced to die for.
Kenney, it seems, had been right all along.
A.G Burris, on the other hand, defended his fight to keep the men in prison, claiming that it is not his job to judge the actions of the jurors who originally convicted them.
In 2002, then-Governor Jim Ryan issued a full pardon to both defendents.
It was this case that resulted in Governor Ryan’s state-wide moratorium on all executions.
Burris was never taken to task for his tireless fight to execute an innocent man, nor was he ever forced to accept responsibility for causing the moratorium on all executions in Illinois.
Don’t get me wrong- I’m not a fan of the death penalty myself.
Burris, however, fucked up.
While definitely one of his bigger mistakes, the death penalty fiasco is but one example of the true character of this jackass.
Like too many politicians, he has led a professional life that is fraught with hypocrisy.
In 1993, for example, while still Attorney General, he organized a national handgun ban. He even helped organize Chicago’s first Gun Turn-In Day.
It was later revealed that Burris himself not only owned a handgun and a shotgun, but had refused to turn either of them in, like he was pushing so hard for everyone else to do.
He organizes a nationwide hand gun ban, pushes for heavy gun control (not something I’m opposed to, mind you), organizes the city’s first Gun Turn-In Day…
… And then “forgets” that he owns two weapons himself?
Senator Roland Burris, unfortunately, is just another politician…
… Full of his own self-importance… and laced with a whole heapin’ gob of bullshit.
A man who thinks the rules apply to everyone but him.
This is just what we need.