Thursday, January 1, 2009

Permanent address

When I heard that Rod Blagojevich, the addled and embattled Governor of Illinois, had appointed Roland Burris to fill the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama, I was inclined to separate the governor's alleged misdeeds from the appointee's qualifications -- that is, I don't subscribe to the whole "taint" proposition.

Now that I know a bit more about Mr. Burris, however, I can't imagine anyone so poorly suited to serve in a government of, by and for The People. It's obvious, at least to me, that Mr. Burris has lived his 71 years in pursuit of his own legacy, not in service to the citizens of his state.

Exhibit A -- Mr. Burris, in an outrageous feat of narcissism, has built a granite mausoleum engraved with his résumé. (He's still very much alive, by the way.) Beneath the Illinois state seal and the inscription "Trail Blazer," he reminds visitors to Chicago’s Oak Woods Cemetery that he was the state's first African-American attorney general, its first African-American comptroller and the first African-American exchange student to Hamburg University (that's in Germany) from Southern Illinois University (that was in 1959).

I know that the U.S. Senate isn't exactly an ego-free zone, but I wouldn't hand a power tool to someone who prematurely memorialized himself, never mind trust him with a seat in Congress.

And speaking of ego, Mr. Roland Burris has two children, a son named Roland and a daughter named (no kidding) Rolanda.

Seriously, do people really do this?

Apparently so -- and sadly, some of them are in charge.