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Burris embarrasses his good name
Daily Herald Editorial Board
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Published: 12/31/2008 12:04 AM

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On the plus side, Saturday Night Live will now have some new material.

On the downside, Illinois will once again be the punching bag for comics all across the country.

What was Gov. Rod Blagojevich thinking Tuesday? That's a natural enough question. It's impossible not to marvel at the bizarre thought process that went into his unexpected appointment of former Attorney General Roland Burris to fill President-elect Barack Obama's seat in the U.S. Senate.

But that's not the most pertinent question prompted by Tuesday's strange announcement at the Thompson Center. After all, many of us have been asking, "What in the world was Blagojevich thinking?" about a lot of things for quite some time now.

The real question is, what in the world was Roland Burris thinking?

Blagojevich long ago gave up his dignity. Tuesday's announcement was just another display of it, another embarrassment to the state, another sign of disrespect to the people of Illinois. Another outrage.

But what made Burris decide to cash in his dignity too? At age 71, after a distinguished career in public service, the first black elected to statewide office in Illinois, a former attorney general and comptroller?

Virtually every leader in the state had encouraged Blagojevich to refrain from making an appointment to the Senate in the wake of his arrest earlier this month on charges of trying to sell the seat. His own lawyer had said there would be no point in Blagojevich making an appointment. Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White had said he would not certify an appointment if Blagojevich made one. All 50 Democratic Senators in Washington had said they would refuse to seat a Blagojevich appointee even if White certified one.

What does Burris hope to gain from this? In the end, he will only bring shame to what until now has been his good name with what apparently is a cynical and manipulative gambit to divide the electorate.

In his news conference, the governor praised Burris' integrity and said he hoped that his appointment doesn't "taint this good and honest man."

That's laughable. How could it not?

We are happy to see that White has reiterated his pledge to refuse to certify the appointment. We hope he stands his ground.

And we hope there is an outpouring of protest from leaders from all sectors of the nation and the state, from Obama on down - an overwhelming chorus of protest so loud that Burris cannot fail to hear the futility of his desperation effort, loud enough to jolt Burris to his senses so he does the right thing.

Mr. Burris, spare the state and refuse this sullied and calculated appointment.