Roland Burris is the most embattled member of the U.S. Senate. The lightning rod politician accepted his brazen appointment as Illinois’ junior Senator in the aftermath of the Rod Blagojevich pay-to-play, influence peddling scandal. The shocking account detailed machinations of the disgraced governor selling the vacated Senate seat of President Barack Obama to the highest bidder. The developments cascaded into yet another corrupt spectacle of embarrassment for Illinois politics. Still, Roland Burris has stood down all catcalls demanding his resignation, with steeled resolve.
Burris, in fact, descended upon the U.S. Capitol and was forced to conduct interviews as “Illinois’ junior Senator” from outside of the building, while lawmakers effectively shut him out from the business of Government. Although the drama represents a sordid account of intrigue, outrage, and flip-flopping, we must attempt to locate and present the particulars of this man’s life within a manner that is unbiased.
Roland Burris, Democrat – U.S. Senator, Illinois Profile
Roland Burris was born on August 3, 1937 at Centralia, Illinois. The downstate locale was a critical railroad node and destination for African Americans migrating from the South.
Obviously, tensions between white and black residents ran high during the formative years of the future statesman. Burris, emboldened by his father’s tireless demand for Civil Rights was actually one of the first youths to integrate the neighborhood swimming pool.
Certainly, this fortitude foreshadowed his eventual political career.
Burris was to earn his political science undergraduate degree at Southern Illinois University – Carbondale in 1959, prior to accepting his Juris Doctor from the Howard University School of Law four years later. Burris parlayed these talents into public service, shortly thereafter.
Roland Burris rose through the ranks during the 1970’s as a leading financial regulator and banking insider, serving as the first African-American National Bank Examiner at Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency from 1963-1964.
He was rewarded with the 1964 – 1973 vice president position at the Continental Illinois National Bank ant Trust Company, one of the top-ten financial intermediaries in the U.S. at the time.
Never mind the fact that this institution went bust in 1984.
Burris began his Illinois political career in earnest to join the ranks of a weak Democratic Party that was being unceremoniously routed amidst the Ronald Reagan heyday. Of course, he was to butt heads with Jesse Jackson, who degraded the rising politician as a puppet for white politicians.
Burris continued to take even more lumps – losing his nomination bid for Illinois Comptroller and being resoundingly dismissed as a viable candidate for the U.S. Senate, Governor of Illinois, and Mayor of Chicago between 1984 and 2002. Despite the parade of losses, Senator Burris returned for more political floggings, and remained on the outside looking in, per the Chicago machine from 1995 – 2008.
Burris was to eventually garner his election as the 3rd Illinois Comptroller and hold this title for three consecutive terms from 1979 – 1991, before accepting his role of as the 39th Illinois Attorney General from 1991 – 1995. Indeed, the first youth to integrate the swimming pool at Centralia emerged as the first African American to be elected into a statewide office at Illinois as Comptroller.
Still, Roland Burris bid his time as an adviser, lobbyist, and counselor per his Burris & Lebed Consulting firm. However, his full time career in private practice was relatively short lived, and Burris placed a phone call to then Governor Rod Blagojevich to offer his leadership services to the exclusive club of U.S. Senator.
Roland Burris, Democrat – U.S. Senator, Illinois on the Issues
Lost amidst the garish glare is Burris’ actual stand in regards to the primary issues that affect Illinois and the United States of America, at-large. The political mindset of this man is further muddled by a career that may be described as non descript in terms of decisive action. Roland Burris has climbed the ladder by toeing the Democratic company line and rarely makes pedagogic waves of any sort.
For example, there is a dearth of information pertaining to this Senator that actually proposes new initiatives, or even disagrees with any popular measure of the Left agenda. Yes, Burris supports Obama’s Economic Recovery Bill, infrastructure spending, housing funding, and tax relief for American citizenry. Yes, Burris wants to “work together to put our nation on the road to health care reform.”
Burris is the classic politician. The rhetoric promises sweeping change, yet offers no specifics, and always articulates the proper exit strategy. Indeed, the Senator may wash his hands of the legislation and rebuke any accusations of wrongdoing that would arise in the aftermath of a total debacle.
Perhaps what is truly notable per the policy of this gentleman would be his sheer arrogance.
Burris has purchased and erected his own tombstone at Chicago’s Oak Woods Cemetery. The monument identifies Burris as a Trailblazer beneath the Illinois State Seal, prior to the U.S. Senator listing his “First African-American in Illinois to…” accomplishments. Of course, Burris has allowed for just enough blank space upon the granite to add additional records.
Certainly, the happenings that have shaped this man’s life would indicate that supreme confidence, bordering upon absolute arrogance has arrived part and parcel with the Game.
On January 8, 2009, Roland Burris, called before the Illinois House Impeachment Committee to testify per Rod Blagojevich’s Fall from Grace, vehemently denied all wrongdoing. According to the Senator:
“I have been in government for 20 years and never participated in anybody’s quid pro quo.”
This statement has emerged to haunt Burris as the storyline continues to shift with escalating intrigue in conjunction with an American public that is exasperated by the wrangling. The Federal Court for the Northern District of Illinois released wiretap surveillance featuring Burris wheeling and dealing with Rob Blagojevich, the brother of the deposed former governor. Says Burris:
“I am very much interested in trying to replace Obama. I am trying to figure out how to deal with this and still get consideration for the appointment. I know I could give him a check, myself. [But] I might try to do this in the name of Tim Wright.”
Ironically, heated accusations of perjury, intimidation, dirty money, and sham politics emerging from the Senator’s coffers will always mar this Illinois trailblazer’s path. The people of the Land of Lincoln and the statesmen at Capitol Hill have come to grudgingly accept Burris as the junior Senator from Illinois.
Roland Burris has already proclaimed his intentions to campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2010.
Roland Burris, Democrat – U.S. Senator, Illinois Profile, Sources:
Roland Burris, U.S. Senator – Illinois, http://burris.senate.gov/
The State of Illinois, http://www.illinois.gov/
The Democratic Party, http://www.democrats.org/
Support Roland W. Burris in 2010, http://supportburris.com/