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Taint and the Man

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Monday that Burris would not be permitted to take his seat because Burris "has not been certified by the state of Illinois," a reference to incomplete paperwork that only touches on the dispute. Senate Democrats maintain that Burris' appointment is tainted because of the charges against Blagojevich.

"As I read the U.S. Constitution," he said on CBS's "The Early Show," it says the "governor shall fill a vacancy, and as a former attorney general of my state, I have no knowledge of where a secretary of state has veto power over a governor carrying out his constitutional duties." – NPR

Americans, as a rule, are pretty fair minded, which is to say they are adept at assigning responsibilities. As a general rule, one is responsible for what one says or does. In the case of delegated responsibilities, one is responsible for what one has said or done as an intermediary.

It has been said, falsely and scurrilously, that Roland Burris, chosen by Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois to replace Barrack Obama in the US Senate has been tainted because, to put the matter briefly, Blagojevich is a disreputable politician under indictment for attempting to “sell” Obama’s seat for preferments.

Harry Reid, who believes Balgojevich’s choice has been tainted, has said he will refuse to seat Burris.

The question arises: Is Burris “tainted” because he was selected to fill the seat by the disreputable Blagojevich?

Any fair-minded moralist would answer “No.” Reid has not been called upon to seat a choice, but rather a man who, many will agree, is not tainted because Blagojevich had been practicing Tammany Hall politics as governor of Illinois. Bad men can make good appointments. When other good men confirm those appointments, they are nor affirming the bad behavior of those who have made the appointment. The senate, under the direction of Reid, has been called upon to seat a man who has been constitutionally appointed to a position that he either merits or does not merit.

That is what they should do – no more, no less.


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