Political Hay

Saving Senator Burris

This Trial Blazer's résumé is far more impressive than President Obama's.

By 2.27.09

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Fellow Fairness Fanatics: you are invited to a Kaffee Klatsch ($1,000 per sustainably farmed, responsibly purchased organic cup) to show support for Senator Roland Burris, the Democrat who was appointed by Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich to fill the seat vacated by Barack Obama.

The appointment of Senator Burris (the only black in the U.S. Senate) was unquestionably legal even though, shortly after he made the appointment, Governor Blagojevich was impeached, because of, he says, his enemies' misinterpretation of the First Amendment.

The problem Senator Burris's detractors claim to have with the good senator is that he apparently gets confused when answering questions and filling out affidavits. He was asked whether he had been involved in fund-raising for Gov. Blagojevich and he said, more or less, no. And his friends may have to concede that he should have said, more or less, yes, or at least a bit more of the yes and a bit less of the no than he actually did say.

But, hey, that's awfully technical. Like not paying the taxes you owe when you work for the International Monetary Fund. Or failing to report all that rental income you got from a luxury beachfront villa in the Caribbean. Or like getting a sweetheart loan from Countrywide Financial because you were a friend of the CEO, Angelo Mozilo, while you're serving on a congressional banking committee.

Clearly Senator Burris will fit in quite well with his new colleagues. So what's the problem? A quick look at his résumé tells us much.

The senator went to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (where he was known as Trail Blazer, or just "TB") and he has a law degree from Howard University, which is only a little more than a 'v' away from Harvard, where President Obama went.

The senator began his career as a bank examiner for the U.S. Treasury Department -- Barack Obama never did that -- and has served as vice president of Continental Illinois National Bank -- wow! Barack Obama never did that ("BONDT") -- and as President of the National Association of Comptrollers (BONDT) and of the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers, and Treasurers -- wow again. BONDT.

Impressive? Yes. But there's more. The senator was also a Trustee of the Financial Accounting Foundation Board (BONDT) and served for three years on the Executive Board of the Government Finance Office Association of the United States and Canada. Double BONDT!

Let's face it: this guy knows something about banking -- and perhaps a lot more than most of his new "colleagues" who are up to their keisters writing bailout bills.

Senator Burris was also the first African-American National Bank Examiner for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency for the U.S. Treasury Department. Wow! And his 1978 election to the first of three terms as Illinois state comptroller made him the first African American ever elected to an Illinois state office.  The senator has also been recognized annually for sixteen years (!) by Ebony Magazine as one of the hundred most influential Black Americans.  Wow again! Seriously wow!

As busy as he's been, however, the senator has nevertheless found time to give back to his community. Burris has served on nonprofit organizations, including the National Center for Responsible Gaming (my god, he's a gambler! That means he might be better at rolling dice than Rep. Barney Frank), and he served on the board of the Auditorium Theatre of Chicago (my god, he's an actor! Like -- like -- that guy who beat Jimmy Carter).

It is perfectly apparent that TB Burris is a very distinguished man, which is why he's listed in Who's Who in America, Who's Who in Government, Who's Who in Law, and Who's Who in Who's Who.

Let's face it: TB Burris has the talent. Let's face something else: TB's résumé is more impressive than President Obama's. No, seriously! TB hasn't just talked the talk, or walked the walk. He's hoped the hope, and changed the change. 

Some people just can't stand competition, so now "they" want to get rid of TB, like a bad disease. This is a tough town.

The question Washington is asking today is, TB or no TB?

Help frame the answer.  Come to our "Kaffe and Kash for TB" -- before his enemies cashier him out. 

TB FOREVER.

Well, until the next election anyway. 

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About the Author

Daniel Oliver is a Senior Director of White House Writers Group in Washington, D.C. He served as Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission under President Ronald Reagan.