Wednesday, January 14, 2009


From Politico's Roger Simon:

How come Roland Burris has had such an easy time getting to the U.S. Senate while Caroline Kennedy has had such a hard time?

Could it be that the race card trumps the gender card in U.S. politics?

Well, yes. It could be.

Once supporters of Roland Burris made his appointment to the Senate all about race, the deal was done, though it took a few days for Senate leaders to wake up to the fact....

Oh, crap -- are we back in the spring of 2008, when every shift in the relative standing of one black man and one white woman took on the force of a universal law applicable to all African-Americans and women?

Roland Burris triumphed not just because of the race card, but because Senate Democrats didn't have a legal leg to stand on -- his appointment, despite the identity of the appointer, was perfectly lawful, as the Senate belatedly realized. As for Kennedy, I'm struggling to understand how the resistance to her appointment can be the result of sexism when quite a bit of it is coming from people (including feminists of long standing) who want Governor Paterson to pick one of several other women who've been recommended for the job.

If you really believe that you can judge the relative status of all blacks and women from the fact that Burris is a senator will be a senator as of tomorrow and Kennedy isn't won't be, try reversing the situation:

Imagine that Eliot Spitzer is still governor of New York and only recently got caught with his pants down (and his socks on), but is hanging tough and refusing to resign. Now imagine that the Senate and the president-elect have said that Spitzer shouldn't pick a replacement senator for Hillary Clinton -- but he defies them (and possibly tries to save his job) by picking an ally of the president-elect, Caroline Kennedy. A review of the appointment reveals that it meets all legal criteria, the governor's embattled status notwithstanding.

Now imagine that Rod Blagojevich has given in and resigned. The accidental new governor, Pat Quinn, is worried about a weakened party, so he tries to find a candidate who might have the political mojo to win the next election. Meanwhile, pressure builds on him to replace Barack Obama with an African-American, and Burris's name is repeatedly mentioned -- but Quinn hesitates, worrying that the frequently defeated Burris will be beatable in 2010.

Is it so hard to imagine that, under these circumstances, either Caroline Kennedy would sail through the doors of the Senate or she would be welcomed after an initial rejection that caused the Senate great embarrassment? And is it so hard to imagine that, while all this was happening, Roland Burris might just have to sit and wait?

No comments: