The Audacity of Mediocrity

Danny Davis must be kicking himself.

Rep. Davis (D) got the first offer to be the next senator from Illinois, but he didn’t want to be tainted. It’s not clear if he didn’t want to be tainted as a senator or as a Blagojevich lackey, but it is widely known that he said thanks but no thanks when the offer came in.

Roland Burris had no such qualms. As the famous Tammany Hall politician George Washington Plunkitt once said, Burris has “seen his opportunities and he took ’em.”

Next to the definition of political hack in the dictionary sits a picture of Roland Burris. If Barack Obama promised the audacity of hope, Burris promises the audacity of mediocrity.

But you’ve got to give the old man credit. He played his cards as beautifully as Greg Raymer in the World Series of Poker a couple of years ago. Of course, it is always nice to be able to trump your opponents with the ever-valuable race card.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who just recently promised to serve as leader until 2015 (both the Mayans and Nostradamus have predicted the world would end in 2012), badly misplayed his hand. He went all in without even looking at his cards.

Now he has had to reverse course and let Mr. Burris into the vaunted upper chamber. Clearly, he doesn’t think Burris will be able to win in a couple of years, in a statewide election, so don’t look for Reid to be giving Burris a prime committee slot from which to defend his precarious hold on the seat. In fact, Reid didn’t think much of any of the African-American candidates Hot Rod was thinking about naming to the Senate. He was pushing for the white guys.

Not to say that Reid is a racist. No, he is a political pragmatist (at least on the issue of race), and his pragmatism first steered him against Burris and now steers him with Burris.

Of course, the most honorable thing that the Democrats could have done was to let the people of Illinois decide. They could have pushed for a special election, and they could have brought some honor to this whole debacle. But they knew that if they had done so, they would have lost to a Republican like Rep. Mark Kirk. Couldn’t have that, so now they are stuck with Roland Burris.

Barack Obama must be very proud. It looks like the audacity of hope just got trumped by the audacity of mediocrity.



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