Say what you will about embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), but he successfully outmaneuvered President-elect Obama and the entire Democratic leadership in the U.S. Senate to have Roland Burris seated as the next junior senator of his state.

First, President-elect Obama stated last week that Burris should not be seated, as his appointment by Gov. Blagojevich was tainted. Consider next the following statement, also from last week, by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.): “Under these circumstances, anyone appointed by Gov. Blagojevich cannot be an effective representative of the people of Illinois and, as we have said, will not be seated by the Democratic caucus.”

Game, set, match, right? The president-elect and Senate Democratic leadership won’t seat Burris, and damn the lawful action by the scandal-plagued governor.

Well, following Burris’s singing-in-the-rain press conference on Tuesday evening, followed by threats from the Congressional Black Caucus and irresponsible race-baiting comments by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), this is how Sen. Reid responded yesterday: “He is obviously a very engaging, extremely nice man. He presents himself very well.” So much for all the talk about the ineffectiveness and taint of Burris by the Democrats about his ability to be an effective senator.

What troubles me most about this entire Burris fiasco is the manner in which the race card was employed repeatedly. Rush should be ashamed of himself for referring to the Senate as the “last bastion of plantation politics.” What an utterly stupid and irresponsible comment.

We will never evolve as a post-racial society in America when people demand or believe they are entitled to a certain outcome based merely on race. I would like to see more African-Americans in the U.S. Senate, but in order for that to happen, blacks will have to run for higher office. Turning the Burris affair into an instance of racism is not only dumb but inflammatory.

Having the race card turned against them is not something Democrats are used to — witness how fast the Senate leadership reversed itself to find a way to accommodate Burris’s demand to be seated. I suspect Gov. Blagojevich knew exactly what he was doing when he appointed an African-American to serve out the remainder of Obama’s term in the Senate. Rather than focus on the manner in which the governor disgraced himself and his office, he bargained that there would be those who would play the race card, thereby shifting the attention from Blagojevich to yet another referendum on race. Looks like Blago knew exactly what he was doing.