Roland Burris, America's Bravest Politician | NBC New York

Roland Burris, America's Bravest Politician

Every revelation shows us his limitless ambition and refreshing lack of shame

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    In retrospect, the mausoleum offered a strong clue that we were dealing with a bit of an egomaniac.

    All other politicians in America, observe Roland Burris and weep. Weep, for you are not half as boldly ambitious, as brazen, or as borderline insane as this audacious man from Chicago. Roland Burris commits feats of daring before breakfast that a person with slightly more tact or dignity would refuse to do without several stiff shots of tequila and a guarantee of anonymity.

    Burris was virtually the only half-legitimate Democratic political figure in the entire state of Illinois willing to accept a Senate appointment from then-governor Rod Blagojevich, whom you'll recall wandered around under a darkening cloud of corruption his last few months in office. Sensible politicians wished to avoid this cloud at all costs -- but not Roland Burris. He happily accepted Blago's appointment, and then he took his show on the road.

    He went down to Washington D.C. to attempt to get into the Capitol, and when he was predictably turned away he was just as predictably enabled to make a big media opportunity out of it. In just a few short days, his proxies had accused Harry Reid and his fellow senators of being unreconstructed racists who just didn't want another black man in their elite club. And in the end, Burris prevailed because there wasn't really anything the Senate could do to block an appointment by a sitting governor.

    Then that sitting governor was impeached and thrown out of office for attempting to wring hot dollars from people who wanted to be considered for President Obama's former Senate seat.

    So now it comes out that Burris, who had told the Illinois House impeachment committee that he had "talked to some friends about [his] desire to be appointed," had spoken specifically with Rod Blagojevich's brother, three times, and each time Blago's brother asked him for a campaign contribution.

    Ha ha! Yes. But the joke is on us, or the Illinois state legislature, or certainly somebody besides Roland Burris. He's safely installed in the Senate, and while Illinois state Republicans have their knickers in a twist, it's doubtful that anybody else -- certainly any Democrat -- really has the stomach for yet another corruption scandal or another forcible removal from office. Democrats are having a hard time keeping their own around these days.

    More likely Burris will serve out a brief, ignominious term and get knocked out in the 2010 primaries. Then he can retire to Illinois, a place he never should have left in the first place.

    Sara K. Smith writes for NBC and Wonkette.