As various chapters in the Roland Burris saga unfold, all I keep thinking is how totally unsurprising it is that there are all sorts of problems with his various testimony to various tribunals, all adding up to the fact that Burris is not a person of good character, at least if being of good character includes not dissembling to the public when you want to serve in a position of public trust. The latest is that Burris, an attorney, lied to the Illinois Supreme Court, putting his law license at risk. Call me formalistic if you like, but the bottom line is that lawyers' codes of professional responsibility require them to be candid with tribunals, particularly courts. Candid. Not just honest, but forthcoming and open. Whatever else Roland Burris has or has not been, he most definitely has not been candid throughout the process of finagling his way into the U.S. Senate. He has dissembled, race-baited, played the victim: you name it, if it served his goal he did it. He even tried to pay to play, but just happened not to succeed.
Coming on the heels of tax evader Timothy Geithner and just generally evasive Bill Richardson and slippery Tom Daschle, it is a miracle that anybody in the country ever gets behind any politician. But the Burris situation is one of those that really makes an ordinary citizen shake her or his head in wonder. Why did anybody - including Reid and Barack Obama - bother saying anything positive about Burris when the obvious thing to do would be to say nothing at all, given the odds that somebody who would accept an appointment to the U.S. Senate from somebody as apparently corrupt as Rod Blagojevich, would be unlikely to be a particularly truthful person?
Meanwhile, some federal legislators are trying to force more candor from the executive with legislation meant to limit the "state secrets doctrine." Learn more here.