What a difference a week can make!
This time last Monday the headlines read: Roland Burris expects to be turned away from the U.S. Senate. And Mr. Burris' expectations were fulfilled. When he arrived in the nation's capitol to be sworn in with incoming senators, he was not welcomed. He did not create a spectacle nor did he disparage those who denied him the Senate seat to which he had been appointed by embattled Illinois governor, Rod Blagojevich.
Instead, Mr. Burris stood on the Capitol grounds and told reporters he would consult with his attorneys and repeated he had done nothing wrong. He pointed to his record: he served the people of Illinois with honor as attorney general for one term and three terms as comptroller. But the unspoken hung in the cold January air like icicles: Roland Burris was caught in the investigative net that covers Rod Blagojevich.
Governor Blagojevich had been told not to appoint anyone to the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama. Yet, Blagojevich did, and he chose Roland Burris after another well-known Illinois politican declined the appointment. Burris accepted the appointment with enthusiam and resolve. His optimism seemed almost naive.
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White refused to certify the appointment. The Democratic leadership discouraged Burris. And the whole country watched the show. California Senator Dianne Feinstein offered hope, saying she thought Burris should be seated. Meanwhile, Roland Burris returned to Illinois and testified in impeachment hearings for Governor Blagojevich. The would-be Senator emphasized he did not participate in a pay-to-play scheme. Last Friday, the Illinois Senate impeached Rod Blagojevich. And over the weekend, U.S. Senate officials researched the legality of Burris' appointment.
Late today Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Roland Burris will be seated in the United States Senate. Mr. Burris said, "I am thankful for the opportunity to serve, and I ask for your support and prayers."
The decision caps a reversal of political fortunes for Mr. Burris. It also proves mettle, timing, and faith matter in politics...and life.