Taking to the podium at the end of a bizarre, shambolic press conference in which Governor Rod Blagojevich sought to appoint Roland Burris to the US Senate, Congressman Bobby Rush dared white Democratic senators to block a black man from joining their ranks.
He urged people “not to hang or lynch the appointee as you try to castigate the appointer” and, after saying repeatedly that Burris would be the only African-American in the Senate, said that he believed no senator would want “to go on record to deny one African-American from being seated in the US Senate”.
Rush is a former Black Panther who trounced Barack Obama in the 2000 Democratic primary when the then state senator challenged him for his House of Representatives seat.
The grinning Burris was told by Blagojevich—who policed the press conference—that “you’re the senator”. He appeared clueless about the money he’d donated to the governor, which will only add to the taint of the appointment.
As he left the room, Blagojevich echoed Rush, saying: “Feel free to castigate the appointer but don’t lynch the appointee.”
Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, has already said that Burris “cannot be an effective representatives of the people of Illinois” and “will not be seated by the Democratic caucus”. But the blatant injection of race into the equation will make life very uncomfortable indeed for Obama and his party.