Seems as if Congressman Bobby Rush, and his coalition of respected African American Chicago clergy, have significantly raised the stakes in the head-to-head matchup with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The pastors, outraged at the audacity of Reid to use his position as presider over the U.S. Senate to wield power in an effort to determine who can and cannot sit in the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama, will not allow what appears a blantant throw-back to the Civil Rights struggles of the 60s.
Approximately 60-powerful Black ministers joined Rush in backing Senator-elect Roland Burris' appointment to the seat, in spite of threats by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to bar him from entering the Senate chambers. Without a doubt this brouhaha places the subject of "race" front and center in American politics... again, as an all-White Senate refuses to allow Burris––who would be the only Black person representing that august body––to serve.
Rush, a Chicago Democrat, called the U.S. Senate "the last bastion of plantation politics."
"We are just faced with a hard-headed room of people in the Senate who want to keep an African-American out of the Senate," Rush said at a public send-off for Burris at a local Chicago church recently.
President-elect Obama, who is at opposite position with the Black congressman, Black faith leaders and community, as he is in agreement with Senator Reid that Burris should not be allowed to take his former seat. Obama agrees that Burris is a qualified individual for the job, but because of the cloud currently shadowing Governor Rod Blagojevich, he appears to have sided with Reid on this fiasco. Obama, while campaigning as a post-racial candidate, many in the Black community feels he owes his ascension to the highest office in the land to the overwhelming support and turn-out of African Americans, including Burris, Rush and the ministers across the country.
Obama may find himself having to accept defeat on this one, and begin signaling immediately to Senator Reid, Congressman Rush and the Black community that Burris' appointment, while not ideal, is legal... consequently, he must be seated.
The President-elect can't afford to get mired in the Black versus White "race" ditch at this juncture, as he has too many other culture wars to mediate coming out of the gate: Jews versus the Islams in Gaza, Unions versus Wall Street, gays versus the Christian right... just to name a few.