I'm in the mood to rant for reasons unknown (maybe it was my morning cup of coffee), and what better place to do it than here.
Stanley Fish thinks that St. Augustine would want Roland Burris to get his Senate seat. As much as it excites me to read about the Donatist controversy on the New York Times' website, I don't think the lesson fits. Fish claims that those who consider Burris's appointment tainted make "the lawfulness of an official action . . . depend[ent] on the purity of the person who performs it." That would be an accurate depiction, perhaps, if Blagojevich were tainted by adultery, or dogfighting, or cheating at Uno. But the taint in this case applies directly to the means by which Burris received the appointment to the Senate. It's more than Blagojevich's overall purity that is in question: it is his purity in the very act of appointing Burris to the seat.
(If we conduct a thought experiment and imagine Eliot Spitzer having continued as an embattled governor in New York, Fish's argument might apply to his appointment of a replacement for Hillary Clinton's seat. I wonder if Spitzer is watching Blagojevich now, thinking, "Dang, I could have held on a lot longer if I'd just stuck to my guns.")
Now, readers of this blog will suspect that I have a deep dislike for Blagojevich. These suspicions are true. I can only hope that the Illinois Senate removes him from office now that he's been impeached. But I disliked him from the moment I saw his name. Not because I have anything against the Slavs. Not at all. You see, I first saw his name on those open road tolling arches that span our interstates. I remember taking an instant dislike to any politician who puts his own name on public spaces. Is it any surprise that such a person would use public resources to benefit himself, to fund his political future?
My opinion of Jesse White has risen 300% by his refusal to sign Burris's credentials. But something leads me to believe that his own character resembles Blagojevich's more than he'd like us to think.