The one and only Roland Burris was in Edwardsville this week, on a "learning and listening" tour of the state he represents in the U.S. Senate.
The local press reported his "tour" with a straight face. This wasn't some political rookie talking. Burris is a veteran office holder first elected statewide 30 years ago.
His "learning tour" doesn't impress us. We expect leadership from our experienced state representatives in the world's most powerful deliberative body, not faux learning on the job.
Like most of our nation, Illinois is writhing in economic crisis, facing a soaring unemployment rate and a future bereft of economic growth. Our U.S. Senator needn't be "learning and listening;" he should be "solving and doing."
We've had it with the empty words of politicians who use their precious platform not to advocate their own ideas and solutions, but instead to pretend to ask us what we think they should be doing.
Burris isn't the only one who has rolled through the Metro-East at some point, purportedly with open ears. But he's surely one of the most ironic, having served in statewide office twice and run four more times for office unsuccessfully.
This guy has been around.
The "listening" tactic is nothing but a masquerade. Burris is here to "listen" to the those voices who might support him to run for the post he infamously got from the impeached and indicted former governor, Rod Blagojevich.
He's starting early on the campaign trail. He wants us to like him--to keep him filling his belly at the public trough.
Is he pretending to be interested in our own issues and ideas? It wouldn't be the first time a politician cared little about what we citizens have to say. Ex-governor Blagojevich got elected promising to clean up the corruption left in the wake of jailed ex-governor George Ryan. He said he clearly heard from the voters who were tired of corruption. Was he really listening?
The people don't elect U.S. Senators so they can inquire of us what we want them to do. We elevate them to important leadership positions because we trust they have more seasoned judgment than us.
We choose them to make critical decisions for us. And if we don't like them, we can vote them out at the end of their term. That's how it is supposed to work.
If Burris truly is wandering about downstate trying to learn what we need, the question is why didn't he learn anything during thirty-plus years of political opportunism?
One can't spend all one's time overseeing the carving of empty accomplishments on one's unoccupied and undignified mausoleum.
There are scores of reasons for throwing out Sen. Burris at the end of his tainted term. Add another one to the list.