So. What is crazy accidental Illinois Senator Roland Burris up to, these days? Oh, just Senate stuff, you know. Talking about health care. Giving speeches. Asking utterly insane questions at pointless hearings about imaginary Czars.
When beloved former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich appointed Roland Burris to Obama's Senate seat, because Burris is black and because Blago could, we all thought, at first, that Blago had selected a competent public official, just to ensure an easy political victory on his way out of office. This Burris fellow is a former Illinois Attorney General! He is well-respected! How boring!
But no, Blago would not do that to us. Blago so loved the United States Senate that he appointed it a crazy egomaniac with a giant stone shrine to himself.
And so, at a Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing last week on the subject of "czars," Burris asked a lot of very important questions about the Constitution. Dave Weigel has the full transcript, and all of it is worth your time. But, wow, any portion of it is worth quoting.
[Burris:] Every president's going to go through it. I don't even know how we in the Congress can legally - I mean, I heard the distinguished ranking member say that we passed a law. We can pass a law and say there's going to be a position in there, but I don't think the Congress can tell the president who to put in that position.
I mean, if we do that, then I think that we're violating the separation of powers. I mean, this is what we get into. And you can create a position. What happens if - what happens if the president says, "I don't want to appoint anybody as secretary of state. I'm going to use the undersecretary as an acting secretary"?
Is there a law that would require us or require the president to appoint a secretary of state? Is there? Is there?
CASEY: A law that requires the president to appoint a secretary of state?
CASEY: Specifically, there would not be a law requiring him to do that. Now, of course, if he wants the functions that you vested in a secretary of state performed, he - he probably has to do…
BURRIS: But there is no law that says he has to even appoint a secretary of state, is that - am I correct?
BURRIS: There's a statute that says there's a position - a secretary of state position…
CASEY: Right, right - shall be appointed in the following - yes - I'm unaware of any…
BURRIS: But is there a law that says the president has to make that appointment?
CASEY: Not that I'm aware of.
After admitted cocaine-user and celebrity comedian Al Franken disappointed everyone by turning out to be a smart and serious US Senator, we must rely on Burris even more to entertain us with examples of how broken and useless the United States Senate is.
(Speaking of Czars! The Senate continues to refuse to confirm anyone Obama appoints to anything and then complain when he hires people they didn't confirm.)