Irrelevance, Interrupted...

He came to the swamplands of the Potomac swathed in a cloud of scandal. He's been ignored since the day he arrived at his new job.

And today, my senator, Roland Burris, has me humming a little Janis Joplin right now (lyrics by the talented Kris Kristofferson)...

"Freedom's just another word, for nothing left to lose
And nothing's all that [Roddy] left me, yah."

Yes, Roland Burris rolled into Washington with a a whole lotta nothing in his back pocket. He'd been handed the senate seat by a man charged with trying to sell it, Rod Blagojevich, the Kipling-quoting ex-gov of Illinois – and allegedly a future "Celebrity Apprentice" contestant.

(Can one be The Donald's apprentice from behind bars? Because the ex-gov's someday going to stand trial on corruption charges and sometimes such things end up with a jail term....)

So Roland Burris came to DC as a lame duck senator, with just two years left in the term Obama left when he became president. Because of the scandal surrounding his appointment, because a great many people believed Roland wanted to carve out "Senator" on that big old gravestone he's already purchased for himself, wanted the title of senator badly enough to purchase the rights to it, Roland Burris has been utterly irrelevant in Washington. He was supposed to show up, remain quiet, vote the way the Dems wanted him to vote. And for a good few months, Roland has behaved. He's been quiet.

Until now. The man from Illinois has decided that his lame duck status has given him a certain power. Like that sad, mournful lover of Bobby McGee, Roland's got nothing to lose - and he's taken that bit of nothing Rod gave him and maneuvered his way to the front and center of the health care debate.

In one of the most hotly contested issues of 2009 - in a year filled with bitterly contested issues - Roland Burris has drawn a line in the sand. He will not vote for any "health care reform" unless it includes the public option.

And thus, the most irrelevant man in Washington has made himself utterly relevant once again. In a town devoted to ensuring the interests of health insurers and banks are well-served, Roland Burris wants to make sure the public is not totally forgotten.

So for all those lobbyists working so hard to sway our senators and reps to do their bidding, I close with another Janis Joplin song of "great social and political importance." Here's what the highly paid lobbyists are working so hard for out there in the swamps...


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