Opinion

Commentary: Rhetoric from Bobby Rush is passe

Who would've thought that Bobby Rush, the Chicago congressman, would remind me of the last woman I almost married?

Naw, not the mustache: Hers was thicker.

It's Rush's penchant for overstatement, for going for the jugular in every instance, that makes me remember the last not-quite-so-Sweet Thang so unfondly.

With her, every argument, no matter how small, became an all-out assault.

For instance, let me mash on the brakes of the car too hard or pick up the wrong brand of salt from the store, and I instantly became – to use her favorite term of endearment for me – a worthless idiot.

It's the same with Rush. Senate Democrats who indicated they won't acknowledge Roland Burris as the U.S. Senate replacement for Barack Obama are suddenly being compared to the vilest racists in our country's history.

Forget that Burris was appointed by Rod Blagojevich, the scandal-riddled Illinois governor heard on tapes apparently trying to sell the seat for cash.

Despite that, Rush leaped at the opportunity to inject race into an issue in which it has no place. He used evocative phrases such as "lynch and hang" and compared senators who might oppose Blago's appointee to Bull Connors and George Wallace.

Obscured by Rush's inflammatory comments was a legitimately arguable point. "We're still a nation of laws," he was quoted in published reports as saying, "and I believe that Roland Burris and Gov. Blagojevich, they're on solid constitutional grounds."

As governor, Blago has a constitutional right to appoint a replacement, but considering the stench emanating from the governor's office these days, the Senate has every right to ignore his appointment until his legal case is settled.

After the governor announced the appointment, Rush leaped upon the microphone and said, "Let me just remind you that there presently is no African-American in the U.S. Senate."

That stinks, to be sure, but if a brother or sister gets into the Senate he or she shouldn't be burdened with the credibility issues that come from being Blago's pick.

As for Rush's flame-throwing rhetoric, there was indeed a time when the forces of the U.S. government were arrayed against him and the Black Panthers Party he co-founded. He must realize, though, that the same weapons used in defending one's self against J. Edgar Hoover's FBI aren't the same weapons you need when defending an appointment by a man many consider an Elvis-looking crook. Blago looks like he could break out singing "Hunka Hunka Burnin' Love" at any minute.

Perhaps that's Rush's problem. Do you reckon he got confused by Blagojevich's 1960s-era, aging-teen-idol hairdo and thought he himself was back in the '60s, back in the Panthers?

There will most assuredly be times when race will unfairly exclude or include someone from seeking a deserved position, but this isn't one of those times.

As we enter a new year, a new era in American history, the country needs to put away the outmoded rhetoric and ideals of the 1960s -- just as it did on Nov. 4.

You, too, Bobby.

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