A closed letter to Sen. Roland Burris

Dear Senator Burris,

My name is Scott Green and I’m here to help. I’m an expert on thriving despite not doing anything useful for the length of a senate term, what with being a college student for six years.

Although I’m writing this in a newspaper, it’s not an “open letter.” (Too much of the advice is illegal.) It’s a closed letter, for your eyes only. Everyone else: Why not try today’s crossword? The theme is “ambidextrous fast food mascots.”

Just you and me, Senator? Good. Your biggest problem, as far as I can tell, is that you’re accused of offering bribes to Rod Blagojevich’s people to get appointed to the senate. The good news is that you already know they take bribes, so you can pay them to lie about it.

See, you haven’t been an Illinois political “insider” in years. You were so far out of the loop, you didn’t even know the senate seat was for sale until the governor was arrested. But this could also be a liability, because it plays into the perception you’re not to be taken seriously.

After all, you’re the guy who said “I’m not some fluke or perennial candidate” before the first of three failed runs for governor. You named your children Roland II and Rolanda. You built a tombstone listing your life accomplishments, including – I saw photos – “First African-American in Illinois to become S.I.U. exchange student to University of Hamburg, Germany.”

Still, for some reason people see you as unserious and egotistical. Your best bet is to embrace this image. You’re a modern day Don Quixote! People love that book. It’s about a Spanish guy who has delusions about being a big important knight, when in fact he’s a corrupt U.S. senator. Just have someone pronounce his name before you try it in front of people.

It’s all about spinning, an area in which you’re obviously skilled. Last week you visited a few cities in the northern half of the state, where you spoke at length to your supporters. You called this your “listening tour” of Illinois.

Unfortunately you have a real problem with guilt, because you admitted you lied to the state legislature after learning Patrick Fitzgerald might have proof on tape. If you’re going to come clean for every little federal prosecutor who’s recorded you committing a crime, you’ll never make it in politics.

This is the exact moment when master politicians become most belligerent. “That could have been anyone named Roland Burris with my exact same voice,” you should have bellowed, then very publicly spent time with Roland II, Rolanda, Rolandetta, Rolandroid, Dnalor, Roland VIII, Rolling-Rolling-Roland, and Steve.

But you didn’t, and now everyone wants your resignation, including Dick Durbin, Pat Quinn, the black leaders who originally supported your appointment – pretty much everyone but Blagojevich, who hasn’t been paid to take a position on the issue.

Luckily it’s not up to them – it’s up to you. And I say you stay in the senate, because you left blank space on your tombstone for future accomplishments. It’s important you fill it, because otherwise some practical joker will add lies like “Adult Film Star” or “He Will Be Missed.”

It is often said the measure of a man is how he acts at the tipping point, when the game is on the line, he is between a rock and the other thing, the chips come home to roost, the metaphors are mixed, and his former supporters want him to resign.

It happens to the best of us – but this time, Senator Burris, it’s happened to you.

Scott Green

P.S. It’s “kee-HO-tay.”

Scott is a third-year law student. He’s accomplished nothing.