January 6th, 2009
12:28 PM ET
14 years ago

Cleaver: This cannot be a 'black seat'

(CNN) - Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, the new vice chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said Tuesday President-elect Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat should not viewed as 'the black seat.'

“Mr. Burris will be seated or won’t be seated on the basis of what happens in a court. I don’t think it’s in the people of Illinois’ interests for us to color that seat," Cleaver told reporters on Capitol Hill. "That seat can’t be the black seat. If that happens we begin to lose the progress we made.”

Those comments appear at odds with views of Rep. Bobby Rush, who has implored Senate Democrats to seat Burris because there are currently no African-American members of the Senate, and called the currently all-white chamber the "the last bastion of plantation politics."

soundoff (113 Responses)
  1. Jazz

    I agree with Cleaver. No one should be seated anywhere because they are black. Mr. Burris wants a handout but not because he is black. This Senate should go to anyone of any color. Mr. Burris just because Obama is black dosen't give you are any black person the right to call this racism. Jackson step back and look at how the fool appointed this black man over you and see if that was appropriate or just a mistake. Jackson is black but why didn't he get picked over Burris? People wake up and stop putting race into every picture when things so wrong.

    January 6, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  2. Mick

    Why did Burris meet with 30 black ministers from Chicago before going to Washington? Tell me why when a black politician is speaking must there be a huge hoard of black people standing on the stage behind them? This is all about race. Just listen to Rep. Bobby Rush.

    I persomally do not care what color the new senator happens to be as long as he is qualified. I'm not so sure we need a guy like Burris who is already 71 years old. Why would anyone want to get involved in the senate at that age? We have much younger more qualied people to represent those of us from Illinois.

    January 6, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  3. kay

    That man Burris should be no where near the Senate. I am a black man and this is getting to embarrassing for me.

    Why should any black person say Burris is being denied a senate sut because he is black in a country that just elected a black president.

    I heard that Burris say this in MSNBC the other night. He does not respresent me and never will. He think he is not tainted like Bloago... well.. we will see.

    January 6, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  4. MAD

    I don't understand why Roland Burris allowed himself to be put in the middle of this mess. This isn't a black thing or a white thing. It's whether or not the Gov. of Illinois engaged in criminal activity.

    I would like to see some Black, Asian and Latinso elected to the Senate but the key word is, elected. It's up to the American people to make that happen.

    I agree with Rep. Cleaver.

    January 6, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  5. Barbara

    I very much agree with Rep. Cleaver. Race is not and should not be made the issue regarding this Senate seat.

    The issue, from my prospective, is Roland Burris' judgment. I question why he would accept a seat from a tainted governor in defiance of his own party. The Democratic controlled Senate made it clear early on that given the ethical cloud Blagojevich is under, they would accept no one Blagojevich appointed. Under these circumstances, can Mr. Burris really attempt to serve the people of Illinois well by accepting this appointment?

    January 6, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  6. WELCOME TO THE OBAMA SHOW!!!!!!!!!!!!







    January 6, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  7. Mike, Syracuse NY

    A surprisingly sane viewpoint from Rep. Clever. Weird Al Sharpton and Racism-is-the-answer-what's-the-question Jesse Jackson sure have been quiet about this. I've also not heard Obama make a definitive staement on whether Burris should be seated or not. He has just said the appointment is 'disappointing'. How about a position, or do you need a month to study the polls?

    January 6, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  8. Gracie

    These African American Politicians need to just "coo the hell out". First of all, this is NOT about black or white. It was CLEARLY stated that anyone named by the Governor whose corrupt and dirty up to his nose would NOT be seated. Bottom line. What part of that didn't Mr. Burris NOT understand? If was truly an honorable man. Mr. Burris would have announced at a press conference that he would accept the nomination ONLY if the Chicago Senate APPROVES of his nomination!! That's the RIGHT THING TO DO!!! But he DID NOT, WHY?

    Mr. Burris knows he was NEVER the best choice in Chicago. Where was the Governor's support when he ran 5 times and LOST?? Blagovegich would NEVER has nominated Mr. Burris if he wasn't BUSTED for being corrupt and dirty. Let's call it like it is.

    Mr. Burris is CLEARLY is becoming MORE and MORE like the Governor himself. He's playing the political "black token" game and will LIE, STEAL AND CHEAT his way into the Senate Seat every time he opens his mouth. This whole notion that he doesn't want to cause any confrontations is nothing but HOGWASH!!! Mr. Burris is the "ring leader" in the circus show.

    January 6, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  9. Adam from KC

    Cleaver is one of the most brilliant politicians in Congress, and Representative Rush would do well to listen to his advice. Burris might be the best person for the job, but that should be decided once the embattled Governor steps down...

    January 6, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  10. J.P..

    Tee hee hee! As a conservative, I have to say that Blago is the gift that keeps on giving. Legally, he has only been accused of something, not convicted of it... so technically, his Senate appointment is fine and dandy and yes, legal.

    But, tastefully, the guy is like a crap sandwich, and any appointment he makes is only going to taste like a condiment worthy of a crap sandwich.

    Through no fault of his own, Blago's fully-legal appointment, Burris, has become an albatross around the necks of Congressional dems. And not just an albatross, but tinged with racism, too.

    So Congressional Dems, you have a choice... uphold both the U.S. and Illinois Constitutions and look sleazy beyond belief in the process (see "Chicago politics"), or violate the Constitutions of both, and look racist instead. Like I said, Blago is the gift that keeps on giving. That said, I'm going to pop some popcorn and enjoy the show! Woo hoo!

    January 6, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  11. Melinda Charlotte, NC

    Too late...it already is. I would bet my house and everything I own that the junior senator from IL, whomever she or he ultimately turns out to be( I believe the Burris pick will stick ) , will be African American. Period.

    January 6, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  12. Mike in NYC

    Remember that BO defeated black GOPer Alan Keyes for said Senate seat.

    Unofficially designating certain public offices for "minorities" will, in all likelihood, become an accepted part of US politics through the acquiescence of both parties.

    January 6, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  13. RTB

    To Mike...
    Obama came out early on and stated very clearly that Blago should step aside and that no one will be accepted as an appointee of Blago.

    Where have you been?

    January 6, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  14. Joe Fattal

    I don't know, but there is something in it that might involve Mr. Obama, and they aren't saying anything about it. Maybe a deal was made back then about Mr. Burris taking Mr. Obama's senate seat. Maybe race is involved. Obama as a black man been elected as president, Mr. Burris as another black man to be appointed senator by Gov. Blago. And Gov. Blago which had made some kind of a deal with some of Obama's transition team, or maybe Mr. Obama himself. If I was Mr. Obama I'll probably should tell them to hold on to my seat for a little longer, I might need it back. I think that seat need to be display in a gallery with the attention is getting. Now I know why Gov. Blago was trying to sell it.

    January 6, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  15. Steve from Florida

    I agree with Rep Cleaver's well thought out words. He is right on the mark!

    January 6, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  16. Scott Myers

    Innocent until proven guilty when you're Richardson you even get to go take you old job back but if you go against BOA like Blago then you are absolutely guilty no question about it don't even need an indictment. So the media has shown me the difference between Richardson and Blago is that one is "obviously innocent" while the other is "obviously guilty". This sets one of the worst precedents in our history. One that makes the courtroom the court of public opinion which doesn't require any evidence. Do not miss what is happening here this is a coup d'etat in Illinois.

    January 6, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  17. Ellie

    Mr. Burris knows EXACTLY what he's doing. He's causing as much chaos as he possibly can. He KNEW from the start anyone named by the Governor would NOT be seated. Mr. Burris knew this fact, but chose to ignore it as usual. He's so GREEDY and wants the Senate seat he could not get elected to 5 times! He ran 5 times and LOST!!! What does that say?

    Mr. Burris continues to play the "victim" here but everyone knows he's the center of the circus and continues to do everything to cause MORE media chaos every time he opens his mouth.

    If Mr. Burris was truly and Honorable man he would have stayed in Chicago and waited until the Federal charges of the Governor were proven to be either false or TRUE and then make his claim to fame!!! If Governor Blagovegich is found GUILTY, Mr. Burris will NOT HAVE ANY LEGAL STANDING WHAT SO EVER and WILL BE EXPELLED from the Senate Seat faster than he can say "I'm a Jr. Senator"!!!

    OR he should have held a press conference and say he would accept the nomination ONLY if the Secretary of State and the people of Chicago approve of his appointment by a 'special Senate election session". Bottom line.

    He should have focused on getting the support of the Chicago Senate and the Secretary of State rather than flying to Washington demanding he be seated...and then creating a HUGE MEDIA CIRCUS, while playing the "victim" card.

    NO ONE is buying Mr. Burris BS about not wanting to cause any confrontation, etc. He's the master of the circus!!!

    January 6, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  18. wendy

    the people of the state elected Blago. let him appoint the replacement performing the duties expected of him and be done with him. he hasnt been convicted... Let Burris be seated, he's a good replacement regardless of who's appointed him. Why should he suffer for another's trangressions? It would have looked unprofessional of him not to show up for the position he was legally appointed to. And for goodness' sake.. please stop calling Obama a person of a minority race...add up the numbers. There are no more minorities...this country is a melting pot of races...if there IS a minority anymore, it's a full-fledged caucasian! He's not an African-American...he's not from Africa! we dont call Mexicans that have moved here Mexican-American, we dont call the English that have moved here English-American – and they're from those respective countries. This country's media is so focused on 'race' that they've lost the beauty of the world's countries. I was born in the United States of America and am an AMERICAN – regardless of my skin color.

    January 6, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  19. Proud American

    This seat should go to the most qualified regardless of color. Dem. please don't start acting like Idiot republicans.

    January 6, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  20. Jeff of Peoria

    Thank you Senator Cleaver. I think you finally get it!!!

    January 6, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  21. Scott

    Amen!! He should not get the seat or be denied the seat due to skin color. It is nice to hear Rep. Cleaver's remarks. Now impeach Blago and let the Lt. Gov. choose a good person.

    January 6, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  22. Laverne

    Mike from Syracuse: For your information, Obama has issued an statement and maybe you should read the entire statement: "Roland Burris is a good man and a fine public servant, but the Senate Democrats made it clear weeks ago that they cannot accept an appointment made by a governor who is accused of selling this very Senate seat," Obama said in a statement. "I agree with their decision, and it is extremely disappointing that Governor Blagojevich has chosen to ignore it. I believe the best resolution would be for the Governor to resign his office and allow a lawful and appropriate process of succession to take place. While Governor Blagojevich is entitled to his day in court, the people of Illinois are entitled to a functioning government and major decisions free of taint and controversy."

    January 6, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  23. Carrie Goodeagle Hayden, Idaho

    The Governor is innocent until proven guilty. He appointed Senator Burris, so be it. Harry Reid needs to cool his self-rightous wheels, and I'm a dem. Harry, stop making a spectacle of yourself, leave that to the republicans, they do a much better job than you do, If the people don't like Burris, they can vote him out.

    January 6, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  24. Stacey, California

    trust me if Mr. Burris' appointment is dismissed it will NOT outrage african americans. many of us are not too impressed with how he's handled this matter. watching some of his interviews leaves me in complete embarassment and clearly emphasizes his lack of qualification. And i'm convinced that blagoveich made this appointment with ill-intentions to take some of the focus from him for a while.

    Overall, black or white, wrong is wrong. I feel that the Chicago voters should demand and expect more from their state representatives.

    January 6, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  25. kay

    Burris should treated no different from Sarah Palin who thought she could win my dividing America.

    Burris should be made to regret the day he tried to insuniate that he might be denied the senate because he is African American.

    What did be win he been denied. African American should wake up and tell fools like this their Place. White American don't be afriad to say the truth no one has the right to call you racist.

    From a disgiusted African American

    January 6, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
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