That would be any fight with Harry Reid on the other side. Seriously though, when you're leaning on Mitch McConnell for help, you're in trouble. Slate has an argument up for how the Senate could refuse Burris, but I don't see it happening. It is amazing to me that Reid has been outmaneuvered by the sort of overt, hamfisted indentity politics deployed in the 70s:

Before the service, Burris supporter U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush and about 60 ministers condemned Senate Democratic leaders for rejecting Burris.

Rush, a Chicago Democrat, called the Senate "the last bastion of plantation politics."

"We are just faced with a hard-headed room of people in the Senate who want to keep an African-American out of the Senate," Rush said.

Reid is on the defensive, and not because of the potency of identity politics. He's on the defensive because he did nothing on Sunday to dispel the stories that he preferred a candidate who couldn't win a house seat, to a couple of longstanding members of Congress. I don't want to hear about how Jesse and Danny Davis can't compete downstate in 2010. That is the same sort of logic that gave us Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton back in 2006.

This whole situation really makes me sick. But it reminds me of something I learned about Marion Barry, back in the 90s when I was covering D.C. Barry had the Bobby Rush game down pat--he'd make any criticism of him, by default, a criticism of Chocolate City. But the lowness of the tactic would often blind people to a very uncomfortable truth--Marion Barry was a great politician. It's true that Rush and Blago took a cheap-shot. But, likewise, that shouldn't blind us to the greater truth--this time out, they just played the game better.

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