When Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced the appointment of Roland Burris to Barack Obama’s open Senate seat, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took a principled stance: Burris would not be seated. That principle was wrong, but at least it was a principle.

Initially, Reid had widespread support among Democratic Senators, but that support is weakening as the absurdity of the situation unfolds. The Democratic Majority Leader is refusing to seat a lawfully-appointed Democratic Senator at a time when Democrats need every vote they can get in the Senate. This scene reminds me of comedy skits where a gunman holds a gun to his own head and threatens to shoot unless he gets his way.

Maybe a gun to the head isn’t the best analogy. More appropriate would be shooting oneself in the foot by violating a fundamental rule of negotiation:

Never indicate that you will not negotiate, if you will. On announcing your willingness to change your mind, you have also admitted defeat and might as well meet the demands of the other person.

And so it is. Reid has indicated a willingness to negotiate what once was non-negotiable. Having given up his principles, Reid might as well admit what the rest of the world knows — Burris is the Senator from Illinois. Any further fighting over the appointment only damages Reid, not Burris.