Listening to talk radio this morning would lead one to assume that Dick Durbin is the most important man in America. Wall to wall coverage on every show just because he 'apologized' for comparing American soliders to Nazi's and the detention of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay to the Soviet gulags.
First, I heard Durbin's comments on June 14 and I really didn't think they were that outrageous. He was expressing his opinion, and the apparent Democratic party line, which is that the Iraq war was illegal and immoral, that we should coddle our enemies and give them full access to the American judicial system and that Republicans are basically worse than Hussein, Bin Laden, Pol Pot, Stalin and Hitler combined.
But for this big deal to made this morning about Durbin crying on the Senate floor and expressing regret for hurting people's feelings-I mean, how stupid. What a colossal waste of everyone's time!
Durbin did not apologize by the way. He did not retract his remarks of last week. He just said he was sorry if anything he said was taken the wrong way or offended anyone. That's not an apology. Let's get it straight, shall we?
But then there's this: The Republican reaction. John McCain essentially siding with Durbin and saying 'who among us hasn't said something we regret?' Bill Frist talking this morning about he 'was looking forward to working with' Durbin. Yeah, lots of work is sure to get done between the Republican Majority and the Obstructionist Minority. Mitch McConnell declined to state an opinion about whether or not Durbin should lose his leadership post in the Senate. 'That's up for the Democratic Conference to decide,' he said.
Does anyone remember Trent Lott? He was forced out of his leadership position in the Senate because of something he said at Strom Thurmond's birthday party! He was not on the Senate floor as Durbin was when he made disparaging remarks. Lott went on an 'Atonement Tour,' to smooth things over. He went on BET, all the cable channels and attempted to apologize all to the disinterest of host after host and reporter after reporter.
The Lott story was front page news for weeks. The press simply would not let the issue go. And then the White House piled on, forcing Lott out in favor of Frist. Why isn't Durbin being made to resign his position? There is no question he should give up his leadership role in the Senate in the wake of this controversy if for no other reason than for the sake of consistency.
Durbin, since he's from Illinois, is fond of quoting Abraham Lincoln (whom he also disparaged a few weeks ago by saying he must have been Jewish because his first name was Abraham and how he was shot in a temple, but nobody noticed) and in his 'apology speech' last night quoted a passage that read something like (and I paraphrase) 'let nothing I say or do overshadow the good deeds that I do,' or some self serving crap like that. Way to go, Dick.
Instead Durbin should mention something else Lincoln said, and again I paraphrase, 'anyone who makes disparaging remarks about the American military from the floor of the United States Senate should be expelled, evicted or executed.'
I really like this quote from Lincoln too: 'Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment nothing can fail. Without it nothing can succeed. He who molds opinion is greater than he who enacts laws.'
The Democrats understand this principle and practice it, day after day, election after election. I only wish the Republicans were smart enough to get this.
But instead, Republicans continually get bogged down attempting to glean positive press coverage by appearing bipartisan and friendly with the Democrats. Frist, in his comments this morning perfectly illustrates this. He's 'looking forward to working with the Senator from Illinois.' What gives Frist the impression that Durbin or any other Democrats are going to work toward the goals the Republican leadership has in mind for the Senate? What could Frist have used as a metric for the level of cooperation and participation the Dems have engaged in thus far to assist the GOP, the move the agenda forward, to pass legislation, or vote up and down on Bush's nominees? There is very little to use as examples of bipartisanship from the Democrats.
Personally, I hate bipartisanship. Bipartisanship is highly over-rated. This is politics and it should be rough and tumble. It should be a brutal, knock down, violent fight. This is the arena of ideas, after all, where one idea triumphs over another idea and, hopefully, at the end of the day or the end of the term, the nation is a better place because of the brawl.
As I wrote yesterday in 'Methodology,' I believe the pussy footing the GOP has been engaged in since December is simply a Bush/Rove inspired smoke screen as they lay the ground work for complete and total GOP dominance by wooing Democratic constituents like blacks, latinos and women. I hope they are continuing to be smart about this, anyway. Of course I could be wrong. But I want some fighting Republicans, not just the mealy mouthed wimps we constantly seeing and hearing. That's not what the nation wants or needs.