Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Senator Durbin apologizes- sort of.

Revised and updated at 11:40 am on June 22, 2005:

On June 14, 2005, Senator Dick Durbin said, "If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners."

No matter how you splice it, dice it, spin it or whatever, the No. 2 Democrat in the U. S. Senate Leadership, Dick Durbin, has to have known how that paragraph would be used, even though it is only one paragraph of a seven-page speech. It will be used be and Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean to energize the base, or the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party as Dean likes to put it. It will be used by the Republicans to chastise Senator Durbin for making what they view as a ludicrous and completely unfounded analogy or historical parallel, however you want to put it.

And it will be used by various media sympathetic to terrorists, as well as by terrorists themselves, as showing that even the top leadership of the Democratic Party in the U. S. Senate likens what is going on in Gitmo as equivalent to Nazis, gulags [as in Amnesty International] or Pol Pot, in short to heinous, totalitarian and genocidal regimes that killed approximately 30 million people.

Senator Durbin knows all this and he uses the paragraph anyway in a speech he gives on Dec. 14, 2005. Four days later, he suggests he has suddenly learned that historical parallels can be misconstrued, and he is sorry about that, sort of.

Yesterday, Senator Durbin sought to end his week-long nightmare by saying he “made reference to Nazis, Soviets and other repressive regimes.” Well, he did more than make references to those groups of people. He implied that Americans responsible for treatment of detainees were “kind of like Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings.” That’s what Senator Durbin did on December 14, 2005.

That’s why Mayor Daley said yesterday in a press conference, “I think it’s a disgrace. And, he [Senator Durbin] is a good friend of mine. But I think it’s a disgrace to say that any man or woman in the [U. S.] military act like that or are reported like that. You go and talk to some victims of the Holocaust and they will tell you horror stories. And there are not horror stories like that in Guantanamo Bay.” And, to top it off, remember that Daley’s son enlisted in the army not too long ago.

And within hours of Mayor Daley’s statement today, Durbin apologized. This time it was something that looked more like an apology than his effort of last Friday. To understand the Daley-Durbin thing, you should know that Senator Durbin, speaking at the City Club of Chicago a few years ago, recounted how, as a young Congressman, Durbin went to thank former Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski for his help in getting a committee assignment for the junior congressman from downstate Illinois. I think the assignment was to the Appropriation Committee. Senator Durbin, in telling the story, said Rosty looked at Durbin and said in his gruff demeanor, “Kid, just remember one word—Chicago.” So, on hearing of Daley’s comments, Durbin was on the Senate Floor pronto, apologizing and crying-- with tears flowing.

So, did Senator Durbin say, “I am sorry, for implying that Americans responsible for treatment of detainees were ‘kind of like Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings.’ That’s not true and I shouldn’t have implied that. I am sorry for doing so."

Nope, Senator Dick Durbin [D-IL; characterized by some, including Fox's Brit Hume, last night, as essentially No. 1 in the Democratic Senate leadership] did not say that. Instead, he said, “I'm sorry if anything that I said caused any offense or pain to those who have such bitter memories of the Holocaust, the greatest moral tragedy of our time. Nothing, nothing should ever be said to demean or diminish that moral tragedy."

"I'm also sorry if anything I said in any way cast a negative light on our fine men and women in the military. I went to Iraq just a few months ago with Senator Harry Reid and a bipartisan Senate delegation. When you look in the eyes of the soldiers you see your son and daughter. They are the best. I never, ever intended any disrespect for them."

"Some may believe that my remarks crossed a line. To them, I extend my heartfelt apologies.”

But, it is not just those with bitter memories of the Holocaust to whom Sen. Durbin needs to apologize. Nor is it just those in the military to whom he needs to apologize. Nor is it just to those who believe his remarks crossed a line. Nor is it just those charged with treating the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

It is all of the above, but it is broader. Senator Durbin’s apology should have gone to all Americans.

Senator Durbin says he is apologizing to those “who may believe that his remarks crossed a line. So, Durbin is apologizing to Mayor Daley—who believes he crossed a line. But Senator Dick Durbin doesn’t seem to believe that Dick Durbin crossed a line. So, did Durbin really apologize? Another non-apology apology for Chicago Tribune columnist and blogger Eric Zorn's collection?And for another view on the Durbin apology odyssey and other ventings from the Left in defense of Senator Durbin, see left links from Eric Zorn.
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