Monday, June 20, 2005

Zorn gives Durbin a Pass: Will his Party?

Revised at 3:20 pm on June 20, 2005
Chicago Tribune columnist and blogger Eric Zorn decides that Senator Dick Durbin did not say anything really troublesome on substantive grounds during this last week. Zorn tells us that when Durbin anologizes U. S. treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay to how we could expect Nazis, Soviets in their gulags and Pol Pot to handle detainees, Durbin’s only problem is that which comes from, "opportunistic critics who seem deliberately obtuse when it comes to simple logic.”

Blogger Eric Zorn thinks Durbin’s mistake was the stylistic, political one of not paying attention to Zorn’s rule: never refer to Nazis or Adolph Hitler in political debate. The problem with that analysis is that Senator Durbin hardly has to rely on Zorn for political advice. Tom Delay may be the “Hammer,” but Senator Durbin is the “Hacker.” Trust me, I know Senator Durbin-- I have heard and watched Senator Durbin speak many times, I have interviewed him on my show. Personally, he is a very nice guy. But, professionally, politically, he is a "Hacker," and he always hacks while flashing that warm, personable smile. Perhaps Senator Durbin is even proud to have earned that label, in the same sense that Tom Delay is proud to be the "Hammer."

Senator Durbin is similar in the way he plays politics to the basketball player who continuously fouls out with zero points, but by draping himself over the opposing team’s big scorer and hacking and hanging all over him from the toes to the chin, has kept the 30 point per game shooter to maybe 22 points in that day’s game. Like that basketball player who fouls out with no points, Durbin may not be flashy, but he is an effective political hacker.

And one thing is very clear: because Sen. Durbin has been hacking away for the better part of 23 years in both the House and the Senate,
he hardly needs political advice from Eric Zorn on how to hack more carefully. More importantly, when Senator Dick Durbin commits a foul, you can bet he knows what he is doing.

Let’s see if we can get a handle on some of Zorn’s and Durbin’s “opportunistic critics: ”

Virginia’s U. S. Senator John Warner, hailed by moderate media members all over the political landscape as a senior, fairly non-partisan U. S. Senator-statesman for the role he played recently in brokering the judicial filibuster compromise, lashed out this week at his fellow Senate club member-- Senator Durbin: “For you to have come to the floor with just that fragment of a report and then unleashed the words "the Nazis," unleashed the word "gulag," unleashed "Pol Pot," I don't know how many remember that chapter, it seems to me that was a grievous error in judgment [by you] and it leaves open to the press of the world to take those three extraordinary chapters in world history and try and intertwine it with what is taking place -- allegedly --at Guantanamo.” [See here, excerpts of Senator John Warner debating Senator Dick Durbin on the Senate Floor, Thurday night]

NPR’s Mara Liasson. “…Durbin’s comments, anytime an analogy is made to the Nazis, almost anytime-- it is always inappropriate- unless it involves the genocide of six million people, and that is not what we are talking about here, but I do think it is a stretch to say that this is representative of Democrat thinking…there are no Democrats who have associated themselves with this remark that I know of." [Fox News Sunday, June 19, 2005.]

Mitch McConnell[No. 2 Republican in the Senate]: Is the Senator aware that Pol Pot murdered one to two million of his countrymen; the Nazis murdered from six to nine million women and children, mainly Jews and the Soviets in their gulags murdered some ten to twenty million people. Fox News Sunday, June 19, 2005, recorded on June 17, 2009.

And there was this non-apology apology from Senator Durbin for Eric Zorn to add to his collection: “I have learned from my statement that historical parallels can be misused and misunderstood. I sincerely regret if what I said caused anyone to misunderstand my true feelings. Our soldiers around the world and their families deserve our respect, admiration and total support." [In other words, “Mistakes were made”].Fox News Sunday, June 19, 2005, recorded on June 17, 2009.

Bill Kristol: He still seems to think it is some kind of historical parallel. He doesn’t say he shouldn’t have said it. He just says, “ I’m sorry if people misunderstood me.” So, I think that really digs a deeper hole. It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up [that usually gets people into trouble]. Fox News Sunday, June 19, 2005.
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