Jewish World Review Oct. 31 2013/ 27 Mar-Cheshvan, 5774
Sen. Bullhead is hooked on outrage
By John Kass
JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) Outrage drove Captain Ahab relentlessly after that great white whale, and apparently, it drives Sen. Dick Durbin too.
Durbin, the unctuous Democrat running for re-election in President Barack Obama's political home state, is consumed by outrage. And he's famous for chasing the Republicans on the high seas of his anger.
Last week, he was outraged once again.
But this time, for a price.
This one has nothing to do with his indignation of years ago, when he loudly compared American troops to Nazis for the way they allegedly treated suspected terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay.
He kinda-sorta apologized for that one, saying he was sorry "if" anyone was offended.
But Durbin is not apologizing this time. He's outraged by an unidentified Republican who may have disrespected the face of the president, even if the White House says the insult that Durbin is outraged about didn't happen.
Durbin expressed his outrage on Facebook early this week, saying a Republican congressman meeting with Obama about the shutdown told the president: "I cannot even stand to look at you."
Unfortunately for Durbin, White House press secretary Jay Carney said he looked into Durbin's story, even spoke to someone at the meeting, and told reporters the presidential face was not dishonored.
"It did not happen," Carney said.
That seems clear enough.
And it would have started to fade away, except we learned Thursday that Durbin had sent out a fundraising letter. The senior senator from Illinois cited the apparent outrage to Obama's face, but suggested he'd feel a lot better if Democrats sent him $16.
In his fundraising pitch, Durbin writes:
"Let me ask you: What are the chances of an honest conversation with someone who has just said, 'I cannot even stand to look at you'?"
A few paragraphs down he writes "Please, click here to send my campaign $16 one dollar for every day of the reckless and irresponsible Republican Shutdown or whatever you can afford."
That's right, Durbin was so upset that President Obama's face was disrespected by a Republican who the White House says does not exist that Durbin is willing to take 16 bucks.
Sixteen bucks to assuage a mythical insult to a president's face? How noble is that?
The campaign for Doug Truax, a West Point graduate and Republican running for Durbin's seat, found the Durbin letter. Truax said Durbin should return the money pronto.
When reporters kept asking on Thursday, the White House issued another statement saying that there was "miscommunication" about what was said at the meeting.
In other words, an unnamed White House aide fell on an unseen political sword to protect Durbin, who'd attacked a non-existent Republican for not genuflecting before Obama's face.
Then Durbin put out yet another statement, again on Facebook, thanking the White House:
"I appreciate this clarification from the White House that explains recent conflicting reports on the GOP quote. It is important now to move beyond the unfortunate events of the last few weeks and work together constructively so that we're not faced with another shutdown showdown or debt-ceiling debacle."
Blah, blah, blah.
Even a chumbolone like me from a blue state like this one can figure this out.
Durbin tried to use something that didn't happen to manufacture anger in a fundraising letter. He not only baited his own hook, he swallowed it whole like a bullhead in some Illinois pond. Then Durbin started wiggling and the White House, taking pity on Sen. Bullhead, cut the slimly fish loose so he could swim free once again in the muddy fundraising waters.
Unfortunately, while Durbin was engaged with mythic presidential face disrespecting, he missed two other outrages.
Both involved liberal racism ignored by much of the media and by many Democrats.
During a broadcast, CNBC showed a photograph of Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. And CNBC reporter Steve Liesman said this:
"Can we get some music to go along with that? Some Mexican music, maybe."
Some Mexican music, Mr. Liesman? With trumpets and sombreros?
Liberals weren't outraged with Liesman's racism, because, to put it simply, Cruz is a Republican.
I'm not a big Cruz fan. When Cruz speaks, I'm not thinking about limited government. I just can't stop looking at his "Count Chocula" eyebrows, and I'm thinking instead about Saturday cartoons on TV, some milk and maybe a bowl of Frankenberry.
But seeing a Latino and calling for Mexican music?
And if I did it, I'd be in a lot of trouble.
Liesman issued a Durbin-style apology, saying he wanted to "sincerely apologize if my remarks were insensitive."
Also last week, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, the liberal Democrat from Orlando, Fla., compared the tea party movement to the Ku Klux Klan.
In a Grayson campaign email, he used a photograph of a burning cross with Klansmen around it. The cross became the "T" in "Tea Party" in Grayson's message.
Grayson wouldn't apologize for playing the Klan kard. His spokesman sent out this response.
"If the shoe fits, wear it."
That's how outrage works in American politics. When conservatives say stupid things, they're rightfully and loudly condemned.
But when liberals do it? There is no outrage. There isn't even much media noise.
It's not like the thrashing of a killer white whale on the high seas.
Instead, it's about as loud as the sound of one fish fin clapping in a muddy creek. Right, Sen. Bullhead?
John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Comments by clicking here.
© 2012, Chicago Tribune. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.