Jewish World Review June 20, 2005/ 13 Sivan, 5765

Wesley Pruden

Wes Pruden
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The master plan for party suicide | The Democrats must have a master plan, based on polling that has penetrated deep into those secret places of the heart that George Gallup and John Zogby have yet to plumb.

Otherwise, the constant focus on sins, mistakes and misadventures at the military prison at Guantanamo, which has surely reached its illogical conclusion in the hysteria of Richard Durbin, the Democratic chief of sordid Senate hyperbole, is a suicide pact.

Responsible inquiries into the behavior of guards and their supervisors at Guantanamo are not only reasonable, but necessary. Close observation is only right and proper. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and there's no absolute power quite like the corrupting power of wardens, guards and interrogators. They must be watched lest they absorb the brutality of the guarded.

But the Democrats, in their desperate search for an alchemist who can turn Iraq into Vietnam, stumble into one soft cowpie after another. Harry Reid called the president "a loser," and that didn't work. Howard Dean mocked Christians for both race and faith, and fell over backwards. Dick Durbin thought he had the formula, telling how an FBI agent told him interrogators at Guantanamo chained an al Qaeda terrorist to the floor, turned up the air-conditioning, turned on a hip-hop recording and dialed up the decibels. Making someone, even a terrorist, listen to hip-hop may well be beyond the ordinary limits of civilized behavior, but what can Mr. Durbin and his colleagues expect ordinary Americans to make of this: "If I read this [e-mail] 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."

His Democratic colleagues, despairing of buttoning the lip on the fattest mouth in the United States Senate, tried yesterday to avoid the senator and his firestorm, much like embarrassed parents whose four-year-old used the f-word in describing to dinner guests what daddy said to mommy. Harry Reid first hid between a bookcase and the Xerox machine and sent a female aide out to take the heat. She could tell reporters only that Mr. Durbin had "spotlighted" a problem and everyone ought to take "the FBI's concerns" seriously, although the FBI had said nothing at all about "the problem."

Hillary Clinton, having wrapped up the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination and eager not to offend allies before actual campaigning starts, insisted that she hadn't read "the senator's speech." When a reporter read the offending passage to her she could only say, primly, that she had nothing to say.

If true, the senator's revelations that American war crimes at Guantanamo, consisting mostly of irreverent attitudes toward the Koran, had caught up with the atrocities of the Holocaust (9 million dead, including 6 million Jews), Stalin's gulags (2.7 million dead) and Pol Pot's Cambodian attempt at genocide (1.7 million dead) were surely the story of the new century, but the party's friendly press organs tried to look the other way. Neither The Washington Post nor the New York Times found room in yesterday's editions to report the controversy. But there was no press lollygagging in the Islamic world. Al Jazeera, the Arab-language network that regularly broadcasts dispatches from Osama bin Laden's cave, quickly put up the Durbin remarks in fulsome detail.

The firestorm appears to be tempering whatever steel may be in the spines of Republicans who only 36 hours ago were ready to abandon Gitmo and maybe even the GIs in Iraq. Last night, the senator himself hit the fan on the floor of the Senate. John Warner, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, demanded an apology. Mr. Durbin blamed "the right-wing media" for reporting his remarks. Mitch McConnell read his remarks back to him and asked if he had actually said something so outrageous. Harry Reid reminded everyone that Dick Durbin had once been a Boy Scout, and besides, he does, too, love American soldiers. Robert Byrd got the floor and changed the subject to Father's Day. Then Jon Kyl of Arizona resumed the drubbing of Mr. Durbin.

As Dave Barry might say, I am not making this up. Don't the Democrats wish.

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JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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