Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Durbin Democratic Discontent

I am not happy that Durbin apologized. I don't think he should have used the Nazi analogy (not because it was wrong but because it was to obviously distracting). I think he should have used the platform this controversy was giving him to double down on his criticism of the Bush administration over the treatment of prisoners at Gitmo. By apologizing he validated the critics and set back the effort to enlighten the American people about what is happening. I'm not just unhappy. I'm angry!

But, even so, I think it is a monumental mistake for us to brand Durbin as a traitor and a coward because he gave in to the pressure.

Understandably, many are angry that Durbin, by his actions, has reinforced the image of Dems as to eager to bow to pressure even when they are objectively correct. But this problem will not be solved by purging Durbin from our ranks.

Instead, we need to look at this fiasco for the lessons it can teach us.

Durbin was under an immense amount of pressure from a coordinated Republican Noise Machine attack. He was receiving thousands of protest calls and letters. Furthermore, other Democrats, especially Illinois Dems, were receiving similar pressure. This is probably what lead to Mayor Daley criticizing Durbin and that is probably what pushed Durbin into taking the long walk on the Senate floor.

So here's the lesson: when Democrats are under attack by the Noise Machine it is vitally important that we let them know that we have their back. My impression is that we spent a lot of time attacking the attackers and not enough letting Durbin know that we liked what he said and wanted him to stick to his guns.

Where were the "Durbin speaks for me" petition campaigns? Where were the fundraising bats for Durbin's campaign?

Durbin's failure of will is our failure to provide Democrats with a platform from which they can feel safe making potentially controversial statements. We did great backing up Dean but we won't get anywhere if Dean is the only Democrat who garners that kind of support.

Make no mistake about it, Durbin fucked up by issuing his apology. But supporting our guys when they do right is more important than attacking them when they do wrong. Purging and ostracizing Durbin just compounds the mistake.


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