Durbin caved. By apologizing he confirmed everything the public has been hearing about his comments. Whatever words he used, the country again hears that Democrats are the problem and a Democratic Senator has admitted it.
How does the public hear these things, framed the way the Right wants them framed? Just to demonstrate one “channel” through which the Right’s propaganda is spread, let’s look at the pattern on the Internet. Monday I wrote that there were already 17,600 hits on Google for websites with the words “Durbin” and “treason”. Today there are 21,400. (And 28,700 for “Durbin” and “traitor.”) This channel is in addition to talk radio, letters to the editor, newspaper columnists and TV pundits. And then over time there will be the e-mail chain letters, magazine articles, etc. all referring to Durbin’s confession as proof that Democrats are traitors, etc.
What did the apology buy him? (And us?) Here are a few examples of responses to Durbin’s apology:
He says he’s sorry that his ill-advised words comparing U.S. military interrogators to the most tyrannical regimes of the 20th century have been twisted to make it sound as if he doesn’t support our troops, which he really, really does.
[. . .] Hey, we’re sorry, too.
We’re sorry that anything else Mr. Durbin might say about allegations of torture at Guantánamo Bay simply cannot be believed, thanks to his way-over-the-top screed.
We’re sorry that in his haste to score political points against the Bush administration, he chose to squander his credibility by linking U.S. troops to despots who killed millions of innocent people.
We’re sorry that at this key moment in the war on terror, when democracy demands a full and open debate on all U.S. policies and tactics, he so devalued his own voice and potential contributions.
We’re sorry that Mr. Durbin woke up this morning still the Senate’s assistant minority leader – the second-ranked Democrat – and that it apparently hasn’t occurred to fellow Democrats that he should step down from the leadership.
Durbin’s sorry, all right. Sorry he got a tender portion of his political anatomy caught in the wringer. Not sorry because he thought the unthinkable, spoke the unspeakable. [. . .] This is the sleazy way politicians have of issuing non-apology apologies. And Dick Durbin is as sleazy as they get. Whenever parents in Illinois – or anywhere across this blessed land – wish to hold a public official up as a role model for a child, Durbin’s not their man.
The nasty piece of verbal invective you hurled at honorable US Military personnel won’t ever come back. Such wantonly emotional rantings, just part and parcel of the invective shown by democrat US Senators during the Bush Administration, don’t come back…
… The “Gentleman” from Illinois has yet to make a real apology for the nastiness that flowed from his mouth on the floor of the United States Senate, the supposed model of courteous debate for democracies around the world.
… In fact, democrat US Senators have turned the United States Senate into a mean-spirited institution that is filled with vile acrimony. This is now an institution that provides juicy tidbit quotations for use by the enemies of our noble country and fills terrorist publications with vindication for their wanton murder of innocents and their brutal repression of everything associated with the very ideal of democracy.
Way to go Durbin. We’re all in a little bit more danger today than we were Monday.
Update – See also Steve Gilliard:
It is that kind of continued gutllessness in the face of rank GOP corruption which enrages many Democrats. We are tired of leaders who will not fight, especially when 15 or so of your collegues can take a pro-lynching stand and have nothing to pay for.
[. . .] We both know the defense of torture at Guantanamo is reprehenshible, the report you read from came from an FBI agent. Yet because you lost your nerve, you became the issue and not the report. We know most service members are not torturers. But there are those that are and who shame this country and we need to acknowledge that.
People were ready to stand up for you, it’s a shame you wouldn’t stand up for yourself.
Torture isn’t a partisan issue. And by apologizing, Durbin caved to those who worked their best to turn it into one. And the right-wing partisans rejoice — content in their ability to trivialize what is one of the most serious issues facing us morally, as a nation, and practically, on the battleground.
And a must-read by eRobin at American Street:
Now, with Sen. Durbin broken by the mob, the Right Wing Noise Machine has claimed another victim – plus the hundreds or maybe thousands of victims of torture whose voices are silenced along with his – plus the millions of Americans who continue to have torture perpetrated in our names.