What's All This Then?
Monday, June 20, 2005
A SUNDAY TALE OF TWO SENATORS
Every time I get to thinking that John McCain is a sincere fellow and a straight shooter who speaks his mind without concern for political consequences, he says something that puts him shoulder to shoulder with his party’s partisans and makes him sound like a pure politician who will say what needs to be said to toe the party line. He was on Meet The Press on Sunday and inevitably, as I predicted, the name of Dick Durbin came up - as it will likely keep coming up until the administration and its backers find something else to distract voters from the real issues that it’s trying to spin and obscure. Russet said:
Your Democratic colleague Dick Durbin of Illinois set off a firestorm when he compared the actions of Americans at Guantanamo to Nazis, Soviet Gulags and Pol Pot. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said that Senator Durbin should be censured by the Senate for those comments.And McCain said:
Well, I think that Senator Durbin owes not only the Senate an apology—I don't know if censure would be in order--but an apology because it does a great disservice to men and women who suffered in the gulag and in Pol Pot's killing fields. Dick Durbin should be required to read Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's "Gulag Archipelago" and I think that he would--may have a better understanding that there's no comparison whatsoever. And it does a great disservice to the majority of men and women who are serving in Guantanamo who are doing the job that they're told to do and they're doing it in a humane fashion. To tar the American servicemen and women with a brush that applies to the gulag or the killing fields is a great disservice to the men and women in the military who are serving honorably down there.Of course he didn’t "tar American servicemen and women" with anything. He didn’t compare the FBI agent’s report of with what he saw at Guantanamo with the activities of the Nazis and the Soviets in their gulags. He simply said if you didn’t know what the FBI agent was talking about, you’d think it was a description of what might have occurred in one such country. But McCain predicted that by the time of next week’s Meet The Press, Durbin will have apologized
That was his take on his colleague Dick Durbin. But what about his colleague Bill Frist and Terri Schiavo, now that the autopsy results have been revealed? He made a diagnosis from the Senate floor and now he says he didn’t. Well, said McCain;
I don't want to criticize Bill Frist. He obviously had very sincere feelings about this issue. All of us were very emotional. Terri Schiavo had a loving parents and siblings that wanted to care for her for the rest of her life. I think our hearts went out to her in that situation and her family. Maybe we didn't use our brains as well as we should have. So I can't--I know that Bill Frist has denied that he "diagnosed" Terri Schiavo. I think we ought to get this issue behind us and move forward. It's an American tragedy and I hope that the next time we're presented with one of these situations we'll perhaps approach it in a more measured and reasoned fashion."Dick Durbin, apologize you tarrer of American servicemen and women. Bill Frist, you sincere guy, let’s put any issue that makes you look like an insincere, incompetent fool behind us, because my occasional, "use it when I feel the need" partisanship, just won’t let me see that insincerity and incompetence."
Over on CBS’s Face the Nation, the guest was Senator Joe Biden. Bob Schieffer asked him if he ever met the incoming flights at the Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware, bringing back the bodies of service personnel killed in Iraq. This is the exchange that followed:
Sen. BIDEN: I've tried to and they will not allow me to. As a matter of fact...It makes you wonder if any Republican Senator has ever tried to meet an incoming flight of coffins and whether a Republican Senator would be allowed to do so - or what repercussions a Republican Senator might face if he tried to see what the administration has so successfully kept from public view. And it makes you wonder why. No it doesn’t. We know why - and its shameful.
And of course, the Durbin Dilemma made its obligatory appearance as follows:
Senator, your colleague, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, this last week generated a fair amount of controversy by comparing the interrogation techniques that are being used in Guantanamo to those used by the Nazis, the--genocide essentially. He said these are techniques you might associate with Pol Pot, with the Gulags. At this point, a number of people, including the majority leader, have called upon Senator Durbin to apologize. He has not. Were those wise comments and should he apologize?A slightly different take from that of straight shooter John McCain. Durbin and Frist as a trade off. Even Steven. Makes sense to me.
Biden said that unless he runs into insurmountable barriers down the pike, he’s a Presidential candidate. To which I say right on - and I think he should kick off his campaign by acknowledging everything he’s learned from British Labour politician Neil Kinnock , with the comment - "As I was saying in 1987."