Patterico's Pontifications


Durbin Apology: Good Enough

Filed under: Current Events,Terrorism — Patterico @ 6:45 am

I heard Hugh Hewitt on the radio yesterday saying Dick Durbin’s apology was insufficient. Captain Ed calls it “yet another halfway dodge in putting the onus onto those whom you offended instead of taking responsibility for your own actions and comments.” And Michelle Malkin says it’s a “non-apology apology.”

I disagree. Do I think Durbin is some super-sincere guy because he welled up in the well of the Senate? Nah. But my reaction is: good enough. Here’s what he said:

Some may believe that my remarks crossed the line. To them I extend my heartfelt apologies. There’s usually a quote from Abraham Lincoln that you can turn to in moments like this. Maybe this is the right one. Lincoln said: “If the end brings me out right what is said against me won’t amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong ten thousand angels swearing I was right wouldn’t make any difference.” In the end I don’t want anything in my public career to detract from my love for this country, my respect for those who serve it, and this great Senate. I offer my apologies to those who were offended by my words. I promise you that I will continue to speak out on the issues I think are important to the people of Illinois and to the Nation. Mr. President, I yield the floor.

Via Michelle, you can watch the video at The Political Teen, who has a slightly inaccurate transcript.

This isn’t a “I’m sorry you were offended” non-apology apology. It’s an apology. For someone with as much pride as a U.S. Senator, it’s a decent helping of crow. Now some are faulting him for apologizing only to those who were offended. Come on. Who else is he going to apologize to?

Remember what he was talking about: a memo that said that detainees had been chained to the floor for 18-24 hours at a time, and were urinating or defecating on themselves. According to the memo, one had apparently been pulling his hair out because he had been kept in an unventilated room whose temperature was over 100 degrees. It’s not Hitler, Stalin, or Pol Pot. It’s not sawing someone’s head off, either. But it’s worth looking into.

Durbin’s apology was good enough for Smash. That should be the end of it.

UPDATE: Don’t get me wrong. I would have liked to have seen something stronger — like this.

33 Responses to “Durbin Apology: Good Enough”

  1. I disagree… with you!!!

    Durbin needs to step down and out of politics.

    He has hurt America at its roots — our citizen soldiers…

    Dr. Burke, Colonel, USAF, Ret.

    The Colonel (513f05)

  2. “Some may believe that my remarks crossed the line. To them, I extend my heartfelt apologies,” said Senator Durbin.

    So who are these people who don’t believe his remarks crossed the line? Durbin’s buddies, that’s who.

    clp (91b3b2)

  3. Durbin’s was a non-apology apology.

    The MSM hounded Trent Lott for comments at a birthday party and he eventually was forced to resign his leadership position.

    These were comments on the floor of the United States Senate.

    The Senate should at the very least pass a resolution repudiating his June 14 speech.

    But, they won’t because the MSM and other apologists will just let this FLAP die.

    Flap (f221c5)

  4. Sen Durbin’s genie is out of the bottle and he cannot put it back. Show your true colors and you cannot cover them ever again. We residents of Illinois are truely ashamed of both of our senators recently -Durbans sedition and Obamas support of “Sheets” Byrd. Even Richie Daly got on Durbans case.- that was the thing that opened Durbans eyes.

    Ray Simpson (75a3b5)

  5. That’s right – this is a flap. Flaps can and should be debated, not whitewashed and suppressed. Is it absolutely wrong (i.e. “Durban should be censured/strung up”) or is it all relative (Lott’s statements weren’t really AS bad) – there seems to be some confusion among the Right these days about whether they are on the right side of the Gitmo issue, or whether the debate itself is a an affront to patriotism. I hope it is the former, as the latter is nothing but tyranny.

    Not all of us are in singing kumbaya around the Gitmo fire, and Durbin so Durbin was speaking for many Americans. But note that he did not compare, let alone equate, our country to the Reich etc., nor our soldiers to theirs. Even his strongest statements focused on the acts that occurred at Guantanamo. He was harsh, but he excoriated the acts themselves through a comparison.

    This is known as expressing alarm, whereby a person makes an extreme juxtaposition to make a point that is overall legit, or at least legitimately held. Public speaking 101. Have all sides of this debate not been sliming each other with labels that are at least a little extreme? Durbin did not even do that. He merely expressed shock at the conditions to which prisoners were subject in American custody. If you don’t permit that, then you don’t permit speech and debate.

    We are proud of our military, it does generally do things right, but that does not put them above reproach or above the principles of self-government. Plus it is led by the executive branch, which is most definitely fair game for legislative criticism. That is why you don’t string up senators for speaking on this issue.

    Trent Lott’s comments, by contrast, were not only unbecoming but without such democratic purpose. I’m not advocating the consequence, but if he hadn’t been in a leadership role probably nothing would have happened to him.

    biwah (f5ca22)

  6. Again he did not apologize. Again he said the fault lies with dumb Americans that do not understand how bad America is.
    Had he said “Gitmo never has been and is not anything like the camps run by the Socialist Labor Party.”; that would be an apology

    Rod Stanton (3a8758)

  7. I don’t give a rip about an apology from that incompetent fool Durbin. What I do care about is that Durbin has created an unending piece of propoganda that is being used by Islam facists as justification for their terrorism. What right thinking Moslem would not join to get rid of Nazi’s and torturers and religious bigots who are trying to suppress the Moslem religion and demean all Moslems. Durbin is the best propagandist the terrorists have ever had and this allegation of torture and cruelty will no doubt come back to haunt America many years into the future. Durbin does not need to apologize. He needs to RETRACT HIS STATEMENT and RESIGN his leadership position in the Senate. As for his shedding tears, that is only because he’s worried about his political power. Durbin has never in his life given a darn about anything but Durbin. He’s a complete narcissistic personality. Does anyone really believe that Durbin wants to help the U.S. effort to democratize Iraq? Durbin was one of the saddest people on earth when there was a freely held ellection in Iraq. Quite obviously Durbin is doing everything in his power to sabotage any success in Iraq from trying to discourage our troops by presenting a continuously negative view of their efforts to deliberately presenting Al Qaeda talking points as if those talking points were true to portraying the Iraq war as a quest for oil. Try to think of one instance where Durbin made an effort to encourage our troops to be successful in Iraq or to help find positive solutions to any problems with the Iraq war. All Durbin cares about is partisan advantage and his own political power even to the point of endangering the United Sates by provoking future terrorism with his rhetoric.

    john (fc4860)

  8. Why don’t we just hang a sign around his neck?

    For all the very articulate points that are made on conservative blogs, there is a surprising insistence on the view that Durbin and all other protesters against the actions at Gitmo and the war are saying America is Bad or against our own military. This is ridiculous.

    These objections are to what is being done in America’s name, and to how the military, our soldiers, are being used. Dissent is not treason. Being incredulous of the government’s self-reporting on its own misconduct is not treason.

    Censorship by apology is still censorship. Newsweek’s forced retraction is made no less egregious by the fact that their reporting was essentially confirmed shortly after Rumsfeld accused the magazine of something like murder.

    Durbin owes no one an apology. I may not be his #1 fan but what is being suggested here is far more dangerous.

    biwah (f5ca22)

  9. All of you are nuts, except Patterico.

    The political point of an apology is to tell the world that we were right and Durbin was wrong. In this context, it makes no difference at all if he wasn’t really sincere, if he used some weasel words, or even if he had his fingers crossed behind his back.

    Please understand: it doesn’t matter. Virtually everybody watching that apology, except for the most extreme of extreme moonbats, will see it as an apology, an admission of wrongdoing, even if it’s possible to read it as argument — if you parse the words closely enough. It’s not a legal contract, for heaven’s sake.

    People don’t do that in real life. They will hear the words “I extend my heartfelt apologies,” and that’s all they’ll remember.

    It’s good enough because it has exactly the same effect as a sincere apology… and there is no way in hell we would ever get more — from virtually anybody narcissistic enough to be a U.S. senator in the first place.



    Dafydd (df2f54)

  10. Durbin’s statements are not the basis for terrorist propaganda. The Abu Ghraib pictures and the Guantanamo reports are. Respectfully, get a grip.

    biwah (f5ca22)

  11. Dafydd, I agree that the apology is not about the actual meaning of the apology. What it mostly represents is a barometer of the pressure from both sides to go through with that admittedly disingenuous posture – political navel-gazing. Why even go there?

    I’m not agreeing with Durbin’s literal statement (though I do share in his professed conerns), but it’s just not as dangerous as it is trumped up to be, given the overall dangerous climate. That he was forced to cry uncle is not a tribute to either side or the political process, nor does it affect the merits of the issue in the slightest.

    biwah (f5ca22)

  12. Biwah–Nonsense. Wrong doing is not the same as a deliberate policy. What happened at Abu Ghraib was an aberrration of wrong doing for which people went to jail. Durbin is saying that it is deliberate U.S. Policy to torture people and that our soldiers are go along with such policies. I have no problem with people being against this war or against all wars. What I have a problem with is actions that provoke more violence simply for the sake of political advantage. A cynical dog in the manger effort. To equate the deliberate sabotage of Durbin with legitimate dissent is to demean dissent. You can be a war protester and still be a loyal American. But you cannot foment terrorism from foreigners against the U.S. as a protester and be a loyal American. That is treason. It is also illogical for anti-war dissenters to resort to violent protests or to provoke violence because supposedly war protesters are trying to stop violence being used as a means of settling differences.

    john (fc4860)

  13. That was truly a lame apology. Not once did he say “I was wrong” or “My comparison of Gitmo to the Nazi death camps, the Gulag or the Killing fields was offensive, and I apologize” or anything close to that. The truth is the prisoners at Gitmo are the scum of the scum and are treated far better than they deserve. And Durbin knows that full well

    Robert (de70a3)

  14. Dissent is not treason. Being incredulous of the government’s self-reporting on its own misconduct is not treason.

    biwha, treason was never the issue. The issue was inappropriate and offensive hyperbole, pure and simple. Durbin could have made his case a thousand different ways without resorting to Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot. He got his butt kicked for stupid, over-the-top rhetoric, not his “dissent” or incredulity at what he perceives to be abusive behavior.

    So if your point is that Durbin has done enough by his apology, I would agree. If your point is that criticizing him was wrong to begin with, I think you are dead wrong.

    Glenn (2260fb)

  15. I agree with comment #13 from Robert. An apology for something one says isn’t much of an apology if he doesn’t believe what he said is wrong. And nothing Durbin said indicates that. He’s only sorry he offended anyone, but, hey, if you’re offended, that’s your problem.

    Jackie Warner (95d9f3)

  16. Go back, read the entire joke. Find me a sincere apology ‘for what he said’, he used the same hype all of the obstructionist party has started using. He said the words in a way that say’s I really believe what I said the first time but here’s a little toy bone to satisfy the critics. There was no apology in the entire speach, just double speak, carefully worded double speak. Time for my daily email to Turbin Durbin.

    scrapiron (8d0335)

  17. Patrick–

    Although I’m a daily reader of your blog and am in general agreement with you, we part at this point.

    Why? Because my maternal grandparents were Ukrainian and I know good and well what happened to these people under Stalin’s goose-stepping thugs marching in cadence to the Internationale.

    Senator Dickey Durbin claims that he takes pride in the fact that he of Lithuanian ancestory. Bull crap! Durbin’s comments before the Senate betrays his complete lack of knowlege of what happened in Lithuania during the Hitler-Stalin Pact (1 Sept 1939 to 1 June 1941) and the Soviet reoccupation in 1944. Every one of my Lithuanian acquaintances (all of whom witnessed occupation under both the Naziis and the Soviets) will testify that Durbin is smoking some kind of weed that makes him loose all sense of reality.

    It is also clear that far more Ukrainians perished under Stalin’s Gulag than Lithuanians. From where I’m standing, the only reasonable action by Durbin at this point in time is full resignation from the Senate, not just resignation as Senate Minority Whip.

    Mescalero (778e22)

  18. Perhaps a bit of a different take on this subject expressed here:

    Is anyone else tiring of the “apology culture” or is it just me? It seems that almost daily, if not certainly weekly, some group is offended and demands an apology. Let’s see, we’re apologizing for not doing enough here, not doing it soon enough, for doing too much there, for doing it too soon, and for saying or doing any number of things that some group, somewhere has found offensive. I think they should all apologize for demanding apologies – I’m very offended by apologies and those who demand them.

    It didn’t start with Trent Lott’s famous gaffe and it certainly won’t end with Senator Durbin’s. Frankly, I’m tired of all the demands for apologies. Does anyone really believe we should fire people for making stupid comments? Good grief!

    Durbin has a constitutional right to say stupid, and, yes, offensive things. As a 25 year career soldier and a conservative, I’d be the first to say that his comparison was inapt, inept, insulting, and probably gave some level of aid and comfort to our enemies, however, I’d rather he just said “Oops” and got on with doing the people’s business than going through all this politically correct indignation and demands for apologies. Doesn’t the congress of the United States have better things to do?

    Seems to me everyone should have at least one “get out of jail free” card to lay down when they say something stupid. Lott’s comments about Strom Thurmond would qualify; Dodd’s comments about Robert Byrd would also; as would Durbin’s recent comments IMHO. There are plenty of examples.

    I really believe we’re in peril of becoming a nation of wimps with our constant demands for apologies when it is deemed that someone has “offended” the tender sensibilities of some group. As if an apology wipes the slate clean. I’d prefer to hear something like: “Of all the stupid things I’ve ever said – that was one of them.” “What I really meant to say if I had been thinking before talking was …” then we just, as the saying goes, move on.

    It is to the point now that there are topics that are completely off limits without offending this or that group thereby activating the “apology police.” Larry Elder even wrote a book entitled Ten Things You Can’t Say in America to illustrate the point. It should be mandatory reading for at least all politicians for starters, maybe for the rest of us too.

    Harry Arthur (b318a5)

  19. BTW, if I’ve offended anyone else by being offended myself with apologies to those offended, I hereby apologize – profusely.

    Harry Arthur (b318a5)

  20. Harry– I could not agree more. Do you suppose that it was all those personal encounter meetings in the 1960’s and 70’s or is the feminization of American culture that made apologies so satisfying to so many? Apologies are great for the emotions but meaningless otherwise. The phoniness of the apology culture is stunning. It reminds me of Jimmy Carter’s phony-boloney response in 1979 and 1980 to the Iranian hostage situation when he encouraged the American People to put candles in their windows to show solidarity with the American hostages. The hostages of course could not see the candles and certainly the Iranians were not going to release the hostages because of those candles. The candles were all about emotions and were totally useless otherwise. The “candle response” has become de rigueur in American politics and culture. There is nothing like a good apology to make everything 0.K. regardless of the circumstances. And to fail to apologize is worse than the act that gave rise to the need to apologize in the first place!!!!!!! Your abject apology is sufficient recompense if it’s done REALLY WELL. HOWEVER should you fail to apologize in sufficiently self abasing terms— WELLLLL then you are a truly out of touch person unable to grasp the enormity of the breach of apology etiquette you have committed. You know–one of THOSE types of people. Fortunately Senator Durbin has managed to abase himself enough to satisfy the apology judges so the problem has been totally solved (pardon the sarcasm). Bill Clinton was a gifted professional apologizer without peer and so he was able to get away with whatever whenever he wanted to. It may well be his most important talent. Perhaps you and I should hire tutors so we too can join the merry contingent of the touchy feely apologization movement, learning all of the intricate ins and outs of the professionally performed apology so as to avoid ever being one of THOSE types of people?

    john (fc4860)

  21. what’s in an apology?

    I don’t think it’s reasonable to ask a person to pretend to change their mind in an apology. Durbin really does believe that the minor punishments going on at Gitmo are equivalent to torture and genocide. Never mind that his beliefs are completely ir…

    Doc Rampage (59ce3a)

  22. If I don’t admit I was wrong, don’t take anything back, but say I’m sorry if you mis-understood… is that an apology?

    No, it’s not.


    Wizard61 (74cf21)

  23. A couple of points that could probably be made more succinctly – for which I apologize, sincerely albeit momentarily.


    John (#12): You said:

    “You can be a war protester and still be a loyal American. But you cannot foment terrorism from foreigners against the U.S. as a protester and be a loyal American. That is treason.”

    If that line was possible to objectively draw, then your argument would hold water. It does not, particularly on contentious issues in contentious times. What words will cause terrorism against the U.S., and what won’t? We simply do not know. Wouldn’t you agree that we shouldn’t give up our freedoms to kowtow to the possible backlash from the the evildoers?

    Under your standard,the treason card can be played at any time. Any dissent can show a weakened national resolve, giving the opposition conference, leading to American deaths. This argument has been pushed on us, including by the administration, to the point of desensitization. Your seemingly careful distinction among types of dissent is fantasy.

    You also said: “Wrong doing is not the same as a deliberate policy. What happened at Abu Ghraib was an aberrration of wrong doing for which people went to jail.”

    I read that: “Oh, that. People went to jail for that.” Case closed. But if you are concerned about the American deaths that result from the actions of dissenters, aren’t you also concerned about the (probably far more numerous) deaths resulting from those events and the photos? Is it the press’ fault for reporting? The Arab rage it sparked was not the result of liberal spin or the words of senators, but of those same events you would now dismiss with the “people went to jail” line. Why?

    Both patriots and terrorists skeptical of the government are making the following connection: disclosure of some bad facts + Pentagon’s propensity for keeping a lid on abuses = More abuses have occurred that remain hidden. What are you going to do, tell people not to think that? It comes down to credibility.


    I am with Harry Arthur (#18). We all judge and are judged on what we say. That’s the only accountability we need. The flex built into this “natural” law allows us to go a little further than the literal truth to show extra conviction, with the caveat that your ass is on the line should the passage of time look disfavorably on what you said (or did). That’s why freedom of speech is far from anarchy. It is simply a rejection of top-down regulation of thought in favor of peer review (or something like it).

    Forced apologies are nothing but a show of power, and faked apologies are nothing but a means of blunting an impending punishment. Anyone who has been a kid knows this. We can’t afford to spend our energy trucking with these kinds of gestures in national government.

    biwah (f5ca22)

  24. biwah, to take your argument one step further, I’m not at all uncomfortable with criticism of Durbin’s speech. Thus, I find your choice of the terms “accountability” and “peer review” appropriate. I’m also comfortable with declaring “shame on you, Senator Durbin, for saying such a stupid thing.” This is because, though Durbin has a right to say virtually anything, the right does not accrue only to the dissenter.

    My primary objection is to the current tendency in our culture to demand apologetic speech at the slightest offense rather than to make a cogent, logical refutation of the ideas behind the speech – a counter argument. John is correct in suggesting that this whole apology thing is largely a “feelings based” attitude.

    Losing your job for saying something stupid bothers me as well. In my opinion it’s clearly up to Durbin’s constituents whether he should continue to remain a U.S. Senator and it’s up to his peers in the Senate as to whether he possesses the necessary leadership qualities to continue represent his party as a leader in the Senate.

    I was a kid once, a very long time ago, and have three of my own – your comment on forced and faked apologies is also on the mark.

    I think sometimes we need to remember that the Bill of Rights codifies natural rights “endowed by the creator” if you will, with which the government may only marginally interfere and only in specific circumstances, e.g., you don’t have total free speech to yell “fire!” in a crowded theater and you can’t slander or threaten others but beyond that the right is fairly broad. It protects the speech with which we are prone to disagree, not that with which we would naturally agree.

    While on the subject, please endulge me a tangent: As a conservative / libertarian I’m also very much opposed to a flag burning amendment for pretty much the same reasons.

    Harry Arthur (40c0a6)

  25. Wasn’t good enough for me. Smash isn’t the only target hit.

    Juliette (a7d1ca)

  26. AP:

    White House adviser Karl Rove should either apologize or resign for saying liberals responded to the Sept. 11 terrorist strikes by wanting to “prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers,” Democrats said Thursday.

    It is not just for fairness’ sake that I express my disgust with the Democrats on this.

    We the people (okay, I) do not want resignations. We want a debate that will yield answers that we can actually believe. If Rove was out of line, respond by saying why. dammit. What could be emptier than calling for Karl Rove to resign?

    biwah (f5ca22)

  27. Well, not to be disappointed – here we go again. Get a “stupid statement get out of jail free” card ready for Carl Rove. Chuck Shumer is predictably outraged and Hillary just wants us to “take a deep breath and calm down.”

    Chuck, “He’s jumped way over the line” Shumer insists that Carl owes us all an apology. Yada, yada, yada. They both make my point perfectly.

    I couldn’t do any better if I was making this stuff up.

    Harry Arthur (b318a5)

  28. “Some may believe that my remarks crossed the line.”

    Is Durbin for freakin’ real?!

    Any so-called apology where Durbin fails to refer to his earlier remarks as “crazy,” “lunatic,” or “insane,” is not an apology, but a further affront.

    clark smith (521ad2)

  29. Its useless to apologize to republicans.

    actus (cd484e)

  30. Actus,

    I am a Republican.

    Patterico (c235d1)

  31. Interesting to juxtapose this issue with that of Congress apologizing for slavery. TN senator Lamar Alexander’s letter to NYT today addresses this.

    Public apologies seem most significant not for what they do say, but what they don’t do. The more institutional the apologizing party, the less it possesses actual emotions with which to feel sorry, and the more it possess the power to have actually acted. thus the more hypocritical the apology.

    An analogous situation is Japan’s apology for its use of Chinese female prisoners as sex slaves. Too little + too late + unaccompanied by any action = salt in old wounds.

    biwah (f5ca22)

  32. actus, I believe the point being made by myself, biwah, John, et al, is that it’s useless to apologize – period.

    Harry Arthur (b318a5)

  33. u suck

    mahama da lee (035e98)

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