Right Wing Nut House



Filed under: Politics — Rick Moran @ 6:37 am

Should Senator Durbin be censured for his outrageous comments comparing American soldiers to Nazi, Soviet, and Pol Pot’s murderous thugs?

Newt Gingrich thinks so. The former Speaker sent a letter to all Senators:

By his statements equating American treatment of suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay with the behavior of the evil regimes of Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Senator Richard Durbin has dishonored the United States and the entire U.S. Senate. Only by a vote to censure Senator Durbin for his conduct can the U.S. Senate restore its dignity and defend American honor.

Senator Durbin’s statement of “regret” on Friday has only compounded the need for the Senate to act. In it, Senator Durbin said that “I have learned from my statement that historical parallels can be misused and misunderstood. I sincerely regret if what I said caused anyone to misunderstand my true feelings…” Incredibly, Senator Durbin is sticking to his original assertion that there is indeed, in his own words, an “historic parallel” between U.S. soldiers at Guantanamo Bay and the killers under Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot. In other words, his only regret is that Americans don’t understand his misreading of history and that he has caused us to misunderstand him. Offering no apology for the original slanderous statement itself, Senator Durbin has chosen instead to actually defend his comparisons. This defense makes his original speech all the more revolting.

There is historic precedent for censuring Senators whose words bring dishonor and disrepute on the Senate and impair its dignity; Senator Durbin’s words fit that precedent.

In this case, expressing outrage is not enough. It is time for the Senate to act. Senator Durbin must be censured now.

Gingrich claims to be something of an historian. If this is true, he didn’t research the subject of censure very diligently. In fact, in the entire history of the Senate, only one Senator has been censured for what he said in a floor debate. .

If Durbin had an ounce of decency, he’d resign. Since decency in the Democratic party lately can be measured in milligrams rather than ounces, it seems improbable that anyone could shame my home state Senator into doing the decent thing. But censure?

The closest historical precedent for censure goes all the way back to 1811 and Thomas Pickering. Pickering served in the second Washington Administration as both Secretary of War and Secretary of State. He was elected to the Senate in a special election in 1803. In 1811, Pickering read confidential documents in open Senate session before the ban on secrecy was removed. He was the first of 9 Senators to be censured. The last was Minnesota’s Dave Durenberger who was censured for unethical conduct.

Pickering is the only Senator to be censured for anything he said in open debate. Every other case of censure involved some kind of personal malfeasance on the part of the Senator who was censured. And while Durbin’s remarks were despicable, they probably don’t rise to the level that would require Senate action.

Besides, the internal dynamics of the Senate make censure problematic. They don’t call it “The Club” for nothing. Notice that even many Republican Senators have refused to comment on Durbin’s disgusting remarks. These people have to work together on a daily basis. And while the intense partisanship of late has damaged the traditional camaraderie in the Senate, the fact is that there are many unwritten rules of conduct in that august institution. One of those rules is: “Do not speak ill of thy colleague lest the shoe be on the other foot someday.”

So despite the former Speaker Gingrich’s claim, there is no historical precedent for censuring a Senator whose words bring “dishonor and disrepute” to the Senate. But that doesn’t solve the problem of what’s to be done with this jackass of a Senator who, when given the opportunity, turned his chance at an apology into another partisan attack on the Administration.

Do you recall the impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton? Senators were so desperate to rid themselves of the task that they were grasping at all sorts of straws to find a solution short of an impeachment trial. One of the straws that they latched onto for a brief time - until shot down by a confident White House - was the idea of a letter of reprimand signed by Senators from both parties.

Could such a letter, signed by the leadership of both parties, be issued to Senator Blabbermouth? Yes it would be informal and not really part of the record. But it would certainly be given enough publicity. And it would put both parties on the public record as condemning these ridiculous and increasingly harmful comparisons to Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, and any other thug of the week that the Democrats seem willing to equate with George Bush and the Republican party.

As creatures of precedent, Senators are extremely unlikely to push for censure of a colleague whose remarks, even though they gave aid and comfort to our enemies, were said in open debate on the Senate floor. However, a strongly worded letter of reprimand, signed by the leadership of both parties and a majority of Senators, could accomplish pretty much the same goal of undoing some of the damage done to both the Senate and the image of the United States around the world.


For once, John Cole and I agree on something. As usual, Mr. Cole, in his understated and gentle manner, makes his case:

Put down the kool-aid for a second. Do ill-received remarks really rise to the level of censure?

Of course not. Newt Gingrich and anyone who approves of this is an idiot. I am really sick and tired of the curent impulse driving the Republican party to criminalize or punish anything they disagree with. If there is a punishment to be meted out, it will be at the polls when Durbin runs for election. Otherwise, unless you find Durbin really doing something wrong, knock off the censure crap.

Some people better get control of themselves. And it ain’t Dick Durbin, as much as I think he is a political hack. I can understand how good folks are pissed about this, even if I don’t think he was saying our troops are Nazi’s. But censure?

And just in case you are wondering- if anyone had suggested that any of the Republicans above be censured for their remarks, I would be just as pissed.

I disagree that Durbin wasn’t saying our troops are Nazis. He may have misspoke. He may have let his mouth run away from his brain. But he said what he said. And his “apology” was crap. He had the opportunity to clarify his remarks and ended up defending his “historical analogy.”

Censure? No. But when the #2 Democrat casually posits the notion that American soldiers can be compared to murderous thugs, some recognition by his fellow Senators of this is necessary. Hence, the idea for a reprimand.

Cross Posted at Blogger News Network


  1. Let’s reference the Senate website:

    Less severe than expulsion, a censure (sometimes referred to as condemnation or denouncement) does not remove a senator from office. It is a formal statement of disapproval, however, that can have a powerful psychological effect on a member and his/her relationships in the Senate. In 1834, the Senate censured President Andrew Jackson – the first and only time the Senate censured a president. Since 1789 the Senate has censured nine of its members.”

    A “formal statement of disapproval” is too strong for a Senator who has publicly equated our troops with the most murderous regimes ever to inhabit the planet? Sorry, but I disagree. It’s not a free speech issue, it’s being used as grist in the jihadist mill and will certainly be used against the US military members in harm’s way.

    Comment by Patrick — 6/19/2005 @ 10:03 am

  2. I agree with every issue you raised.

    The problem is, what is possible? I would guess there’s a bigger chance that Osama Bin Laden will address the Senate than that body censure Dick Durbin - or any other member for that matter - for what they say on the Senate floor.

    It’s not necessarily “free speech.” It’s a matter of tradition. And Senators are gluttons for tradition.

    Comment by Rick Moran — 6/19/2005 @ 10:08 am

  3. Newt Gingrich chastising Dick Durbin? That cancer ridden wife dropping, adultorous, draft dodging loudmouth has the nerve?

    Well what else is new.

    Durbin is absolutel correct and it’s high time this stains on military honor called Gitmo, Bhagram, and Extraordinary Rendition be reined in.

    That won’t happen as long as murdering innocent men s dismissed as just hijinks.

    Several hours passed before an emergency room doctor finally saw Mr. Dilawar. By then he was dead, his body beginning to stiffen. It would be many months before Army investigators learned a final horrific detail: Most of the interrogators had believed Mr. Dilawar was an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the American base at the wrong time.


    Comment by Richard Bottoms — 6/19/2005 @ 1:13 pm

  4. oops, At first I thought Mr. Bottoms had confused Newt with Mr. Clinton in his first paragraph
    …..my bad.

    Mr. Durbin is absolutly wrong in his comments about Gitmo and so is Mr. Bottoms. Mr. Dilawar did not die at Gitmo. No one had died at Gitmo. Do some some innocent people die in wartime? yes. Is the U.S.military cruel and barbaric? No. Do bad things happen in war? Yes. Do we give up when things get tough? Well, some of us don’t.

    The only stains come from cry babies like Mr. Bottoms who are more interested in advancing political opposition to this President’s policies, despite the terrible consequenses of opening their big, inaccurate mouths, rather than peosecuting the war. Ever hear of “loose lips sink ships”?. Try putting things in perspective Mr. Bottoms. Maybe it would help rather than hurt the effort. Oh, shoot, I forgot, that’s not your agenda….sorry.

    There are consequences to every action. Will my Marine son be in greater danger because of Durban’s big mouth? Possibly.

    I see a different approach: close Gitmo. Close it to any and all access other that the Red Cresent and/or Red Cross and let them do what they need to do without the interference of people like me or Mr. Bottom trying to tell them how to do their jobs.

    Comment by Marv Looopstra — 6/20/2005 @ 9:11 am

  5. I have two concepts to toss out:

    #1: Trent Lott
    #2: Democrat Hypocrisy

    As for #1 — Lott’s leadership position and good name were devastated for statements he made off of the official Senate record and clearly taken out of context. Democrat PC Police would not rest until his remarks were paid for in career blood. No one would be expected to die for his misstatement, either.

    However: there is no way to take Durbin’s On-The-Record words out of context. Durbin knew exactly what he was saying and what he meant to do with it: undermine the Bush administration with impunity — even if it meant undermining War-on-Terror efforts as well. Harm may indeed come to our military overseas because of quotes from Durbin’s idiot pie hole, telecast to islamofascists worldwide via al Jazeera and al Qaeda.

    Which brings us to the fact that Durbin, after his non-apology “revise and extend” comments, still holds a leadership position in the Senate’s minority party.

    Which brings us to item #2 above.

    Comment by The MaryHunter — 6/20/2005 @ 2:37 pm

  6. Dear Richard Bottoms,

    Please stop sucking dick at the Daily KOS. You’re assessment of Newt is near word for word what Armando put out. Stop being a KOSsack, pull your head out of your..er..Armando’s ass and think for yourself.

    Besides, Gingrich wasn’t the only one to call for censure. Zell Miller and a few others called for it as well.

    (Of course you’re probably going to disavow Zell as some traitor because he’s against your democratic party. Either taht or make up some B.S. line about how you didn’t read that over at the Daily Kos and how it was all your words. Face facts sucker: your are a friggin’ zombie to the media from the left. I doubt you even know where FNC sits on your station guide.)

    Damn, I came in here to explain censure and show approval of it in this instance and I end up beating up on trolls. It’s like cockroaches: when you squish one, two more pop up in its place. I think it’s time to start poisoning the nest (metaphorically): Eschaton, Kos, Skippy, et. al.

    Comment by Jeremy H. Bol — 6/20/2005 @ 7:24 pm

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