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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Friday, April 12

Gapers Block

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Senator Dick Durbin has been under fire the last week because the media has mischaracterized something he said. While criticizing the administration's pro-torture policy at the Guantanamo prison camp in Cuba, Durbin read a report by an FBI agent and commented that the descriptions of torture from that FBI agent were more like something to be found in reports of torture from the Soviet Union, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia or even Nazi Germany.

Immediately, the media began shouting, "Dick Durbin called our troops Nazis!" Of course, to be fair, what Durbin did was make a comparison between two varieties of torture that wasn't apt, except that they were both forms of torture.

Since then, several Democrats — including our own Mayor Daley, whose son is now in the armed forces — have come out and asked Durbin to apologize, and the Republican attack machine has gone into overdrive, demanding he not only apologize, but that he outright resign.

Much of the reason the right is so intent on going after Durbin on this is that Durbin a populist, popular Democrat with possible presidential aspirations. He's a great politician and likable across ideological and geographic barriers. Who better to smear?

Unfortunately, the Senior Senator decided to issue a tepid apology of the "I'm sorry if I offended anybody" variety.

In the interest of balance, I decided to call a friend of mine, Fake Fakely Esq., a media consultant for Ifonly Consulting, Ltd. For those of you who have never heard of Ifonly Consulting, they are a near-bankrupt firm consisting of septuagenarian Democratic consultants not hired by anybody since the 1964 LBJ-Goldwater blowout. My conversation with Mr. Fakely was interesting:

ME: Hey! Fakely! What's the good word!?

FAKELY: Feh. Like you care. Go on.

ME: I was just calling to see if I could get some advice from you.

FAKELY: It'll cost you.

ME: Sure. What're you charging nowadays?

FAKELY: $185 an hour, plus expenses.

ME: Really?

FAKELY: I'll do it for a bag of Pemican jerky and if you'll lay off the juice on the dime I dropped on—

ME: Yeah yeah, anyway... sure thing, Fakely. Anyway, you heard about this whole Dick Durbin nonsense?

FAKELY: Have I!? You bet. Dolly the secretary with the sweet gams was telling us all about it. Geez, what a scene, huh? I bet it's all over Cronkite.

ME: Right... look, I was just wondering—

FAKELY: And I bet Jack Benny's been having a field day!

ME: We get it, you're old. Look, if you were his consultant—

FAKELY: He hiring?

ME: Uh, I'll ask him. If you were his consultant, and he said what he said, how would you advise him to respond to the media hounds?

FAKELY: This is a gift, kiddo! Nothing like free publicity. He gets out there on the Senate floor, calls the sums-a-bitches traitors to their face and doesn't back down. We play it real Mr. Smith Goes To Washington... yeah... the administration is doing wrong, I'm Dick Durbin and I'M GONNA STOP IT!

ME: But the media is spinning it that he called our boys over there Nazis, that he's comparing fighting U.S. troops to Nazis.

FAKELY: Bullhocky. And everybody knows it—

ME: Well, the media is coming after him hard. You wouldn't tell him to offer a grief-filled, teary apology, like those televangelists?

FAKELY: You crazy? He's trying to stop torture! Look, kid, this Durbin fella coulda won the day easy, with one phrase: "This administration supports torture — I never made that comparison."

ME: Oh yeah?

FAKELY: Sure! Just repeat it over and over again, no matter what people said. They ask him, they go, "But critics are saying that you are demeaning the Holocaust by comparing Guantanmo Bay to a death camp —" He says, "This administration supports torture — I never made that comparison." They say to him, "Mr. Durbin, is it right to call young Americans risking their lives overseas Nazis?" He replies, "This administration supports torture — I never made that comparison." They says to him, they go, "Mr. Durbin, will you apologize for calling our soldiers Nazis?" He says, "This administration supports torture — I never made that comparison."

ME: As easy as that?

FAKELY: Sure. The more he says that this administration supports torture, the more he repeats it, the more the media will have to deal with it, and the less the Conservative whack-a-doos will want to push the issue. They took his brave statement on the floor of the Senate and neutered the thing by making it about our boys in Iraq — he was talking about trained torturers in Gitmo.

ME: Wow, sounds like pretty good advice. You're saying if he just stuck to his guns and refused to forgive the administration for being pro-torture, he coulda come out looking like a hero... man, if only you were working for him!

FAKELY: Hey, whaddya got on the Sox game this weekend?

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About the Author(s)

Ramsin Canon covers and works in politics in Chicago. If you have a tip, a borderline illegal leak, or a story that needs to be told, contact him at .

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