Sen. Bullhead from Illinois is hooked on outrage

Dick Durbin not only baited his own hook, he swallowed it whole

Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass and reporter Jenniffer Weigel talk Senator Dick Durbin's assertion that an unnamed House Republican insulted President Barack Obama. (Posted Friday, October 25, 2013)

Outrage drove Captain Ahab relentlessly after that great white whale, and apparently, it drives Sen. Dick Durbin too.

Durbin, the unctuous Democrat running for re-election in President Barack Obama's political home state, is consumed by outrage. And he's famous for chasing the Republicans on the high seas of his anger.

This week, he's outraged once again.

But this time, for a price.

This one has nothing to do with his indignation of years ago, when he loudly compared American troops to Nazis for the way they allegedly treated suspected terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay.

He kinda-sorta apologized for that one, saying he was sorry "if" anyone was offended.

But Durbin is not apologizing this time. He's outraged by an unidentified Republican who may have disrespected the face of the president, even if the White House says the insult that Durbin is outraged about didn't happen.

Durbin expressed his outrage on Facebook early this week, saying a Republican congressman meeting with Obama about the shutdown told the president: "I cannot even stand to look at you."

Unfortunately for Durbin, White House press secretary Jay Carney said he looked into Durbin's story, even spoke to someone at the meeting, and told reporters the presidential face was not dishonored.

"It did not happen," Carney said.

That seems clear enough.

And it would have started to fade away, except we learned Thursday that Durbin had sent out a fundraising letter. The senior senator from Illinois cited the apparent outrage to Obama's face, but suggested he'd feel a lot better if Democrats sent him $16.

In his fundraising pitch, Durbin writes:

"Let me ask you: What are the chances of an honest conversation with someone who has just said, 'I cannot even stand to look at you'?"

A few paragraphs down he writes "Please, click here to send my campaign $16 — one dollar for every day of the reckless and irresponsible Republican Shutdown — or whatever you can afford."

That's right, Durbin was so upset that President Obama's face was disrespected — by a Republican who the White House says does not exist — that Durbin is willing to take 16 bucks.

Sixteen bucks to assuage a mythical insult to a president's face? How noble is that?

The campaign for Doug Truax, a West Point graduate and Republican running for Durbin's seat, found the Durbin letter. Truax said Durbin should return the money pronto.

When reporters kept asking on Thursday, the White House issued another statement saying that there was "miscommunication" about what was said at the meeting.

In other words, an unnamed White House aide fell on an unseen political sword to protect Durbin, who'd attacked a non-existent Republican for not genuflecting before Obama's face.

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