Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Durbin apologizes. Is it enough?

Dick Durbin has now seen fit to actually apologize for his remarks last week when he compared our military and other officials at Gitmo with Nazi concentration camp guards, Soviets running the gulags, and murderous Khmer Rouge. The story:

::::::::Sen. Dick Durbin went to the Senate floor late Tuesday to offer his apologies to anyone who may have been offended by his comparison of treatment of detainees at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to Nazis, Soviet gulags and Cambodia's Pol Pot.

"More than most people, a senator lives by his words ... occasionally words fail us, occasionally we will fail words," Durbin, D-Ill., said.

"I am sorry if anything I said caused any offense or pain to those who have such bitter memories of the Holocaust, the greatest moral tragedy of our time. Nothing, nothing should ever be said to demean or diminish that moral tragedy.

"I am also sorry if anything I said cast a negative light on our fine men and women in the military ... I never ever intended any disrespect for them. Some may believe that my remarks crossed the line to them I extend my heartfelt apology," Durbin said, choking on his words.

All right, time to get some stuff off my chest. First, this sounds like more of the same non-apology apology stuff in that he's got that prominently placed "if" thoughout all his apologies. "I am sorry if anything I said caused any offense..." Both times he seems to reach out with an apology, he qualifies it. This isn't the mark of a person who honestly believes he said something uncalled for. This isn't a man who understands that what he said isn't true. The onus for whether or not an offense was made, so far as Senator Durbin is concerned, is on the person hearing the words. It's not that the words spoken were offensive at all. He pretty clearly thinks what he said was on target. He's just sorry someone got offended when he said it.

Kinda reminds me of my kid when she says she's sorry about having her hand elbow-deep in the cookie jar. She's not sorry she disobeyed me when I said she couldn't have one. She's sorry she got caught. Durbin's in the same place. He's not sorry he was an arrogant, insensitive, morally equivalizing, treasonous jerk, he's just sorry people came away from the comments with that impression.

Second, I can't say with confidence that he intended to show disrespect for the men and women of our military. I can say with 100% confidence that he sure as hell didn't intend to not show disrespect.

Third, and this actually follows in line with my first point, there's that qualifying remark at the end that "Some believe that my remarks crossed the line..." I'm sorry, Senator. "Some?" The way he puts that, I can pretty much conclude he's not a member of that group. He doesn't think he crossed the line, and that's pretty instructive as to his real feelings. So, is it enough?

Not from where I'm sitting.

I realize it's probably all we're going to get, but for this to have been a real apology it would have had to have something like, "My remarks last week were injurious, based on uncorroborated information, and simply uncalled for. I have no evidence of systematic wrongdoing there at Gitmo and, even if I had, nothing even rumored to be taking place sinks to the level of the inhumanity of the Nazi regime, the Soviet actions in the gulag, or the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge. I was wrong to say so and I offer my deepest apologies to those I wronged with my words. I will be certain to take greater care when I speak out on important issues in the future." A man takes responsibility for his words, most especially when they wrong someone else. You apologize in unambigous terms and you pledge to do better in the future. Senator Durbin's "apology" fails across the board. No real surprise.

Fox News' story said the Senator was choking on his words as he read his apology. Would have better off, I think, if he'd have done that about a week ago.

Update: Oh, last thing. I note that John McCain about busted a leg jumping up there to say that the apology was good enough for him. I'm soooo glad. Now, if I ever seem to be writing here like I value what McCain thinks, you can conclude that someone has hacked my Blogger password and is posting as an imposter.