A couple weeks ago, Dem Majority Whip Sen. Dick Durbin posted an outrageous claim on Facebook that a House GOP leader had told President Obama that he “cannot stand to look at” him during talks on resolving a government shutdown. Even after House GOP Leadership and the White House denied the claim, Durbin used the anecdote in a fundraising email. Acknowledging the event never happened, Durbin quietly deleted his Facebook post on Monday.
“[The White House] gave me a bad quote and then they said it didn’t occur,” Durbin said. “Now it’s history, it’s behind us.”
Durbin was not at the meeting where the alleged incident happened. Even given Washington’s increasingly polarized environment, Durbin’s allegation struck veteran observers as “off-key.” Adults, even with opposing political views, simply don’t speak that way. For Durbin, it was a convenient fable to show how irresponsible Republicans were.
Durbin recently wrote on Facebook: “I appreciate this clarification from the White House that explains recent conflicting reports on the GOP quote. It is important now to move beyond the unfortunate events of the last few weeks and work together constructively so that we’re not faced with another shutdown showdown or debt-ceiling debacle.”
Keep in mind, the “conflicting reports” are only because Durbin lied about what the GOP said. Perhaps Durbin didn’t lie. Perhaps he just related a lie told to him by a White House staffer. If that is the case, who is that staffer?
Still, I guess it is good that Durbin now wants to work “constructively” with Republicans in the upcoming budget talks. Presumably, by working “constructively,” Durbin means he will no longer engage in smears against his political opponents.