Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), the second-highest ranking member of the Democrat-controlled Senate, has admitted that he lied about the House Republican leadership when he claimed that one of them had said they “cannot even stand to look at” President Barack Obama. The obvious implication of Durbin’s false smear was that House Republican leaders hated President Obama because of the color of his skin.
Even in a hyperpartisan Congress, it is hard to imagine a worse act of bad faith–especially in the Senate, which prides itself on collegiality, and especially from one of the most senior leaders, responsible not only for his own party but for the institution itself. In a Facebook post acknowledging the “clarification” from the White House, which denied the smear, Durbin failed to apologize for spreading it in the first place.
Not only did Durbin try to poison the political well for partisan reasons, but also for profit. As Illinois Review–one of those blogs Durbin dislikes so much–reported, he sent out a fundraising email nine minutes after he posted the smear. “Please, click here to send my campaign $16–one dollar for every day of the reckless and irresponsible Republican Shutdown…” He has not announced plans to return the money.
Once the truth became known to everyone, Durbin refused to remove his original Facebook post for several days. He blames the media: “If I’d have raced to take it off, [the media] would have done that story too,” he said. He felt no independent ethical duty, as a member of the Bar and a leader of the Senate, to correct the record. He disgraced the institution he helps to lead. He should be censured, and resign as Majority Whip.