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Sen. Bullhead from Illinois is hooked on outrage

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By John Kass
Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

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. This time Durbin is 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 last 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. “It did not happen,” Carney said.

It would have started to fade away, except we learned last week that Durbin had sent out a fundraising letter, citing the apparent outrage to Obama's face, but suggesting he'd feel better if Democrats sent him $16.

In his fundraising pitch, Durbin 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.”

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

When reporters kept asking last week, 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.

Then Durbin put out yet another statement, again on Facebook, thanking the White House for its “clarification.”

Durbin tried to use something that didn't happen to manufacture anger in a fundraising letter. He not only baited his own hook, he swallowed it whole like a bullhead in some Illinois pond. Then Durbin started wiggling and the White House, taking pity on Sen. Bullhead, cut the slimy fish loose.

Unfortunately, while Durbin was engaged with mythic presidential face disrespecting, he missed two other outrages. Both involved liberal racism ignored by much of the media and by many Democrats.

During a broadcast, CNBC showed a photograph of Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. And CNBC reporter Steve Liesman said this: “Can we get some music to go along with that? Some Mexican music, maybe.”

Some Mexican music, Mr. Liesman? With trumpets and sombreros?

Liberals weren't outraged with Liesman's racism, because, to put it simply, Cruz is a Republican.

Liesman issued an apology, saying he wanted to “sincerely apologize if my remarks were insensitive.” If?

And Democrat U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson from Orlando, Fla. compared the tea party movement to the Ku Klux Klan. In a campaign email, Grayson used a photograph of a burning cross with Klansmen around it. The cross became the “T” in “Tea Party” in Grayson's message.

Grayson wouldn't apologize. His spokesman sent out this response: “If the shoe fits, wear it.”

That's how outrage works in American politics. When conservatives say stupid things, they're rightfully and loudly condemned. But when liberals do it? There is no outrage. There isn't even much media noise.

It's about as loud as the sound of one fish fin clapping in a muddy creek. Right, Sen. Bullhead?

John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune.

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