What motive does Senator Dick Durbin have to lie about his revelation? Sen. Durbin’s reputation as an honorable man speaks for itself. On the other hand the GOP reputation for lying is legendary.
I believe the White House denies the incident for two reasons: the embarrassment it has caused them and the fact that they don’t want to acknowledge an incident that might start a precedent.
According to his office, the Senator stands by his statement.
No matter how many times you’ve been there, the White House is a pretty awesome place, conferring on every president what “The West Wing” creator Aaron Sorkin once called “the single greatest home-court advantage in the modern world.”
So it would have to rank as the biggest “in your face” any modern president has faced if someone actually said to Barack Obama, in his own workspace — where a constantly shifting array of blown-up photographs of him line the halls and a retinue of helicopters wait at his beck and call — “I cannot even stand to look at you.”
Such an insult — delivered eyeball to eyeball — would trump Rep. Joe Wilson’s shouted “You lie!” on the House floor during the Obama’s health care speech to Congress in 2009.
It would top former Vice President Dick Cheney’s terse suggestion on the Senate floor in 2004 that Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) should perform an anatomically improbable act. And it would make Dick Armey’s heated advice to a scolding Bill Clinton (“Perhaps it’s my Western upbringing, but I don’t listen very well when someone’s pointing a finger in my face!”) during the 1995 government shutdown seem positively polite by comparison.
Perhaps only John Quincy Adams’s dismissal of Thomas Jefferson as “a slur upon the moral government of the world” sounds worse — and Adams made that assessment in the late 1820s, after Jefferson was dead.
But “I cannot even stand to look at you,” is what Sen. Dick Durbin says one unnamed House GOP leader told Obama in a meeting during the recent government shutdown.
By Wednesday afternoon, spokesmen for the White House and Speaker John Boehner had flatly denied that any such encounter ever occurred. But Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, posted the allegation on Facebook over the weekend, and his office said Wednesday that he stood by his words.
In fact, the alleged dis words are so personal, so passionate, so disaffected-high-school-sweetheart in tone — “I cannot even stand to look at you” — that it’s hard to imagine any grown man saying them to another — much less to the president. “What are the chances of an honest conversation with someone who has just said something so disrespectful?” Durbin’s Facebook post asked with understatement.
It boggles the mind to think what, if anything, Obama could have said in reply: Funny, I can’t even see you!
Alas, White House press secretary Jay Carney insisted that Durbin’s story just wasn’t true. “I looked into this and spoke with somebody who was in that meeting, and it did not happen,” Carney said. And Boehner’s spokesman, Michael Steel, said, “The speaker certainly didn’t say that and does not recall anyone else doing so.”
And yet Max Gleischman, a spokesman for Durbin, the Senate’s second-ranking Democrat, said, “Durbin stands by his comments.”
It’s worth noting that the only face-to-face meeting between Obama and House GOP leaders was on Oct. 10, and Durbin was not present.
But given the bitter state of relations between Obama and the House Republicans, it’s easy enough to imagine that more than one of them went into their meeting in the Roosevelt Room feeling like the distraught Aunt Em in “The Wizard of Oz,” who told the Toto-taking Miss Gulch: “For 23 years, I’ve been dying to tell you what I thought of you. And now, well, being a Christian woman, I can’t say it!”
Even in Washington — especially in Washington — it may be best to let some thoughts rest — unexpressed.
- Durbin refuses to name Republican he accuses of supposedly hating on Obama (illinoisreview.typepad.com)
- White House denies GOP leader told Obama ‘I cannot even stand to look at you’ (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
- Durbin: House GOPer Told Obama ‘I Cannot Even Stand To Look At You’ (talkingpointsmemo.com)
- Durbin stands by comments on GOP (politico.com)
- Sen. Dick Durbin: GOP Leader Told Obama ‘I Can’t Even Stand to Look at You’ (mediaite.com)
- Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin says During Shutdown Negotiations, Top House GOP Leader Told Obama, “I Cannot Even Stand to Look at You” (blackchristiannews.com)
- White House Denies Dick Durbin Claim That GOP Leader “Cannot Even Stand to Look At” Obama (swampland.time.com)