Political Hay

Is Dick Durbin a Racist?

Holder, Clyburn, and Sharpton silent at double-standard for Clinton and Burris.

By 2.26.09

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Let's take Attorney General Holder up on his advice. No cowards needed in discussing race.

Got it.

So. The Democrats' Illinois Senator Dick Durbin refused to vote to oust a white president from office when, as the whole world knew, said president had lied about his role in the federal crime of sexual harassment. Yet when a black U.S. Senator, Durbin's Illinois colleague Roland Burris, is accused -- with as yet unproven allegations -- of lying to the Illinois House of Representatives, Durbin wants said black Senator's resignation post-haste.

Well now. Isn't that white of him.

And where, pray tell, is the ever vigilant Reverend Al Sharpton? Last seen protesting as racist a New York Post cartoon that portrayed the writer of the stimulus bill (that would be a white woman by the name of Nancy Pelosi) as the now infamous Travis the Chimp, Sharpton is curiously silent on the Durbin double standard.

So too is South Carolina Congressman and House Majority Whip James Clyburn silent about the stand taken by Durbin, Clymer's Whip counterpart over in the Senate. Clymer, a former head of the Congressional Black Caucus, has only days ago made accusations that the Republican governors of Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Louisiana (the latter, Governor Bobby Jindal, is a son of Indian immigrants and thus a "person of color" as the liberal phrase goes) are racist. Why? Because they are considering refusing stimulus money and their states have a considerable number of African-American citizens. Notably, he ignored the same stance when it turned out to be taken by Alaska's Governor Sarah Palin. In the world of racial bean counting, apparently Eskimos aren't worth the rhetorical effort. 

Last but certainly not least, where is Eric Holder himself, the first African-American Attorney General of the United States?

What, specifically, is the Durbin standard on lying if you are a public official?

Back in the paleo-era known as the Clinton administration (for late comers Mr. Clinton is the spouse of the current Secretary of State), the President was on trial in the U.S. Senate after having received a vote to impeach him in the House. The charges against President Clinton in 1999 said, among other things, that he had "engaged personally, and through his subordinates and agents, in a course of conduct or scheme designed to delay, impede, cover up, and conceal the existence of evidence and testimony related to a Federal civil rights action brought against him in a duly instituted judicial proceeding." 

This was a charge that, in his own fashion, Clinton had confessed to when he had taken to the TV airwaves in August of 1998 (pre-YouTube) and confessed that yes, indeed, he had spent months lying about his relationship with a White House intern named Monica Lewinsky. He had also be en, ah, less than truthful on the subject of his relationship as Governor of Arkansas with a young state employee named Paula Jones. Ms. Jones had sued in federal court for sexual harassment. All this, at the time of the Senate vote as to whether Clinton should be forced from office, was very much public knowledge. Indeed, in April of 1999, a mere two months after Durbin voted against taking any action that would remove Clinton, and opposing a resignation or even censure, a federal district judge cited Clinton for contempt of court for what the judge called a "willful failure" to testify truthfully in her courtroom on the Jones sexual harassment lawsuit. Said the judge of Clinton:

Simply put, the president's deposition testimony regarding whether he had ever been alone with Ms. [Monica] Lewinsky was intentionally false, and his statements regarding whether he had ever engaged in sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky likewise were intentionally false.…

Clinton's actions were so egregious that he was ordered to pay a $90,000 fine and his Arkansas law license was suspended for five years. The suspension automatically triggered a similar suspension from the bar of the United States Supreme Court, an action that caused Clinton to resign from the high court's bar altogether.

Now.

Senator Burris, a black man and the only black in the U.S. Senate, stands accused of changing his story about how he came to be appointed to the Senate by the disgraced and now impeached Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Testifying to the Illinois House of Representatives committee that recommended the governor's impeachment, Burris claimed he had no contact with the Governor's aides nor had he offered anything to the governor's camp in return for the appointment. Like Clinton, however, Burris eventually changed his story, admitting in an affidavit that yes, indeed, he had not only spoken to several of the governor's aides he had also spoken to the governor's brother Robert in response to three contacts concerning fundraising. Whether Burris, like Clinton, did anything legally wrong -- whether he lied under oath as did Clinton -- is yet to be determined. A lawyer and former state attorney general (as was Bill Clinton), Burris, unlike Clinton, has not had his Illinois law license suspended nor has his ability to practice in front of the U.S. Supreme Court been questioned.

Yet in a heartbeat, Durbin pounced on Burris in a way he refused flatly to do with Clinton. The white senator who gave a pass to the white president who had lied under oath to a federal judge said this of the only black senator: "the accuracy and completeness of his testimony and affidavits have been called into serious question." And therefore, Durbin wanted the black guy out. Resigned. Gone. Right now.

Over on the Pelosi plantation, Congressman Clyburn agreeably remained silent about this racial double standard. Ditto the Reverend Al up there in New York at Race Industry Inc. And, most disturbing, so too the Attorney General of the United States. No sense callin' out Massa Dick.

All of which brings us back to the remarkably interesting statement of Attorney General Holder that Americans are "a nation of cowards" when it comes to things racial. In fact, as the Durbin double standard with Clinton and Burris illustrates, Holder is all too correct as his own silence on the issue vividly demonstrates.

The Democratic Party, as previously documented in this space, has a horrendous history on racial matters, a history that blacks like Eric Holder are loathe to confess to. The party has a horrifyingly vivid history of support for slavery, segregation, lynching and, in the modern day, racial quotas -- all of which were and are based on the concept of judging people by their skin color. The Ku Klux Klan, as historians and current writers such as Bruce Bartlett in his recent book Wrong on Race have repeatedly documented, served as the military arm of the Democrats when they weren't busy running the Democratic Party itself or representing it in every political office from United States Senator down to city councils. The infamous Birmingham, Alabama Public Safety Commissioner Bull Connor (he of the fire hoses and police dogs used to savage blacks demonstrating for civil rights) was, but of course, a sitting member of the Democratic National Committee at the time.

In the glow of the election of the first black president, there has been a considerable glossing over of the fact that Democrats went out of their way for a full century after the Civil War to undo the ability of blacks to hold elected office in the first place. Indeed, the first black elected to the U.S. House of Representatives after Republicans ended slavery with the passage of the Democrat-opposed Thirteenth Amendment was Joseph Rainey of Clyburn's own South Carolina in 1870. Rainey, like his fellow blacks elected to the House shortly afterward from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and Virginia, was a Republican. So too was the first black to sit in the U.S. Senate, Hiram Rhodes Revels, a Mississippi Republican. Their tenure came to an end when Democrats, using the Klan and the social sewer that was segregation, put an end to black voting for a century.

Racism was a seamless thread in the political culture of Democrats, whether they were busy obstructing civil rights laws in the 1860s or the 1960s. They are even today so marinated in the juices of racial prejudice -- judging every soul walking by their skin color -- that the liberal mainstream media and Democrats like Attorney General Holder rarely have the guts to speak up about the subject. Calling Americans a "nation of cowards" when it comes to dealing with race is one thing in the generic sense. For Holder to specifically nail his former boss Bill Clinton on his conduct towards Obama in the South Carolina primary (when the ex-president effectively dismissed Obama's victory there over Hillary as a result of his race) or to upbraid Durbin over his double standard towards the white Clinton and black Burris is something else again.

To use his own standard, the Attorney General's silence on Durbin's conduct towards the only black man in the Senate is, well, giving every sign that he, Eric Holder, is a coward on the issue of race as it affects Senator Burris. So too with Clyburn and Sharpton. One does not have to hold a brief for Mr. Burris and what he allegedly (and so far it is allegedly) did or did not do to obtain his appointment to the U.S. Senate. That is the responsibility of the voters of Illinois, who will have their say at the regularly scheduled election in 2010, now less than a year away.

But make no mistake.

If a white US Senator could not find his voice when it came to the topic of whether a white president should stay in office after being caught flagrantly lying to a federal judge -- not to mention the rest of the nation including the U.S. Senate itself -- than what other reason can there be why that same Senator is trying to politically lynch a sitting U.S. Senator well before the evidence is in?

How about this one? Bill Clinton is white. Roland Burris is black. Get the rope.

The real question here is whether the Attorney General of the United States, the House Majority Whip and the Reverend Sharpton have the guts to speak up and demand equal Clinton-like treatment for Senator Burris.

Or have we just matched three very specific faces to Holder's charge that America is "a nation of cowards" when it comes to race?

And is one of those faces the face of Eric Holder?

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About the Author
Jeffrey Lord is a former Reagan White House political director and author. He writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com.