Sunday, October 31, 2010

An Interview with Senator Durbin

Senator Richard Durbin, the Majority Whip of the US Senate, recently came to Philadelphia because “he needs Joe Sestak in the Senate.” Durbin has been barnstorming the country and donating to the campaigns of his present and future colleagues in the Senate.

In a stop to thank campaign volunteers, Durbin describes his position as Majority Whip, “With all my education and experience, my job comes down to knowing how to count to sixty.”

Durbin poked fun at the Republicans, “The Tea Partiers want to take our country back. The Democrats want to take our country forward.” Durbin added, “The Republicans want to take the security out of social security.” Durbin believes that the Democrats will prevail in the close races because they have momentum on their side.

Durbin, who lost three elections before elected to office, could become Majority Leader of the Senate if Harry Reid loses his re-election bid. He is nervous about Reid’s chances because “the Republicans have raised $14 million to defeat him.” Durbin, not known for his charisma, joked about his ascension to power, “I asked my wife, who was with me from the beginning, if she ever thought, in her wildest dreams, that this would happen. She answered that I wasn’t in her wildest dreams. That’s okay after 43 years of marriage.”

Eschewing the trappings of office, Durbin walked on foot unrecognized by Philadelphians to campaign stops in center city. He did not watch the debate between Senate Candidates Joe Sestak and Pat Toomey at the National Constitutional Center with the dignitaries, but with Democratic Party campaign workers at the local headquarters on Chestnut Street. Durbin reviewed the debate, “I loved Joe Sestak’s comment ‘The constitution says We the people, not We the corporation.”

If the Democrats lose seats in the election, Durbin did not express confidence that much can be accomplished in the next session of Congress. “It was hard to get anything done when we had 60 Democratic votes in Congress,” he noted. “After Scott Brown’s election to the Senate from Massachusetts, we had to secure the vote of a moderate Republican such as Sue Collins and George Voinovich to pass any legislation. Looking at the Republicans that could be elected to Congress in November, the tea baggers in particular, I just do not know if we will be able to work with them.”

Durbin continued, “Maybe Lindsay Graham will work with us on climate change. John McCain, before he ran for the Senate this time, would have helped us with immigration reform. Let’s hope he will do so again.”

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