Blame Sen. Dick Durbin for congressional gridlock

With public approve of Congress at or near all-time lows because partisan politics has paralyzed the House and Senate, it is amazing how Illinois' own Democratic senator, Dick Durbin, the second most powerful man in the Senate, has escaped any blame.

Of course, he doesn't deserve the entire blame, but as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's whip, Durbin's efforts--if there are any--to end the gridlock have gone unnoticed. Keep in mind that the autocratic Reid, perhaps the most partisan congressional leader in decades, has prevented the Senate from voting on  hundreds of bills passed by the House.

Democrats accuse Republican House Speaker John Boehner of engaging in the same kind of obstructionism, and he is rightly taking heat for it. But Durbin's role in the this morass has been unreported and overlooked. Unless I've missed it, Illinois state Sen. JIm Oberweis, Durbin's Republican opponent in the Nov. 4 election, hasn't made it an issue either.

How can this be? A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released yesterday (10/14/14) shows that a stunning 83 percent disapprove of the job that Congress is doing, leaving only  12 percent approving and 5 percent undecided. Who, one reasonably can ask, are those 12 percent?  Summarizing the poll, The Hill noted that voters generally prefer a Republican-led Congress, although, paradoxically, Republicans are narrowing viewed more negatively than Democrats.

In some quarters, Durbin and the third most powerful Senate Democratic, Chuck Schumer of New York, are considered to be more astute and less partisan than Reid, although, personally, I see little evidence of Durbin's willingness to "work across the aisle." Durbin, in my view, is one of the most opportunistic pols to come out of Illinois, having, for example, abandoned his pro-life position to embrace pro-choicers when it suited his cravings to move up from his Downstate, more conservative congressional seat to campaign for the Senate.

Come election day, the polls show that Illinois voters again will likely return Durbin to the Senate, to again kowtow to Reid. As Reid's whip, Durban's job is to keep Democratic senators in line and from deviating from Reid's rigid, narrowly partisan political agenda. When it came to standing up for Illinois against Reid's refusal to allow Illinois' waste from its many nuclear power stations to be stored in a environmentally safe depository under a Nevada mountain in Reid's home state, Durbin failed to protect his own constituents. For the sake of his leadership position.

If the ambitious Durbin were truly willing to try to break the gridlock, he would declare now, before the election, that he will challenge Reid for the top leadership post, whether or not Democrats retain control of the Senate. I wouldn't hold my breath.

Notice Durbin in this video. Don't you just love Reid's promise to be bi-partisan.

For information on my award-winning historical novel, "Madness: The War of 1812," visit:

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  • Harry Reid is the most partisan congressional leader in decades? Ever heard of a gentleman named Newt Gingrich? Or the distinguished Tom DeLay?

    As for Reid blocking legislation passed by the House, I suspect you know that's pretty routine for any Congress, and hardly the most glaring indicator of congressional dysfunction. How about the fact that the GOP minority is responsible for a staggering, record-breaking number of filibusters. And then there are those multiple judicial nominees who would be easily confirmed but for holds places by GOP senators. And should I mention that it was the Republican House that singlehandedly forced last year's government shutdown?

    All I can figure is you're either willfully ignorant or you really don't understand what's happening in D.C.

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