by Teri O'Brien
Recently I appeared with Dr. Steve Sauerberg on a local radio program. The subject was not the latest weight loss fad, or ways to lower cholesterol, although you can be forgiven if no other reason that the good doctor might be invited on a radio show sprung immediately to mind.
Chances are that if you stood on the corner of State and Madison and asked the first one hundred people who walked by “Who is Dr. Steve Sauerberg?” most would look puzzled and reply “Mmm, is he that guy who shows up on Oprah wearing scrubs talking about poop?” Fewer than five out of the hundred would accurately identify him as the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in this November’s election.
As Illinois Review readers no doubt know, his opponent is Dick “Eddie Haskell” Durbin, who earned that name for his nauseatingly avuncular, soft—spoken demeanor, his constant sighing expressions of sadness over the dishonesty of Republicans, and his obviously phony earnestness. He does the fake sincerity thing almost as well as Diane Sawyer.
In the hope of avoiding what appears to be the inevitable looming disaster of six more years of Durbin, I offer the following suggestions to Dr. Sauerberg and his campaign.
Dear Dr. Sauerberg,
I am well aware of the, shall we say, resistance that doctors have to taking advice. Some have even called it a “God” complex. We’ve met and you seem like a reasonable guy, though, and I am supporting you. We appeared together recently on a local radio show, and you said “we can always use more help and direction,” so here goes. I’m sad to say that based on what I heard that day, if things in your campaign don’t change and change fast, Sen. Durbin will be sworn in for his third term come January without even breaking a sweat.
Dial it up a notch
When I asked you what the worst thing was that Durbin supporters could say about you, you thought about it for a minute and finally replied that you are “boring.” Forgive me, Dr., but you didn’t realize how right you are, and not because you’re the only person born in 1953 who never smoked marijuana, a fact that you recited with the smug self-satisfaction of that kid who sits in the front row and always has the right answer. I never smoked dope either, and frankly, no one cares and no thinks either of us deserves a medal. What is distressing is not that silly bit of pointless self-righteousness, but the fact that your presentation IS boring, even when you’re talking about the Senate race. I must ask you: how in the world can a man loan his campaign $1 million when he doesn’t seem the slightest bit interested in winning? I’ve heard more passion from the people in line at Dunkin Doughnuts ordering their morning coffee. Speaking of which, you also bragged that you’ve never had a cup of coffee. There’s a way to connect with the average voter! In my opinion, you should start mainlining super-caffeinated coffee so that you don’t sound like you’re either 200 years old or ready for a nap. You described yourself as a “high energy guy,” but our current presentation gives “low energy” a brand new, and depressing, meaning. You come across as having not only no energy, but no confidence, not only in yourself, but in the power of your arguments. Sen. Durbin and his supporters won’t have to accuse you of being boring. That fact is painfully apparent.
Realize that the Media Isn’t Going to Make the Case for You
I think most of us know that Dick Durbin has a lot to answer for. The infamous “our interrogators at Gitmo are as bad as Pol Pot and Nazis” speech is well-known. Let’s consider just a couple of other examples that illustrate why, to quote Barack Hussein Obama, “Dick Durbin, you make us all proud!”
Durbin was for life before he was against it.
In 1983, when Dick Durbin was elected to U.S. House, he was pro-life. At that time, ten years after Roe v. Wade was decided, the 39 year-old Georgetown law grad said “the right to abortion is not guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution.” So what happened? Here’s what our senior senator replied when Tim Russert asked him on “Meet the Press” (July 24, 2005):
“Well, at that point, I can tell you I came to Congress not having seen what I think is the important part of this debate and not understanding, if you will, really what was behind it. You know, it's a struggle for me. It still is. I'm opposed to abortion. If any woman in my family said she was seeking abortion, I'd go out of my way to try to dissuade them from making that decision. But I was really discouraged when I came to Washington to find that the opponents of abortion were also opponents of family planning. This didn't make any sense to me. And I was also discouraged by the fact that they were absolute, no exceptions for rape and incest, the most extraordinary medical situations. And I finally came to the conclusion that we really have to try to honor the Roe vs. Wade thinking, that there are certain times in the life of a woman that she needs to make that decision with her doctor, with her family and with her conscience and that the government shouldn't be intruding. It's true that my position changed, but as Abraham Lincoln said when they accused him of changing his position, "I'd rather be right some of the time than wrong all the time."
So because of the mean-spirited attitudes of those nasty pro-life people suddenly this former law professor and legal counsel for the Illinois Senate Judiciary Committee found an absolute right to abortion in the U.S. Constitution? That is beyond not rational. It sounds like the babbling of a blithering idiot, or a pathetic weasel trying, and failing, to justify a politically-expedient position.
Durbin is more concerned about the “rights” of terrorists than preventing the murder of innocent Americans
Durbin, while railing against those fighting the war on terror, admits on national television that he does not know what he would have done to prevent 9/11. On his 'Hardball' show on MSNBC on January 6, 2005, Chris Matthews asks Dick Durbin about his policy on torture in the context of questioning terrorist prisoners. Here's the question:
'Well, let me give you an example close to home. We picked up Moussaoui, who many people believe was the 20th hijacker. We picked him up before 9/11. If you had been there, the commander on the spot, and you knew that this character knew that something was coming really bad, would you have turned the thumbscrews on him?'
And what does Mr. Accountabilty say? The guy who condemns every action by the adminstration to fight the war on terror? He must have a better idea, right? Not exactly. He replies:
"To stop 3,000 people from dying, I'm not sure what I would have done."
What?! You don't know what you would have done?! But feel free, Senator, to criticize those who are responsible for making the tough decisions. Isn't it nice to have the luxury of sitting back to point fingers at dedicated public servants, self—righteously pound the table demanding that our evil government respect the civil rights of our enemies, and wallow in narcissistic conspiracy theories in which one is the ultimate victim, like the time back in July, 2003, when Durbin claimed that the White House was out to get him a la that other preening pantload, Joe Wilson.
These television appearances are available on video tape, and many of us remember seeing them. Do you think the average Illinois voter did? Do you think he or she is aware of these disgraceful and ridiculous positions by Sen. Durbin? It is incumbent on you to make them aware, and that’s not going to happen unless you and your campaign make it happen. You and no one else. You seem to have a touching 8th-grade civics faith in the journalist skills and desire to search for the truth on the part of the likes of Andy Shaw and “bipartisan” groups like the League of Women Voters. You said that the media will bring Sen. Durbin’s unwillingness to debate you to the attention of the public. During that radio appearance, talking about the possibility of Sen. Durbin debating you, you said “I think the media will push him. I think the League of Women Voters will push him.” You said “we sincerely hope that we won’t be the only ones pushing it.” Doctor, with all due respect, are you kidding me? OF COURSE you will the only one pushing it!
You Have Absolutely NOTHING to Lose, so Act Like It
As noted above, you are facing a popular, albeit inexplicably so, incumbent. You seem to be fond of reciting slogans like “Dick Durbin Doesn’t Represent Our Values.” What does that mean anyway? Characterizing Sen. Durbin as “annoying,” which you portray as evidence of your willingness to walk on the wild side, is equally meaningless. How about saying that he wants to coddle terrorists? That he wants to give illegals the right to vote by letting them get a driver’s license and register at the DMV? Repeating: you have nothing to lose. Telling the truth is the least you can do.
Stop Buying Into the Liberal Template
Liberalism is a syndrome that afflicts those with low self-esteem, and yet often it seems that conservatives are the ones who are desperate to be loved. If not, why do so many feel compelled to say “me too!” to whatever foolishness liberals say? For example, the frequent liberal lamentation, made famous by Barack Obama, to forego “partisan bickering.” Let me translate that: there’s no need to discuss serious public policy matters. Just admit we’re right, that big government and socialism are the answer to all of mankind’s ills and submit. In my opinion, you should embrace “partisan bickering,” and challenge your left-wing opponents to respond in the arena of ideas.
Bottom LIne: You Need to Grow Up and Grow Up Fast
During the interview, when I asked you if you thought the media’s coverage had been reasonable, you said that you thought the coverage of the campaign had been “reasonable,” and when I asked if you thought the media was exposing the truth about Durbin, you replied “I think that there’s a chance that they will.” There’s also a chance that my iPod will turn into a time machine, I guess. I’m not waiting around for it to happen, but then, I haven’t bet $1million that it will. You actually said “I just hope the people of this state in the next six months realize what kind of guy this is.” Let’s see, he’s been elected twice, and the last time he won by 22%. Dare to dream, Steve.