UPDATE 3: Well, it looks like this story continues...The Huffington Post now reports it was Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) who allegedly told President Obama he could not bear to look at him at a meeting earlier this month.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) let his Democratic caucus know last week in a private meeting that a top House Republican told President Barack Obama, "I cannot even stand to look at you," according to two Democratic senators who were present, and confirmed by two Senate Democratic aides who said they independently learned of the exchange from two other senators.More:
One of the two Democratic senators who spoke to HuffPost said that Reid told the caucus about the incident last Tuesday and named Sessions. He also told the caucus that he was "sorry" to have to tell them about it, per this senator, but gave Obama credit for his "dignified" response to Sessions. Reid reportedly told the caucus that Obama responded to Sessions by saying he understood they disagreed on many issues and he respected their differences.Sessions' office is denying the charge and the WH is attributing the kerfuffle to a "miscommunication" made during the reading back of the meeting's transcript.
UPDATE 2: Hmmmm...now Chad Pergram of FOX is tweeting that he contacted Durbin's office and the Senator is sticking with his story:
Durbin's office says the sen stands by his comments that Hse ldrshp R said they can't stand to look at Obama, even after Carney debunked itTPM has it, too (h/t eztempo) as does Huffington Post, which included this tidbit in an article earlier this evening:
But two Democratic aides, both of whom requested anonymity, told The Huffington Post that the incident was relayed to members during a Senate Democratic Caucus meeting shortly after it allegedly happened. And Durbin isn’t backing down from the claims he originally made on his Facebook page on Sunday.Thanks for the find, PorridgeGun. The fact that Durbin discussed the incident with others just after it happened seems to indicate the story is legit.
“Sen. Durbin stands by his comments,” Durbin spokesman Max Gleischman told The Huffington Post.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: Thanks to hulibow and Paleo for pointing out WH spokesman Jay Carney denied Durbin's account at today's briefing. Here is the text:
QUESTION: Just to follow up on that. In terms of the president talking to Republicans, can you rule out -- there was the number two Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin, said on his Facebook page that someone in recent exchange with the president said he can't even stand, this member of Congress, that he can't even stand to look at the president. Can you say whether that happened?This is just a quick diary to call attention to a story published tonight on The Hill's blog site.
JAY CARNEY: I will say this, I spoke with somebody who was in that meeting and it did not happen.
QUESTION: Did the White House speak to Senator Durbin about this?
CARNEY: I don't know. My understanding is that, again, from participants in the meeting that that didn't happen.
QUESTION: Did anything like it happen that would --
CARNEY: Not that I'm aware of, Jackie.
To put it short, this story, if true, turns my stomach, and says a lot about why Obama needs to continue to stand strong against House Republicans and FOR Democratic priorities. And why we all need to stand with him.
Summary under the jump...
According to The Hill, Sen. Dick Durbin said:
...a leading House Republican told President Obama that they could not 'even stand to look at you' during negotiations over the government shutdown.Like most of you, I've become sick to death of the "both sides do it" false equivalency thing our press does so well. I used to be a reporter. And an editor. What I was taught in J school was that stories needed to be balanced in that both sides got a say, as in a chance to respond to bad news or allegations. I was never taught not to tell the truth, only to allow comment on both sides, and to present the facts objectively.
...Durbin (D-Ill.) said in a Facebook post that the alleged confrontation happened during a meeting between Republicans and the president.
"Many Republicans searching for something to say in defense of the disastrous shutdown strategy will say President Obama just doesn't try hard enough to communicate with Republicans," Durbin said. "But in a 'negotiation' meeting with the president, one GOP House Leader told the president: "I cannot even stand to look at you.'"
"What are the chances of an honest conversation with someone who has just said something so disrespectful?" the Illinois Democrat added.
This is not what has been happening in our media at a national level and I hope stories like this might penetrate a bit. How CAN Obama "negotiate" with people who say they can't even look at him? How is there any equivalency in position when it is so clear one side just "cannot stand" him?
This is a bit of a mess as a diary, but I think this small story deserves discussion and I hope that posting it here will give it some national mention.
Please don't read The Hill comments, which are run over by teabaggers. I did my best trolling as a Virginia indy, but that place is infested.
UPDATE: Here is the link to Durbin's comments. So Durbin stands by them and this is more than gossip.