Senator Dick Durbin appeared on local Chicago television last night for a town-hall forum on health care — and wound up looking completely ignorant of the debate. Two constituents wanted to know whether Durbin supported the individual mandates contained in HR3200, and Durbin pleaded ignorance. Worse, when asked whether he would oppose individual mandates in a Senate bill, Durbin refused to provide an answer:

It’s a darned good thing this didn’t get rushed through Congress, like Barack Obama and the Democratic leadership in both chambers of Congress wanted, isn’t it? After six months, Durbin can’t even declare his position on one of the biggest issues within the debate. He’s the #2 person in the Senate Democratic caucus, and he acts as though he’s never heard of an individual mandate.

In a way, though, Durbin did give his answer. He has no problem with them. Durbin just needs to see how they’re written into the bill to give his approval. If he had a problem with mandates, he would reject the idea out of hand — which is exactly what he should have done here.

The questioner, by the way, does an excellent job of shooting down the car-insurance argument. Mandates for car insurance are linked to car registration and licensing drivers by the states, both of which are voluntary choices by citizens to use public roads. A federal mandate for health insurance is something else entirely, and the constituent does a good job of explaining that.

Tags: Barack Obama