Folks, they've done it again. The Repugs have distracted us and divided us with the MoveOn flap. We are beating up our own for their votes on this ad, while ignoring their many good votes, and letting the Repugs off the hook for their ongoing rubberstamping of the lamest-duck and most congenitally inept and immoral president in our history as he barrels us beyond the quagmire and into the abyss of Iran.
I contribute to MoveOn and gave them money for that ad, but I didn't know they were using the sophomoric Betray-us bit. I think it was a strategic blunder to do the personal attack. It's given raw meat to the Repug pitbulls to chew on well into 2008. I don't care if it filled MoveOn's coffers -- that money won't do anyone any good if candidates running in close races in swing districts, or even in moderate districts (which, frankly, the mushy middle is where most Americans reside) can't take MoveOn money without being accused of calling "a brave general" a traitor. I supported the ad because I was thrilled that MoveOn was refuting the "facts" that Petraeus was putting forth. MoveOn does a lot of good things and thank god some one is out there to do it, but I do think this was a blunder.
Now, let's talk about beating up the Dems who voted for the assine bills in the house and senate to "condemn" the ad. Gimme a break. With all going on in the world which deserves condemnation, this is what they come up with? But anyway . . .
First, huzzah to my congressman Keith Ellison for voting against it. But Keith represents the strongly Democratic urban 5th district, which, unless he's caught toe-tapping in the men's room -- nah, this is the 5th district, so it would have to be more like selling his daughter to the sex trade, is his for life. Still, it's gratifying to have his voice there, free to say what many of us are feeling. Small comfort.
So Amy Klobuchar is the one taking most of the flak for voting in favor of the execrable bill. I've been slow to take shots at Sen. K as many of you know, but this one got to me. So I started to make a stink. Couldn't she have at least taken the abstension route? Not vote on the grounds that it was trivial and inappropriate to waste valuable time on such a thing? I started to dig around, ask questions.
Here are some conclusions, like 'em or not.
First, the abstension. I'm starting to think that's a weasly way out. If you say you're not going to vote on a bill because it's frivolous, well, that'd apply to an awful lot of the bills in congress. We elect our representatives to vote, not to abstain. And some of the time they're going to vote in ways we don't like and they're going to have to defend that vote. You can't just call a time-out when you don't like the action.
As for that thing about the mushy middle? It's true. The other day I ranted to a lefty friend about this vote, a friend who ran on a very progressive ticket for a state wide office a few years back -- and lost. "How could she do this?" I fumed. "Read David Brooks today," he said. Erp. What?? This guy's pointing to Brooks for the answer?
In that day's column Brooks wrote that most of us on the left are out of touch with the middle -- the folks who don't like Bush, don't like the war, those who are being squeezed financially and worry about healthcare, their kids and so on. My friend says these are the people he spoke with as he traveled the state, and they don't much like politics, especially when they drift to the far right or far left. Mushy middle, sure, but not bad people. I think they changed him more than he changed them. And, for better or worse, that's where most people are.
So let's look at some of Amy's other votes around the time of the MoveOn vote.
On the Feingold Amendment to require most troops in Iraq to begin to be redeployed beginning in 90 days, she was one of just 28 Senators voting in favor. It would also end funding for troop deployment to Iraq after June 30, 2008. It was a strong, anti-war vote that went virtually unnoticed. Norm Coleman, you'll be surprised to learn, was not one of the 28.
She also voted for the Reed-Levin amendment. This one was 47-47 (Norm, surprise, was on the opposite side). Reed-Levin would have required troops to be withdrawn beginning in 90 days and all troops out within 9 months (but did not formally cut off funding). Amy also voted for the Specter Amendment restoring habeas corpus; Norm and most of the Republicans voted against. It failed 56-43.
As for the up-chuck vote on MoveOn, she had said earlier that she thought the ad was off-target, as I did. Petraeus's facts should have been disputed, name-calling should have been avoided. I know, the Repugs would have found something else to yelp about, but we, or I at least, could have had an easier time defending it. And, small point, but I believe she criticized the ad, not MoveOn.
She also voted for the Boxer Amendment (which Norm did not) that condemned the ads taken out by Swift Boaters against Kerry, Max Cleland, etc. Shouldn't we be directing our fury at Coleman and the Repugs who will condemn an ad that insults Petraeus, but not the ones that smeared Kerry and Cleland? We take the distraction bait every time.
And yesterday Amy was one of 22 who voted against the “sense of the Senate” measure on Iran, which one could argue would give the Bush Administration the green light for military action against Iran. It was a wide spectrum of Senators who voted against – from Boxer all the way to Lugar and Hagel, with Webb and Tester in between – but again a clear, anti-war vote.
So, instead of bashing Amy for a vote we don't like, shouldn't we give her at least a bit of credit for the ones we do? Shouldn't we stop blasting those who vote with us 95% of the time and save our -- um, fire for those who consistently vote the little miscreant's every wish?
Progressives alone did not elect Amy Klobuchar -- many in the mushy middle did their part as well. But we carry on like prima donnas -- or jack asses -- when she doesn't vote just as we hoped. Yeah, we need to keep speaking up and pushing for our views, but we're also going to have to learn to get along with the mushy middle, or continue to lose elections.
Speaking of elections, and Hillary, (was I?) anyone see Mr. Hillary on CNN the other night? Someone sent me this clip of him blasting the congress for the hypocrisy of the MoveOn vote. It's Bill at his best. When he's like this I start to warm to the idea of him as the first lady. And yeah, it's what I wish Amy had done. But I'm not in high dudgeon anymore that she didn't. More like low dudgeon.