SHERROD BROWN COMES CLEAN AND PROMISES TO MAKE AMENDS FOR HIS VOTE ON THE TORTURE BILL
The first time I spoke with Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) I thought he was the most awesome congressman I had met since I started doing the Blue America interviews. He was running for the Senate and I couldn't wait to contribute money to his campaign and to convince others to do likewise. Most politicians don't let you down until after they've been elected (see Chris Carney). In Rep. Brown's case it only took 6 weeks. Of course he was in an awkward situation-- an elected official (a congressman) who had to vote one way or the other on a controversial bill in the middle of a campaign for another office. Unfortunately, he voted with the Republicans and against basic Democratic values and ideals and against basic American principles. He voted for torture and against habeas corpus; he voted to rubber stamp Bush's fascist proclivities. We immediately kicked him off our Blue America page, the only person ever endorsed who was subjected to that ignominy.
He was one of only 34 Democrats who voted with the Republicans-- and he was the only progressive to do so. The torture bill passed 253-186. Only 7 Republicans stood up for America that day (including a Republican from Ohio, Steven LaTourette). And the Democrats who Brown joined on that day? All the regular suspects who almost always vote with the Republicans when it really matters: Dan Boren (OK), Harold Ford (TN, defeated at the polls and now chair of the reactionary DLC), Leonard Boswell (IA), Gene Taylor (MS), Henry Cuellar (TX), Mike McIntyre (NC), Melissa Bean (IL), Georgia's 3 reactionary fake-Dems (Jim Marshall, John Barrow and David Scott), Collin Peterson (MN), Mike Ross (AR), Charlie Melancon (LA), John Tanner (TN), Tim Holden (PA), Bud Cramer (AL), Allen Boyd (FL)... you know the shameful list of Blue Dogs and neo-Confederate trash-- a list you would never, never, never expect to see Sherrod Brown's name attached to.
Now that the Democrats have won control of both houses of Congress-- including Brown switching from the House to the Senate, replacing Mike DeWine who, like him, voted to trash the Constitution on September 28, 2006, just a few weeks before the election)-- we've all been waiting for the clean up of Bush's mess to get seriously under way. I've been urging Democrats to eradicate the stain against our democracy by getting rid of that torture bill and by reinstating habeas corpus. And I've wondered if Brown was too small a man to admit he had done something tragically wrong.
The answer came today in an e-mail from my friend Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks. Cenk interviewed Brown today-- and Brown admitted he had made a serious mistake:
Cenk Uygur: Thanks for joining us Senator. We appreciate it. I gotta start off with the question we've had now for over six months, I gotta ask you, why did you vote for the Military Commissions Act?
Senator Brown: It was a bad vote. I shouldn't have.
Cenk Uygur: Oh, wow. Okay.
Senator Brown: A vote I'll correct ... when it comes.
Cenk Uygur: So, you regret that?
Senator Brown: I take responsibility. It was the heat of the campaign and I made a mistake.
Cenk Uygur: So, if it comes again you're going to change the vote?
Senator Brown: You bet.
Notice Senator Brown does a thing only Democrats do and that Republicans never do. He admitted he had done wrong and he took responsibility for what he did. He didn't blame everyone else. It's been 9 months. I'll look forward to him making good on the promise he made to Cenk-- and to America-- today. (And, by the way, so far he's had a spectacular voting record in the Senate, even better than Bernie Sanders'!)