Wednesday, September 04, 2013

If Peace Is A Paramount Issue To You, Could You Find Yourself Voting For Republicans In Some Races?


Not afraid to speak truth to power

Igor Volsky and Judd Legum of Think Progress are trying to keep track of who's for bombing Syria and who's opposing it in Congress. And while they're getting a few specifics wrong here and there, theirs is one of the better "whip counts" available to the public right now. "Republicans," they pointed out, "were far more likely to oppose military action in Syria, while Democrats were more likely to support it. The numbers are a contrast to 2002, when Democrats in the House provided 'the bulk of the opposition' to President George W. Bush’s Iraq war resolution... Only six House Republicans voted against the Iraq war in 2002."

As we've pointed out, in 2002 a clear and unambiguous majority of House Democrats (126-81) followed Pelosi to vote against the Iraq War, although many top Democratic leaders, from Dick Gephardt and Steny Hoyer to Steve Israel and Joe Crowley, were very much part of Bush's War Party (which also included tools like Jane Harman, Al Wynn, Tim Holden, Ron Kind, Adam Schiff, Harold Ford, Adam Smith, Eliot Engel, Jim Matheson, most of whom are shrill pro-war voices again today). Soon after the war vote, House Democrats picked Pelosi to replace Gephardt, conspicuously ignoring Steny Hoyer's bid for leadership. Today, with Pelosi on the verge of retirement and already announcing she doesn't want to be Speaker again, House Democrats need to once again realign their leadership with the values of the party's grassroots. ALL the current leaders favor starting a war in Syria.

This could be a catastrophe for Democrats in the midterms if anti-war Republicans face off against pro-war Democrats. Last year a conservative shithead, Steve Pestka (D), was defeated by anti-war stalwart Justin Amash (R) in Michigan's 3rd district (Grand Rapids/Battle Creek), 53-44%. In 2008 Obama had beaten McCain in that traditionally Republican district 50-49%. Amash won 4 of the district's 5 counties, including massive Kent County. A Republican-leaning swing district, MI-03 is never going to vote for a Republican-lite Democrat like Pestka against Amash. But Republican-lite Democrats like Pestka are the only kind of Democrats that DCCC chairman Steve Israel recruits.

New Jersey is an overwhelmingly blue state and no one think right-wing Republican Steve Lonegan has any chance in the Senate race over Cory Booker, a Wall Street-backed conservative celebrity running as a Democrat. Booker, the Paris Hilton of New Jersey politics, has been confused and indecisive on going to war in Syria. First he was against it and almost immediately he changed his mind and was then for it-- or at least for letting President Obama do whatever he wants. New Jersey's senior Senator, Bob Menendez, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is as much a reflexive warmonger as McCain and Graham, even if he keeps it quieter than they do.
Booker remained noncommittal as to whether he supports or opposes military intervention, and did not say how he would vote on the issue as senator, unlike his Republican rival Steve Lonegan, who said Saturday afternoon in a statement that he would cast a vote against the measure.
And that brings us to Rand Paul, the leader of the anti-war Republicans in the Senate. He announced this week that he will be bringing real star power to New Jersey by campaigning for Lonegan. Booker has a massive 28 point lead over Lonegan, who the media has managed to paint as a joke candidate. No one thinks Rand Paul could change the dynamic so drastically that Booker could lose. But what if anti-war Republicans like Paul and Amash start campaigning for Republicans in much tighter races where anti-war Republicans are facing pro-war Democrats, like, for example, in VA-02, where Scott Rigell faces a conservative militarist Steve Israel dug up, Suzanne Patrick? This could be a very interesting new dynamic-- both inside Congress and among American voters. Could on DWT to report on it while other sources are still scratching their heads.

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