Thursday, September 27, 2007



Our survey last night about the Blue America-endorsed candidates who voted in favor of condemning MoveOn generated thousands of responses. Jane, John, Digby and I are still trying to count, analyze, and make sense out of them. I've also been in touch with each of the candidates or their offices and we are trying to arrange for the ones who would like to, to come over to FDL and speak to our communities. The first member to call and ask to come on was Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) and we were close to working it out for this morning but she had to be on the floor of the House. She did send this note along for me to share though:
I understand the anger people feel about the MoveOn vote. Although I think that MoveOn erred and that we should avoid personal attacks in public debate, it was unfortunate that so much attention has been paid to this single ad and not to the much larger issues at play here.
Only a few years ago, political operatives attacked Democratic Senator Max Cleland, a decorated veteran who had lost both legs in service to our country, comparing him to Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. This was a disgusting act yet many of the same people who criticize MoveOn today were silent then.
In 2004, a highly-partisan political hit group attacked Senator John Kerry, questioning his service in Vietnam. Again, the same group was silent.
Since I entered office, I too have been the subject of vicious attacks on my character. I have been called a “cockroach” and likened to Osama bin Laden.
I believe in freedom of speech. But these attacks demean public debate, and they distract us from the real issue-- the President’s tragic war in Iraq.
I am deeply troubled that that we have spent more than two weeks discussing this newspaper ad while the war in Iraq takes second stage. During this period, American troops have been fighting and dying. Innocent Iraqis have been killed and thousands have been forced to leave their homes. The war grinds on without a firm end in sight.
I will continue to work as hard as I can to redeploy our troops from Iraq and to bring this war to an end. I will not give up. There is too much at stake.

Well, I agree with everything she said but it doesn't satisfactorily explain why she voted with the swiftboaters. I know that unlike the Blue America candidates in safe and relatively safe Democratic districts (Hilda Solis, Jerry Nadler, Steve Cohen-- although he is under attack by reactionary Democrats in his district-- and Tom Allen), Carol, like John Hall, Jerry McNerney, and Patrick Murphy, has a really tough swing district with lots and lots of loud Republicans who are taking part in a well-orchestrated letters to the editor campaign.

One of Carol's constituents, someone who has volunteered in his campaigns and a DWT reader, sent me an e-mail today that I want to share:
I'm dismayed at how quick the blogosphere is throwing Carol under the bus. I get why folks are angry. Though I suspect most of this is about disappointment with the overall performance of Congress.

But you asked your readers to consider the MoveOn vote before making their end of quarter contributions and with regard to continuing to support her through Blue America.

Not her opposition to the FISA bill.
Not her support of the McGovern Amendment.
Not her opposition to the IWA blank check.
Not the Amendment she authored in increase Pell grants.
Not hundreds of good progressive bills she has co-sponsored.
Not her 95% rating with progressive punch (in the top 20 and from a Bush
04 district).
Not her bill on Bush's signing statements.
Not the fact that she has said publicly on a number of occasions that she will not support any funding for Iraq without a hard redeployment date.
Not the fact that she has said publicly that the House should continue to send bills to get out of Iraq over and over again to the Senate and the President and not cave on these appropriations.

The timing and framing of the survey make the result a foregone conclusion. But let's not pretend she hasn't been there for progressives when it really matters. So support us, don't support us, but give me a break with this disingenuous "spineless" or "bush lite" narrative. That is just patently false and you know it.

The language in the resolution wasn't too far off statements Carol has made publicly. She doesn't like personal attacks against members of the Armed Forces. Maybe it is the time she spent at Fitzsimmons with the maimed vets during Vietnam, or maybe just out of her basic sense of decency. She has never liked those kind of attacks, not when it was Cleland not when it was Kerry and not now. She has repeatedly called for a less personal and more rational tone in the debate on the war and she has plenty of personal experience having the attacks slung at her-- the Republicans up here have taken to calling her a cockroach in the letters to the editor.

I don't expect that sentiment to go over all that well on the internets but that is how she feels about public policy debate. And she won 2 upset elections without making any personal attacks but by kicking her opponents asses on the issues. When you can make a better argument you don't have to
resort to the personal stuff.

If the netroots are looking for a meaner Democrat in NH's first district then they probably should look elsewhere. But good luck finding a stronger and smarter progressive voice than Carol. Don't be confused by the fact that the netroots apparently doesn't really have her back-- Carol has
plenty of spine.

Chris and Matt over at Open Left have demonstrated how committed MoveOn and the netroots have been to helping elect Democrats to Congress. Is it too much to expect those congressmen and women to have the spine to stand up and defend them from the swiftboaters when the Republicans start ginning up the hatred?

A couple nights ago I went to dinner with another one of our candidates, Jon Powers (NY-26), an Iraq vet with a very different view on this whole MoveOn matter.
Congress has once again demonstrated how out of touch they are with
the rest of us.

We are currently engaged in the third longest war in our nation's history, a war characterized from its beginning by a lack of planning, unparalleled incompetence, and a continued lack of leadership from this Administration and their allies.

The number of men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice during this war is quickly approaching 4,000, and tens of thousands of American soldiers have had their minds and bodies scarred for life.

Despite all of this, we STILL have no plan to bring our troops home or bring lasting stability to an increasingly hostile Iraq.

Yesterday, those loyal to the Bush Administration forced the U.S. House of Representatives to take time out of their schedule to vote on a resolution condemning an advertisement in a newspaper. This was Congress' third such vote on this issue in the last week.

While our Representatives take the time to debate a partisan newspaper advertisement, no one is debating how to hold the Bush Administration accountable for its reckless course in Iraq. No one is debating how to better train our soldiers and provide them with the equipment they need to keep safe. No one is debating how we can best address the needs of our veterans when they return home.

As someone who served in this war, I find the politicization of any man or woman who wears a military uniform unacceptable. Questioning the motives or allegiances of soldiers who are duty-bound to carry out their military mission is giving in to the worst of our impulses.

While I reject the content of this controversial advertisement, I will always remain proud to have worn the uniform of those charged with protecting the right of free speech behind it, and find it totally unacceptable that we have Representatives in Congress who would use this issue for political gain.

The men and women who serve in our military are soldiers, not political pawns. It is absolutely unconscionable with all that is going on in the world that our Congress would take the time to cast
three separate votes on this issue. There are far too many REAL issues to debate.

The 110th Congress has the fewest number of veterans of any Congress in recent history. Perhaps if there were more veterans representing us in Washington, Congress would not be losing focus on the REAL issues. Moments like this make clear how critical it is that we support veteran candidates who could bring true experience and perspective to debates such as this.

Although not all veterans share identical views on this war, I have no doubt they would all agree that the perspective of those that have served is dearly missed in Washington, and I know in my heart that our troops overseas would share this sentiment.

Americans want leaders who will debate the REAL issues, not waste time arguing over partisan newspaper advertisements.

We're still countin' the votes and if you haven't voted yet, there's still time. And there's still time to thank the candidates like Jon Powers, Rick Noriega, and John Laesch and the incumbents who voted to tell the Republicans and the Rahm Emanuels and Steny Hoyers to shove this divisive anti-American crap up their Insider posteriors. It's the end of the quarter. We need to elect more AND BETTER Democrats.

I wonder how the Democrats who joined with the Republicans yesterday to eviscerate MoveOn, will react to Rush Limabugh calling active duty, front line military (like Jon Powers) "phony soldiers." I know how the Republicans in Congress will react; they'll close ranks behind their base-- guaranteed. But what about Rahm Emanuel and Steny Hoyer? Where are those big patriots all of a sudden? Are they hiding behind Nancy's tattered skirts today?

"Someone should tell chicken-hawk Rush Limbaugh that the only phonies are those who choose not to serve and then criticize those who do. I served proudly, so did two of my fellow paratroopers in the 82nd Airborne who spoke out and died just weeks ago. Generations of American veterans have worn the uniform with pride and we know it is no contradiction to serve your country and still disagree with the Bush-civilian leadership that mismanaged this war."

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At 2:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shea-Porter whines about all the bad things she DIDN'T do; I don't care. She does not deserve my vote or my money.

I appreciate the service Blue America provides (despite a few recent blunders) in vetting candidates. But iff this is the kind of candidate Blue America will support, I'll make all my contributions individually.

At 2:25 PM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

There are no dues and no one should donate to any candidate they don't like. We have live sessions with the candidates every Saturday at 11am, PT at Firedoglake. If you don't like Carol or you disagree with her, by all means, don't donate to her. I have a feeling you will find other candidates or incumbents on our list who you will find better suited to your own ideas of the kind of representation you want.

Right now I've been urging people to donate to the campaigns of the 4 Democratic incumbents on the list who voted against the MoveOn condemnation: Steve Cohen, Jerry Nadler, Hilda Solis, and Tom Allen.

And by the way, there are no perfect candidates for everyone-- except yourself.

At 2:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My view is it was playing into the hands of the Repugs to cast a vote to condemn the ad. They have started down a very slippery slope in terms of free speech. It seems to me that it would have been much wiser to stand the moral high ground and say "while I personally did not like this ad, or other attacks from either side that have this tone, it is not my role as a congress person to condemn free speech in this country, however uncomfortable I may sometimes find it personally."

Hey, those of against the war have been routinely accused of being traitors for not "supporting" it, and I a fed up with that rhetoric. Course congress never bothered to address this. That they have the time to condemn the moveon ad, time that needed to be better spend, is insulting. And, it sets a very dangerous precedent.


At 2:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

and, a p.s. to "me"

Howie does a tremendous amount of work in researching good progressive candidates and bringing them to our attention- with the kind of knowledge and insight that neither I nor most other individuals would possibly have the time to accrue.

But, really, it is left up to each person to decide who, and what candidates they choose to give $$ to. Time to accept that personal responsiblity, "me".

Read the BA chats, ask questions in the BA chats. Research the candidate. Make your own choice, and take responsibility for it.

Caveat emptor. Don't blame Howie.


At 3:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally, I think MOVEON has slipped behind the times. They have no blog, their website is primitive at best, and it's hard to tell what they are about at any given moment. DWT and DK are far more advanced.

I would not have condemned the MoveOn ad, but I think they could have done a better job spending all that money.

Anytime you insult a general, or any member of the services, you are going to get a backlash. And not just by members of the Republican Crime Family. IMHO, Petraeus was just doing his job and looking out for his career. We really shouldn't expect any more or less. MoveOn could have produced a more effective add without going the way they did. I think it was thoughtless, in that a much more powerful and effective ad could have been devised.

What did the ad really accomplish? That's the question for MoveOn members to ask themselves.

At 3:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems you are getting a large number of votes relative to the number of people I see at FDL during the meet and greets (and donates).

I noticed myself when the vote link was posted at FDL that many of the most harsh comments were coming from people I never see during the live sessions.

So there is that to consider when tabulating the results. In my case, I voted to have all four come on FDL to talk about their votes, because I think that having those converstations is the best way to get the results we want.

We can get better Democrats by electing them, and perhaps also by persuading them.

At 3:42 PM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

Ifthethunderdon'tgetya, your own opinion seems to be what a lot of people are saying in the survey. Results are still coming in but scanning them I'm seeling hundreds and hundreds like yours-- as well as plenty from people with a much harsher perspective. I'm gratified that the candidates or their staffers have been reading the comments here, at Firedoglake and at Crooks & Liars.

At 3:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry if I gave the impression that I'm not appreciative of the work you do in this regard. I am!!

At 4:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

and, a niggle:

Howie, you say "to come over to FDL and speak to our communities."

I would add: "to come over to FDL and LISTEN to our communities.

The Shea-Porter statement says:
"I understand the anger people feel about the MoveOn vote."

At this point, I am not willing to take it at face value that ANY candidate "understands the anger", just because they say so.

Frankly, I think any such conversation has to start with a more open mind on the part of the candidate/ guest. As in, "I have my views as why people are so angry about the MoveOne, but I would like to hear your views on this."

If that is not the set up from the get go, then we have the serious possibility that a candidate will come in with canned talking points by way of explanation, and not really LISTEN. That has happened before, alas.


At 4:35 PM, Blogger Jimmy the Saint said...

Are you tossing votes that don't give legit email addresses? Is there a way for it to be a good count with out being too much of a hassle?

At 7:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe that the Constitution makes it quite clear that Congress will make no law concerning free speech.

Their condemnation of the MoveOn ad provides, at best, a chilling effect on public free speech while demonstrating their ignorance of the very item, the Constitution, they are sworn to uphold.

At 10:01 AM, Blogger Chris Andersen said...

If Cong. Porter doesn't like the MoveOn ad then she is free to criticize it. But it is not the job of Congress to condemn expressions of speech. She could have abstained.

At 10:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carol Shea-Porter bemoans the fact that the move-on ad got more attention than Iraq, but she doesn't see that the move-on Manufactured Outrage (MO) was designed by the repugs to be a diversionary tactic? By cluelessly following their lead, she contributed to the diversion, helped Bush, and alienated her base. This issue is not about a difference of opinion. It demonstrates whether dems in Congress understand the transparently manipulative tactics of the repugs and are willing to stand against them. The repugs don't have facts, accountability, fiscal responsibility, or respect for the rule of law to save their sorry hides. Their options for success are limited to perfectly played Manufactured Outrages (diversion) and "bipartisanship" (capitulation). They rely on the cooperation of dems to accomplish both.

Ms. Shea-Porter, the move-on MO was the 8,697th time that the dems have fallen for the "civil discourse" fake out. ENOUGH!! Whether caused by cowardice, stupidity, or gullibility, the "sucker"ization of the democratic party has got to stop. We can expect more of the same repug tricks for the next thirteen months, and desperation will only make them more vicious. Democrats in Congress have to wise up and stand up. Never again cast a vote which would have made Joe McCarthy proud.

At 12:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carol Shea-Porter's supporter who is dismayed at the blogosphere's reaction should keep in mind that people are angry because Shea-Porter has been such an inspiration to the netroots. My jaw dropped when I saw her name on the list of 'ayes.' Most names were those of the usual suspects, people for whom I have low expectations--and they rarely disappoint me. In contrast, I have very high expectations for Carol Shea-Porter because she has been an exceptional representative of progressive America. I'm not ready to write her off, not at all, but the issue was not personal attacks in the political arena. That was the smokescreen. The issue was freedom of speech. Unfortunately Shea-Porter was on the wrong side of this vote, and it is a difficult thing to accept.


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