Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Sad Saga Of Tom Perriello, A Confused And Dishonest Man, Lost In A Political Nightmare He's Spiritually Unprepared To Navigate



This morning I got an e-mail from Tom Perriello's re-election campaign. Blue America endorsed him in 2008 after he assured us-- several times, in writing and on tape-- that, if elected, we could count on him to be a pro-choice congressman. He was elected, and one week ago he voted for the horrific Stupak-Pitts anti-choice amendment to the health care bill. I wrote him a letter; he didn't respond. Instead I got this from his campaign finance director:
Tom's political opponents have sunk to a shocking new low.

Yesterday they announced they will actually burn Congressman Perriello in effigy. This clear departure from the bounds of decent political discourse is beyond the pale.

The skyrocketing cost of health care is bankrupting our families, our small businesses and our government. Last Saturday, Tom Perriello voted to take common sense steps to curtail the rising cost of health care, because fixing the broken system is too important to delay any longer. We knew the opposition would be vocal, but we never thought it would come to this.

We need to raise $8,000 by Tuesday night for our Rapid Response Fund. Please click here to give $25, $50, or even $100 today!

Congressman Perriello has never shied away from discussion with anyone-- whether they agree or disagree-- who wants to be a partner in finding solutions to the problems we face. He has even met with his foes repeatedly to listen to their concerns. Yesterday our opponents made it clear that they have little interest in problem solving. Don't let the underhanded attacks and inflammatory rhetoric distract from our fight for affordable health care.

The attacks are coming fast and furious. The low tactics and false arguments used by opponents to health care reform only reinforce the reasons most people in the 5th District are supporting Tom Perriello for his vote.

Help us fight back against the misinformation and political smears! We need to raise $8,000 by Tuesday night for our Rapid Response Fund. Can you contribute $25, $50, or even $100 today to help us reach our goal?

...Together, we can speak the truth and bring about the change we so desperately need.

Speak the truth? I'd never believe another word that Tom Perriello uttered. When he first solicited an endorsement from Blue America, we were very wary because it had been pointed out that he opposed women's right to Choice. He insisted his position had been misrepresented. He kept calling and calling and then visited my house. On February 27, 2008, Tom did a guest post here at DWT and he addressed concerns about Choice head-on:
Confusion ...[about] my position on abortion may stem either from my public association with Catholicism as co-founder of the progressive Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good or from being badly misquoted in a New York Times article following the 2004 election. I firmly believe that abortion should not be criminalized, nor can we allow any action that seeks to coerce women by reducing access to care or making the process less safe.

The emphasis is mine. But that is exactly what Stupak-Pitts does, and quite intentionally, as Perriello well knows.

Perriello is in a very tough district, and he beat one the House's most notoriously corrupt incumbents 158,810-158,083, one of the closest congressional races in a decade. Mark Warner's coattails certainly helped drag him into office-- not to mention the tremendous support he had from grassroots and netroots activists taken in by his ability to portray himself as a progressive on key issues. He's turned out to be another political coward with a wretched 39.22 ProgressivePunch score on substantive issues, nestled comfortably between arch-reactionaries Brad Ellsworth and Health Shuler. In fact, many of the worst and most extreme Blue Dogs in the Congress have better voting records than Perriello: Heath Shuler (NC), Chris Carney (PA), Harry Mitchell (AZ), Dan Boren (OK), Gene Taylor (MS), Collin Peterson (MN), Jim Mashall (GA) and even John Barrow (GA). When Perriello gets burned in effigy by the teabaggers he tried to please by throwing women under the bus, he'll have to look elsewhere for sympathy and support.

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At 6:10 PM, Blogger TeddyPartridge said...

Wow, what a shocking disappointment, I had such high hopes for him turning central VA blue.

Thank you, as always, for telling it true, Howie.

At 6:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since when does the right to get an abortion include a right to make someone else pay for it?

The guy's doing what he can to help pass your unconstitutional debacle that will complete the destruction of the health care system in the USA. Give him a break, he's as pinko as you are.

At 6:49 PM, Blogger ohnooooo! said...

As a WOMAN, who obviously knows a little more about a woman's body than Anonymous, I can say that many times an abortion is necessary to insure the life of the woman. I was one. So get over yourself MR A.

At 7:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, it's no skin off my nose if you get an abortion, but you're no more entitled to make someone else pay for it than you are to make someone clean your house for you or pick your cotton.

It's all about FREEDOM, and when you seize the fruits of someone else's labor, you're enslaving them.

At 9:13 PM, Anonymous Ida Jurie said...

Dear Anonymous.
Thank you for your inspiration. Your point about not wanting your money to go for someone else's medical care is well taken. Henceforth, I will vehemently protest my tax dollars going for other people's Interstate Highways, other people's police needs, other people's fire departments, other people's FAA, other people's Food & Drug Administration, other people's FDIC, other people's homeland security, and, other people's wars.
I will no longer drive on Interstates, I will work tirelessly to disband all of the federal agencies that we all benefit from, whether it is protecting our food or making the skies safe for travel. When I walk past your house and it is burning, I will not call the fire department. When I see one of your family members threatened by a criminal, I will not call the police, and I will not intervene in anyway because I will believe that such things are strictly up to individuals accepting personal responsibility.

At 9:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are so sickeningly hopeless on this issue. You are talking about the ONLY freshman Democrat from a McCain district to vote for both health care reform and cap and trade and you're holding Stupak against him? Why don't you just blow your wad of cash on someone like Bill Foster who attacked cap and trade? The memory of the progressive blogosphere is less than a goldfish. Perriello represents not just a Republican district but a strongly socially conservative district where even the Democratic-leaning white working class voters and African-Americans are torn on issues of choice. Nevermind the fact that you are completely and totally distorting the reality of Stupak and the reality of the status quo. Both suck for women. But the pro-choice movement doesn't want to rock the boat with the status quo because they know the majority of public opinion isn't with them. Tom Perriello is being burnt in effigy for his support of the Democratic Party and you are being a self righteous asshole.

At 10:02 AM, Blogger Bruce said...

"The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v Wade and a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right."
It looks to me that not only did Tom Perriello (and others like "Stupe" Stupak) go back on his word and his pledge, but he has given the finger to his own party's platform. Or, does he think the 'D' next to his tarnished name stands for DISINGENUOUS?

At 10:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Compare the rhetoric of the platform with the reality of politics. The status quo is that there is no federal funding of abortion. Period. That means no federal funding of abortions through Medicaid, which does far more to deny access to abortions for poor women than any restrictions on the exchange. What has Obama done to change this? Nothing. If Tom Perriello's Confused and Dishonest, what does that make Obama? A failure.

At 10:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ida Jurie -- try reading our Constitution--ya the one that wwe have had for the past couple hundred years--it clearly specifies what the giov't job is--there's nothing in there about me paying for your aboration!!

At 11:21 AM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

Anonymous at 9:02 AM. Did you read the post? Perriello is being singled out for lying, blatantly, not for his vote per se. Maybe I need to do another post and make that clearer. Stay tuned and I'll make the tapes of him talking about how he'd protect a woman's right to choice into a YouTube.

At 11:38 AM, Anonymous Darren said...

I personally lean to the left on most issues, and did vote for Perriello. But I can clearly see why he voted for the stupak amendment: to give him cover in an arguably conservative district. I'm glad he took the courageous step to vote for the final bill as well. Maybe he knows that the final bill will not have the stupak amendment. I hope Rep. Perriello is re-elected, because I would take him over some crazy wingnut anyday.

At 12:40 PM, Blogger James Young said...

By your reasoning, a Congressman would have to support public funding of newspapers to support freedom of the press.

It's a nonsensical position. You're confusing "pro-choice" with "pro-abortion." Or revealing "pro-choice" for what it really is.

At 1:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm as pro-choice as anyone, but this fury over Stupak is absurd. First of all, it hardly changes the status quo AT ALL! Saying Perriello is anti-choice because he voted for Stupak is so intellectually dishonest. The House was trying to go against the Hyde Amendment in the original bill. Leadership ignored the fact that Representatives from more conservative districts had been promising their constituents that this bill wouldn't change the status quo on abortion. People like Perriello were backed into a corner.
Additionally, compared to all of the other problems involving reproductive freedom in this country Stupak is not a big deal at all. As I said, it hardly changes the status quo. Also, a tiny, tiny percentage of abortions in this country are done through private insurance. Most people used Planned Parenthood etc. Many abortion providers refuse to accept private insurance because it's such a hassle. Finally, I think this anger of Stupak is because the pro-choice movement is unhappy with how much they have failed as a movement. There are so few abortion providers in this country that even if Stupak/Hyde didn't exist many women wouldn't have access to abortion anyways because there is no one providing abortions in many states. The pro-choice movement has failed to make contraception available to poor women and most of all the pro-choice movement has failed to explain why abortion is important in a way that resonates with the American people. I think this frustration is the only explanation for such an exaggerated response to Stupak, which while no means good, is honestly not that different from what we already have. It will especially not be that bad because it will get watered down in conference. So everyone take a deep breath. Congressman Perriello is by far the most courageous member of the House so give him a freaking break.

At 2:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

James provides the best quote ever, "By your reasoning, a Congressman would have to support public funding of newspapers to support freedom of the press."

If you are upset that Perriello lied to you by telling you he was pro-choice and then voting against federal funding of abortions, I should be upset with you for defining "pro-choice" in such a way that will guarantee that it will be a minority position for decades to come. You have destroyed a woman's right to choose.

At 3:28 PM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

I linked to this piece by Jessica Arons above. But since most of the anonymous, most likely male, Perriello defenders have apparently not bothered to click through and read it, let me pull a piece out for you all:

The claim that it only bars federal funding for abortions is simply false. Here’s what the Stupak Amendment does:

1. It effectively bans coverage for most abortions from all public and private health plans in the Exchange: In addition to prohibiting direct government funding for abortion, it also prohibits public money from being spent on any plan that covers abortion even if paid for entirely with private premiums. Therefore, no plan that covers abortion services can operate in the Exchange unless its subscribers can afford to pay 100% of their premiums with no assistance from government “affordability credits.” As the vast majority of Americans in the Exchange will need to use some of these credits, it is highly unlikely any plan will want to offer abortion coverage (unless they decide to use it as a convenient proxy to discriminate against low- and moderate-income Americans who tend to have more health care needs and incur higher costs).

2. It includes only extremely narrow exceptions: Plans in the Exchange can only cover abortions in the case of rape or incest or “where a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would, as certified by a physician, place the woman in danger of death.” Given insurance companies’ dexterity in denying claims, we can predict what they’ll do with that language. Cases that are excluded: where the health but not the life of the woman is threatened by the pregnancy, severe fetal abnormalities, mental illness or anguish that will lead to suicide or self-harm, and the numerous other reasons women need to have an abortion.

3. It allows for a useless abortion “rider”: Stupak and his allies claim his Amendment doesn’t ban abortion from the Exchange because it allows plans to offer and women to purchase extra, stand-alone insurance known as a rider to cover abortion services. Hopefully the irony of this is immediately apparent: Stupak wants women to plan for a completely unexpected event.

4. It allows for discrimination against abortion providers: Previously, the health care bill included an evenhanded provision that prohibited discrimination against any health care provider or facility “because of its willingness or unwillingness to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.” Now, it only protects those who are unwilling to provide such services.
One in three women will have an abortion in their lifetime. Eighty-seven percent of employer plans offer abortion coverage. None of that will matter if the Senate takes its cues from the House. In every other way, this bill will expand access to health care. But for millions of women, they are about to lose coverage they currently have and often need.

At 5:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess you would rather have NO health care reform bill than to have one that is flawed?

I was listening to Tom as he worked through his beliefs on abortion and choice. He has never said that he is pro-abortion. He has always said that he is pro-choice. He has said that he will oppose efforts to "coerce" women to keep them from having an abortion. It would be the biggest semantic stretch in the world to argue that it is "coercion" for me to refuse to pay for something that you want to do for free.

The issue of the circumstances under which government should pay for a woman's abortion has long been one of the most difficult moral issues for those who are opposed to abortion, but who believe that the decision is that of the woman with her doctor, not of a legislature.

I have been paying attention to Tom's statements on abortion since before the February statement that you cite. He hasn't lied about anything.

The Stupak Amendment was a VERY tough political decision, for Nancy Pelosi and everyone else who wanted to get a health care bill but who knew that they would not get to 218 votes without some additional movement on abortion. Jim Clyburn was on television as late as Friday night (Keith Olbermann's or Rachel Maddow's show), saying that they didn't have 218 votes. Clyburn was counting furiously -- he knew that he could get at least 10 more votes if the Stupak Amendment was in there. So if Stupak failed, we probably would still not have a health reform bill.

Would that have made you happy?

At 8:34 PM, Blogger James Young said...

Anon 2:51 --- Please don't confuse me with a Perriello supporter; he's a shallow, overprivileged lightweight who wouldn't get elected dogcatcher in any normal political year. He only managed to get this one right on the "stopped clock" theory.

In any case, funding most abortions --- the exception is when it is defense of the life of the mother --- through health insurance is akin to funding facelifts through health insurance. I suppose you can, but don't even bother to try to convince any rational, thinking human being that it's about necessary treatment. It's wholly elective, and doesn't merit discussion even if one accepts the fatally flawed premise that the government can have any constitutinoally-legitimate role in health care.

At 5:11 AM, Anonymous kelley in virginia said...

From 2008 until Sept 30, 2009, Perriello has accepted $8,000 from Cong. Debbie Wasserman Schultz who said that abortion funding would certainly be in the final Healthcare bill.

do Perriello supporters want to hope that he really is in the pro-life crowd by his association with others that are or do they judge him by his votes?

Robert Hurt for Congress

At 6:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not in favor of the Stupak Am. by any means, but I don't quite understand the furor, at least not by anyone who is in favor of health care reform, which, of necessity and consistent with historical precedent, must come through incremental change.

The fact is, the Stupak Am. will not decrease access to abortion. Currently, only about 13% of abortions are paid for by private insurance. The average cost of an abortion is $300 to $500. I'm guessing that the 13% of people who used private insurance are relatively well-off, and able to afford the $500 it would cost them if their insurance didn't cover it. The bigger problem is the 40 million people without health insurance who have limited access not only to abortions, but to primary care!

The Stupak Am. just doesn't have much of an impact on the status quo, other than allowing the passage of health care legislation that will expand coverage to millions of poor and middle class people. (It goes without saying, though it sometimes appears to be lost in the shuffle here, that the Stupak Am. does nothing to criminalize abortions or compromise their legality. Perriello vowed to keep abortions legal and not to impinge access to them. I think he's acted consistently with that promise.)

At 12:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a woman and I am disappointed with Perriello's vote. But I will still support him when he runs for re-election as long as he votes for the final bill without the Stupak language.

At 7:54 AM, Anonymous TeddyG said...

The Abortion Question should be
removed from politics. It does not belong there, and we are one of the few countries in the world which treats abortion as a political question. I am most appalled at the arrogance of the Catholic bishops for sticking their nose into this question and actively engaging in politics. The tax-exemption of the Church should be ended immediately.

At 4:16 PM, Blogger Max said...


Did you just call Perriello a liar? Slow your roll there, Joe Wilson. His Stupak vote is the *only* way he could have voted and had any hopes of holding his seat, but it's also consistent with what I know about his personal beliefs. So spare us the sanctimonious outrage.

Here's a guy who voted for cap and trade, the stimulus, and the final health care bill, and who has taken enormous flak from the right for all of those things. I live in his district, and I worked hard to help get him elected. Not voting for Stupak would be political suicide. For you to blast him like this and put him in the same category as the blue dogs is nonsensical and self-destructive.

No, Stupak is not a perfect amendment. But if you're willing to throw Tom under the bus because he doesn't pass all your personal litmus tests, then get ready for a reactionary anti-choice Republican to take his place.

At 9:16 PM, Anonymous 5th dist conservative said...

It is my opinion that Congressman Perriello is a bought and paid for strait party hack. He won with a lowley .42% margin of victory.
I commend him for his taking a great deal of time meeting with his constituants in town hall settings. But it has been lip service, at best.
The only thing you can trust with the Congressman, is that he will vote the party line. He is a Harvard flaming Lib. Plain and simple.

At 9:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It amazes me that when folks speak about aborting a child, it has been reduced to sounding as if you were pulling out a tooth, or removing a splinter from your foot.

At 6:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a long time political activist for progressive causes, I am dismayed at the tendency of some of my fellow/sister progressives to abandon candidates because they were not completely ideologically pure, thus allowing reactionaries to win the election. Yes, I have fought for freedom of choice for many years, but let us remember that if we continue along this path, we may return to the horrors of pre-Rowe. Remember the bad old days of back alley abortions. Glenda

At 10:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's it?

Man, I thought you were going to write that he bombed an abortion clinic back in the 1990s or something.


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