The NY Times has just published its primary coronation article crowning Maria Cantwell as the winner of the Democratic primary for U.S. senate. And the primary hasn’t even happened yet. Of course, they are right. Cantwell will win in a landslide. But I will not be sliding with her.
I like Maria Cantwell as a senator. But I cannot abide her support of the Iraq war. I cannot abide her continuing shilly-shallying on the issue of ending the war. Just after Ned Lamont beat Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut primary, Cantwell must’ve had a vision of her own political mortality. That’s when she released a “clarification” of her position:
Six days after that [Lamont’s victory], she released a statement on her campaign blog about her initial vote in favor of authorizing the war in Iraq: “If I knew then everything that I know today and the Republican leadership still brought it up for a vote, I would have voted no.”
To me, the logical response to Cantwell is: “you’re a highly intelligent person, why didn’t you know this then? I knew it. Hundreds of thousands of your constituents warned you against the vote you eventually made. You can’t say you didn’t know. You knew and took a calculated risk that you were making a politically-safe decision–which you weren’t.” I have absolutely no sympathy for her past or current position.
I simply do not understand her caution regarding Iraq. Washington State is one of the most anti-war states in the nation. True, there is a significant military presence in this state and a significant conservative element in the eastern part of the state. But on most national issues and federal elections, the liberal western part of the state holds sway. If anyone could pull a Lamont/Murtha, it should be Maria Cantwell. I’m guessing that her poll results must’ve shown her running weakly back when the war was debated. And running in full flak jacket/bunker mode, she decided it would be best to take no chances of riling up conservatives in the state any more than she needed to. I’m not fond of politicians who take the easy way especially when they don’t need to in order to survive.
The Times in its typically condescending way, sniffily dismissed the anti-war campaign of her primary opponent, Hong Tran:
Hong Tran, an antiwar advocate running against Ms. Cantwell…has stayed in the primary race despite polling in the low single digits and raising about $40,000.
You see in the Times world you don’t run on principle alone. And if you do, then you’re a hopeless dilettante. What matters is clout and efficacy, even if its wielded by politicians like Hillary Clinton or Maria Cantwell who have sold their souls on Iraq for the sake of political survival (in Cantwell’s case) and advancement (in Clinton’s).
They also quote a supposed political progressive activist who I’ve never heard of insulting the anti-war voters:
Chad Lupkes, a Washington coordinator for Democracy for America…[said]: “You’ve got a bunch of people who say that the war is their top, only issue. Those people are fools. They’re going to vote for Aaron Dixon [Green Party candidate]. Maybe 5 percent of the vote goes for him?”
I’d say Chad Lupkes (don’t you just love the name?) is the fool. I’m not voting for Cantwell no matter what he calls me.
And Cantwell, instead of grappling with the serious issues raised by the anti-war movement has tried to co-opt it:
Ms. Cantwell has made a clear effort to offset antiwar opposition.
…In July, Ms. Cantwell hired two of her potential Democratic primary challengers, both critics of the war, to work on her campaign. The move drew charges from both sides that she was paying off opponents; one of those hired, Mark Wilson, is paid $8,000 a month. The other person hired was Dal LaMagna.
Mr. Wilson, now a Cantwell campaign outreach director, did not respond to a request for an interview. Mr. Lupkes said Mr. Wilson was far from a sellout. He said it had been “critical” for Mr. Wilson to join the Cantwell campaign.
“The progressives really want to learn how the system works,” Mr. Lupkes said.
No, he surely didn’t sell out. But that $8,000 per month sure makes it a little easier to swallow your anti-war principles and join the big guns. Sure, he wants to learn how the system works. The system works by co-opting political opponents with meaty consulting contracts for little or no work.
The full extent of her grappling with the anti-war movement is to embrace a Democratic proposal that called for troops to START coming home by the end of this year. An impossibly vague proposal when decisiveness and courage is called for.
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