Tom Allen is Right, And Other Related Thoughts

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Rep. Tom Allen kicked off his campaign to oust Maine Republican Susan Collins from the Senate by declaring the invasion of Iraq “the worst foreign policy mistake in our nation’s history.”
Allen is generally on the right track. The invasion of Iraq certainly ranks among the worst foreign policy blunders in our history (whether it’s numero uno or somewhere else near the top would make for an interesting debate).
And the residual anger over that mistake is creating political shockwaves that are rightly putting some of the individuals responsible for it in serious electoral jeopardy. Tom Allen and others who made the right choice are rightly holding the individuals responsible for the invasion accountable.
This is all good news, but my contrarian instincts won’t let me leave well enough alone.
So what’s the problem? Most of the current Iraq debate is over troop redeployment – not the original decision to invade, which is far more strategically significant.
The decision to redeploy troops or increase troop levels is a very important tactical decision, and one of the most important issues facing people in government today. But let’s be clear: it’s nowhere near as consequential as the decision to invade in the first place.
Troop withdrawal is taking up a lot of space on the campaign trail – too much, in my opinion. Make no mistake, it’s an issue that will get many people who support a more enlightened foreign policy elected, so I can’t find too much fault with those bloggers, activists, and groups who focus on it because they are “all about winning.”
But the debate over troops in Iraq is not a proxy for foreign policy – no tactical question ever is, though some are better than others. John Bolton’s nomination had a high proxy value, which was part of why organizations like mine and individuals like Steve and I worked so hard against it.
The way current candidates for office approached the original vote to authorize war in Iraq says a lot how they each see the world, making it a reasonably good proxy. For example, based on that vote, we can learn how candidates feel about preventive war, the importance of multilateralism and international legitimacy, the latitude that should (or should not) be granted to the President, the feasibility of regime change and democratization by force, and the proper role for the military – just to name a few major questions that will come up again and again. The question of withdrawal versus surge, while important, is far less illuminating.
It’s hard to fault with candidates for speaking to this issue, especially those who support redeployment. After all, poll after poll shows that Americans want withdrawal, they want it now, and they care about it a lot.
The challenge for people running for office – especially those seeking the presidency – will be to articulate a position on Iraq clearly and within the framework of a broader vision for America’s role in the world and while answering the big questions, some of which I mentioned above. Barack Obama wins points for doing this in his first big foreign policy speech, and I’m sure he won’t be the last to get it right.
— Scott Paul

Comments

33 comments on “Tom Allen is Right, And Other Related Thoughts

  1. commoncents says:

    Allen is a position-shifting, lawyerly weasel who is constantly ‘erasing’ his votes on critical issues and suddenly appearing at the last minute as co-sponsor to a bill that has gotten strong support—looking good for that signing!
    He is the darling of BOWDOIN COLLEGE’s LIB/DEM’s and quietly sponsors their pet causes, often to the detriment of the overall First district constituents. One could say he is ‘entrenched’ and could be re-elected forever unless some other Dem like Ethan Strimling decides he wants to go to Washington.
    Collins is a major leader in the Senate; Allen isn’t, more a captive of special interests like the cabal that has infiltrated the ASPEN INSTITUTE, when Tom and his wife spend a lot of ‘vacation’ time bending elbows with their lobbyists in far away resorts.
    I don’t know which is worse…do you?
    Allen has had nearly six months to make a dent in Collin’s popularity…nada…still 20 points behind!
    He was riding the coattails of the surge of popular anti-bush and anti-war support back in the fall and echoed this back to voters.
    Not any more…hand wringing..’oh, it’s a circus’ and either he’s a clown or in the audience…’we can’t impeach anyone’…he’s sinking like a rock and isn’t going to even come close to unseating Suzie.

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  2. commoncents says:

    Allen is a position-shifting, lawyerly weasel who is constantly ‘erasing’ his votes on critical issues and suddenly appearing at the last minute as co-sponsor to a bill that has gotten strong support—looking good for that signing!
    He is the darling of BOWDOIN COLLEGE’s LIB/DEM’s and quietly sponsors their pet causes, often to the detriment of the overall First district constituents. One could say he is ‘entrenched’ and could be re-elected forever unless some other Dem like Ethan Strimling decides he wants to go to Washington.
    Collins is a major leader in the Senate; Allen isn’t, more a captive of special interests like the cabal that has infiltrated the ASPEN INSTITUTE, when Tom and his wife spend a lot of ‘vacation’ time bending elbows with their lobbyists in far away resorts.
    I don’t know which is worse…do you?
    Allen has had nearly six months to make a dent in Collin’s popularity…nada…still 20 points behind!
    He was riding the coattails of the surge of popular anti-bush and anti-war support back in the fall and echoed this back to voters.
    Not any more…hand wringing..’oh, it’s a circus’ and either he’s a clown or in the audience…’we can’t impeach anyone’…he’s sinking like a rock and isn’t going to even come close to unseating Suzie.

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  3. Pissed Off American says:

    BREAKING: 4 US Reps for Cheney Impeachment
    By Matthew Cardinale, News Editor, Atlanta Progressive News (May 11, 2007)
    (APN) ATLANTA – US Rep. Albert Russell Wynn (D-MD) has become the fourth total co-sponsor of US Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s (D-OH) bill to impeach Vice President of the United States Dick Cheney, Atlanta Progressive News has learned. In addition to Kucinich, the other two Members of Congress who have signed on to H. Res 333 are US Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-IL) and William Lacy Clay (D-MO).
    Wynn’s press secretary did not return calls this morning regarding the matter, but as usual, we will append any comment from the Congressman’s Office here.
    Impeachment activist Tracie Stern of Atlanta World Can’t Wait said the new co-sponsorships are exciting, but at the same time, the case for impeachment is so clear that these Members of Congress are actually just doing their duty.
    Those Members who do not co-sponsor H Res 333 are enabling the Bush Adminstration, Stern said, adding “People need to step on to the stage of history.”
    US Rep. Wynn (D-MD) is a champion of civil rights issues, but unlike Clay, Kucinich, and Schakowsky, he is not a Member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. This suggests the bill is gaining appreciation beyond the traditional impeachment constituency of the CPC. Of course, Kucinich himself had not supported H Res 635 either.
    For example, the majority of cosponsors of H. Res 635, US Rep. Conyers’s bill in the last Congressional Session to create a Select Committee to look into possible grounds for impeaching President Bush, were from the CPC, and about half of CPC Members supported Conyers’s bill last Session. With Kucinich’s bill, most of the CPC leadership have yet to sign on.
    US Rep. Wynn had also not been a cosponsor of Conyers’s H Res 635, suggesting new Members of Congress are learning about the apparent crimes committed by the Bush Administration, including a conspiracy to defraud Congress and the American people over the need to invade Iraq. This case of fraud has been documented in books like US v. Bush by former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega.
    “At the urging of my constituents in Missouri’s 1st Congressional District, and from Americans across the country, I cosponsored Congressman Kucinich’s resolution regarding the impeachment of the Vice President because I believe that Mr. Cheney deliberately manipulated the intelligence process to deceive the Congress of the United States and the American people. That deception has resulted in a tragic, unnecessary war that has already cost the lives of over 3,300 brave Americans and has cost the taxpayers over $400 billion. The arrogant abuse of power and the complete disregard for the truth needs to stop,” US Rep. Clay said in a statement prepared for Atlanta Progressive News.
    US Rep. Schakowsky’s spokesperson said the Congresswoman did not have comment because she typically does not comment on bills she cosponsors.
    Missing in action was US Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) who had told WAOK radio in December 2005 he would sign a bill of impeachment of President Bush should it come across his desk [crimes committed by Bush would equally apply to Cheney in this case]. Of course, Lewis did not cosponsor US Rep. Cynthia McKinney’s (D-GA) bill filed at the end of the last Session which would have impeached Bush either.
    Other MIAs include US Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) who recently made comments that she thought impeaching Cheney was a good idea, as reported by AfterDowningStreet.org [Waters’s Office has not returned a call seeking comment]; and US Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), who supported impeachment in the Minnesota legislature and campaigned for US Congress on the issue. This list could go on.
    The new cosponsorships on Kucinich’s bill are significant for a number of reasons. First, it shows there is more than one Member of Congress willing to entertain real accountability for the Bush Administration, despite the insistence of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) that impeachment is off the table.
    Also, this bill is calling for actual Articles of Impeachment for Cheney, unlike the last bill which not only was related to Mr. Bush, but created an investigative committee to look into possible impeachment rather than providing for actual possible impeachment.
    Therefore, cosponsorships on H Res 333 have even more weight than those which were listed on H Res 635 last Session.
    Also, since the time of H Res 635, Democrats have taken control of both the US House and Senate. Thus, impeachment is even more a real possibility on account of having the potential Democratic support for the bill, even though most Democrats currently aren’t rushing to impeach Bush.
    Because Democrats are now the Majority in Congress, we also now know that Bush refuses to be accountable to Congress, particularly on the US Invasion of Iraq. Bush has now vetoed historic legislation to attach funding for the Occupation with a deadline for withdrawal. Thus, it is now even more clear that traditional oversight mechanisms will not be effective.
    The House Judiciary Committee told APN there are no plans to have hearings on impeachment of Cheney or anyone else at this time.
    “It’s not at this time on the Committee’s immediate agenda,” Conyers’s spokesperson said.
    “Once its referred it has to be on the Committee’s agenda for the Committee to take it up,” they said.
    “In order to move a bill you have to have hearings scheduled on it,” they said.
    When asked by APN if Conyers taking impeachment “off the table” meant based on present information or whether it was complete abdication of a constitutional mechanism no matter what information comes forward, “All we can speak to is the present time,” the spokesperson said, adding it would be unwise to speculate about the future.
    “I don’t think it’s prejudging,” they said.
    The 39 total co-sponsors of H Res. 635 were US Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA), Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA), Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL), Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA), Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), Rep. Jackson, Jr., (D-IL), Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN), Rep. John Olver (D-MA), Rep. Major Owens (D-NY), Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), Rep. Steve Rothman (D-NJ), Rep. Martin Sabo (D-MN), Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA), Rep. Fortney Pete Stark (D-CA), Rep. John Tierney (D-MA), Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Dianne Watson (D-CA), Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), and Rep. David Wu (D-OR).
    It was largely viewed that US Rep. Conyers, the original sponsor of H Res 635, did not re-file his bill out of respect to Pelosi and his desire to be appointed Chair of the Judiciary Committee. Moreover, several Members of Congress have stated that they have followed in Conyers’s steps in choosing not to introduce similar bills of their own.
    About the author:
    Matthew Cardinale is the News Editor of Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at matthew@atlantaprogressivenews.com.
    Syndication policy:
    This article may be reprinted in full at no cost where Atlanta Progressive News is credited.

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  4. Pissed Off American says:

    “And what, pray tell, has Kucinich or Ron Paul done?”
    Kucinich correctly predicted what the invasion of Iraq would turn into, and he refused to support it, or vote for it. And whats more, he has publically stated his opposition without wavering. I might add, Scott Paul seems to think that kind of courage is laudable. Unless, of course, you are Dennis Kucinich.
    “Put forward Articles of Impeachment that NO ONE supports?”
    I meet people daily that support impeachment, and judging from the polls, and the multitude of grass roots organizations calling for impeachment, your statement that “no one supports it” is just more of your standard crap. Most of these bastard politicians in Washington don’t support it. And that is in no way indictative of the sentiment of the American public. But hey, who could expect a Israel Firster, like yourself, to understand, (or care), that this is no longer a representative government.
    “The president needs to be able to LEAD others to AGREE and DO things. As far as I can tell, Paul and Kucinich fail this test.”
    Yes, like George Bush did. He led these cowardly asses to Iraq, just like a herd of sheep. Except Kucinich. But hey, what the hell do you care? Using your line of shit, you just declared that Bush is a good president.
    “I think a LOT of people–though clearly not enough, and not those in power–saw the wrongness of that action.”
    Yeah? Hillary?? Edwards?? Obama??? Look, MP, the majority of them knew we were being fed a line of garbage. Yet they signed onto it anyway.
    Those are your kind of people, aren’t they, MP?

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  5. MP says:

    And what, pray tell, has Kucinich or Ron Paul done?
    Made speeches?
    Put forward Articles of Impeachment that NO ONE supports?
    Those two are SO isolated in the Congress, it’s hard to believe that either of them could get anything done.
    The president needs to be able to LEAD others to AGREE and DO things. As far as I can tell, Paul and Kucinich fail this test.
    There’s lots of wisdom in David N’s juxtaposition of Lincoln and Nixon. One could add LBJ to the mix. FDR was NOT the New Dealer before the election that he became afterword.
    Forgiven writes: “If we all are honest, it didn’t take much “cooking” of the intelligence to sell this war.” Yes and no. Afghanistan, perhaps, had to pay. But Iraq? I think a LOT of people–though clearly not enough, and not those in power–saw the wrongness of that action.

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  6. pauline says:

    poa wrote:
    “the issue becomes what he has ALREADY sold his backers. And THAT is the part that is never included in the slick advertising packages.”
    Years ago, my poli sci prof said, “politics is 98% symbolism, 2% substance.” Today, I would up that to 99 44/100%.
    Who’s at the top of the list of professions that Americans distrust the most? politicans? lawyers? used-car salesmen?
    imo, Obama’s track record for the most part is empty/nonexistent and he does not deserve the “rock star” status he’s gotten from younger voters. Is he a better choice than Hillary? Certainly they both feed from AIPAC’s and the military industrial complex’s money trough. Is he more than a good orator? As Rome continues to burn, can he really offer substantial meaningful economic and social programs that make sense for the shrinking middle class and revive the shrinking civil and individual rights in this country? Is Obama the best captain to turn the ship around? Does he support the US Constitution in both promised oath and deed?
    Will Obama’s oratory skills and youthful appearance be his best attributes? Will his big money backers push him and mold him into operating as one of those unworthy politicians Americans so distrust, where even the 2% substantial programs fall off his priority list?
    imo, Obama’s track record raises more questions than answers.
    imo, either Kucinich or Ron Paul are both far more experienced, far more principled and far better for most Americans to consider supporting.

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  7. Forgiven says:

    I’m sorry I must have been absent on the day when getting wisdom and learning from mistakes became a bad thing. The Republican pundits and attack dogs are already lining up with their “ I was for it, before I was against it” critiques of Democrats who have the courage to admit they were wrong.
    Given the latest on the Iraq war, not to mention the intelligence that it was originally based on, was voting to give George Bush the authorization to go to war a mistake? Of course it was! And anyone who is not willing to acknowledge that fact is either a fool or a liar and both are dangerous. So, according to their “logic” (and I use the term loosely) once you realize you have made a mistake, you are bound by some oath to follow that mistake to the end. Even if in the process you are given new facts that supersede your previous facts. It is exactly this so-called “dogged determination” that has prevented this administration from pursuing new strategies and courses for this war, strategies that may have had a positive impact early on in the conflict. There is something to be said for determination and perseverance, but when does it turn into just plain stubbornness and fool heartedness?
    Would a lot of lawmakers want a mulligan on that vote? You betcha, in the worse kind of way. But what ‘s done is done and we have to move on. Unlike the attack dogs, I am not perfect. I have made many mistakes in judgment in my life, but fortunately I have been able to gain some wisdom from some of those mistakes without public humiliation. So today, I don’t make too many of the same mistakes over again. I would venture to guess that this is true for a great many of us. We have to remember the emotion of the time, 9/11 was still fresh in everyone’s mind and let’s face it we were looking for a fight. We wanted to bloody someone’s nose. If we all are honest, it didn’t take much “cooking” of the intelligence to sell this war. We had righteous indignation and someone had to pay. I am reminded of a scene in “Platoon” where a marine is killed outside of a village and unfortunately for that village someone had to pay. Iraq was our village. Anyone who stood in the way of that train was a coward at best or an un-American traitor at worst. This was mob mentality at its ugliest. Those same attack dogs that now want to call people flip-floppers were those same people who were ready to hold un-American hearings for anyone who did not support this stampede to war.
    It is time we broke away from this blame game and the “I was right before you were right” debate. What we have on our hands is a mess and we can spend more time, lives, and money blaming each other or we can get about the business of fixing this thing now. Ok, Senator Edwards made a mistake and he has had the courage to acknowledge that mistake and to learn from that mistake. I guarantee you he will not be so quick to use the military option after seeing its aftermath. I hope we all can say that. There is no shame in gaining wisdom through errors. “From where then does wisdom come?”
    A fool never learns from anyone’s mistakes, a smart man learns from his own mistakes, and a wise man learns from other people’s mistakes.
    http://thedisputedtruth.blogspot.com/

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  8. Pissed Off American says:

    Bottom line, if one asks himself what Barrack Obama has done in the past that would warrant power brokers investing tens of millions of dollars in his campaign, one comes up empty. So if his past history is not what is being invested in, than these tens of millions of dollars must be getting invested on what he is going to do in the future. So the issue becomes not whether or not we trust Barrack Obama, and what he is promising to sell us. Instead, the issue becomes what he has ALREADY sold his backers. And THAT is the part that is never included in the slick advertising packages.

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  9. Pissed Off American says:

    “Often, in politics, the choice is not between the bad and the good, but between the bad and the awful. In this cycle, that means we wait until after we get them elected to beat up on the Democrats and hold them to our high standards.”
    Thats ridiculous. There is plenty to be seen now that warrants “beating up” on this batch of Democratic candidates. You are just advocating the acceptance of the electoral sham that has made a crap-shoot out of choosing a candidate. The tens of millions of dollars required to run for the Presidency preclude any hope we have of getting an honest representation of what a candidate is actually made of. Who risks millions of dollars on a gamble? To protect the investment, the candidates and their backers have to throw political and ideological conviction to the wind, and “sell” us the proposed policies they think we want to buy.
    BTW, I see Phase Two is finally slated for “declassification” and release to the public. Have you ever seen ANY of these candidates demanding the completion and release of Phase Two? Using Scott Paul’s premises on this thread, shouldn’t such a public demand be part and parcel to considering a candidates convictions about the Iraq war and how we got into it? Isn’t it just a bit feckless to post an opinion that states that a candidate’s past positions are a great gauge of their true convictions, and then turn around and argue that their past history is less relevant to their qualifications than their sales pitches are?

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  10. Pissed Off American says:

    “I agree with Steve that the policies he’s selling are – so far – encouraging and enlightened.”
    Gads Paul, if you guys don’t wanna be seen as salesmen, you might wanna reconider your semantics.
    Trouble is, whenever these people, (pre-election), “sell” us these brainstorms, they never tell us what they are gonna cost us. Most of the time we find out that we have purchased some very expensive hot air. And your contention that their past history of showing an ability to actually DELIVER the product they are selling us is irrelevant just supports the tone of my cynicism on this thread. You are asking us to choose our candidates on the basis of their sales pitch, rather than on the basis of their proven (or disproven) ability to deliver the product.
    Well, many of us are sick of buying pretty packages that prove to be empty after the wrappings are torn off. Or worse, we unwrap the package, only to find a snake inside. If this pathetic loser in the White House would have had to stand up for the presidential candidacy on his past history, instead of the slick marketing that was presented to us, he woulda never got within ten miles of the Oval Office.
    Look, Scott, if it offends you to be called a salesman, telling us that the past history of a candidate doesn’t count as much as their marketing doesn’t exactly support your justification for offense.
    We bought the Bush sales pitch over the very real history that we SHOULD HAVE payed attention to, and look what we got. What is there in Obama’s past that we can look at that tells us we are buying the real deal, or a fraud? Answer? Nothing.

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  11. David N says:

    The question is, just what does qualify someone to be president?
    In one case, the president was a one-term Congressman, small-town lawyer, and political activist with a newly founded party. That was a terrible “resume,” but the president, Lincoln, was the greatest in our history.
    In another case, the president had a resume that filled pages, having been a Congressman, a Senator, a Vice President, and a leader in his party. That president, Nixon, started off all the damage that the Republicans have inflicted on our government and our country for the last fifty years.
    As a job-seeker myself, I am frustrated with the whole idea of saying that the only qualification for a job is that you’ve done it already. In my view, what Steve is doing is the right way to go about it. Look at their ideas.
    Often, in politics, the choice is not between the bad and the good, but between the bad and the awful. In this cycle, that means we wait until after we get them elected to beat up on the Democrats and hold them to our high standards. Doing it before the election may result in another Republican winning, and selling the few rights and assets we have left to the highest — or best connected — bidder.
    Scott: Well, that’s a relief!!

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  12. Pissed Off American says:

    “What qualifies Obama? If achievements in public service were all that mattered, none of the three most popular democrats (Clinton, Edwards, Obama) would stand a chance.”
    Yeah? And your point? Thats supposed to be a bad thing? If their past “job experience” isn’t a criteria, than whats left, besides how they’re marketed?
    Oh, I forgot. Thats where the “props” come in, right?

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  13. Scott Paul says:

    David N:
    My comment was unclear. You aren’t the name-caller – that was directed at someone else. Sorry for the confusion.
    POA:
    What qualifies Obama? If achievements in public service were all that mattered, none of the three most popular democrats (Clinton, Edwards, Obama) would stand a chance. Of the three, Obama’s public service resume compares favorably to Edwards’s and, while they have taken very different tracks, similarly, in my view, to Clinton’s. I guess the more important question for me is, has he been so insignificant that his ideas, style, and character aren’t worthy of consideration alongside his peers? I would argue his resume is full enough that he warrants consideration and I agree with Steve that the policies he’s selling are – so far – encouraging and enlightened.

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  14. sdemetri says:

    Allen needs to get his legislative record out in the public eye if he is to stand up against Collins. There is already a sentiment that his record is thin and Collins’, more high profile, is more substantial, in spite her label as “Bush enabler” in the Maine media. The southern, more populated end of the state is Allen’s support base, but there is a large constituency for Collins in the northern half of Maine, the two Maines, as they say. My district, in southern Maine, voted for Bush in the last two elections by 51% to 49%. Quite a few on the Christian right, as well as fiscal conservatives.
    I have voted for Allen several times, though I didn’t in this last round, choosing a third party candidate. He is solid, but needs to get his record out better if he is to pull this off. Collins is not well liked by independents, but she is a formidable opponent for Allen. The outcome is not at all clear looking at this today.

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  15. jonst says:

    Scott,
    Do you really believe that the original vote gave us a clue about all the variables you point out? Do you really believe that, say, Clinton, or Kerry, or Allen, what have you, did not think, first and foremost, ‘how is this going to help me or hurt me?’…..do you think Clinton believed, or believes, for one second, the bullshit she is flinging around now about why she voted for the Authorizing Resolution? She saw the train coming and calculated, ‘this might damn well be the Gulf War, or Afghan invasion, all over again. [yeah, things looked better back then from the Afghan perspective]…i better get on this train now so I can be at the welcome home parade, assuring my place in line, so I can run in 2008’. That’s what the fuck she thought. Its all bullshit and self interest with these people. What the first vote told us was ‘who among us, was too old, or too small, to run for President. When you find that group, led by Robert Byrd, and Ted Kennedy, you find out who believes what with regard to the many questions you raised in this paragraph of yours:
    >>the way current candidates for office approached the original vote to authorize war in Iraq says a lot how they each see the world, making it a reasonably good proxy. For example, based on that vote, we can learn how candidates feel about preventive war, the importance of multilateralism and international legitimacy, the latitude that should (or should not) be granted to the President, the feasibility of regime change and democratization by force, and the proper role for the military – just to name a few major questions that will come up again and again. The question of withdrawal versus surge, while important, is far less illuminating<<<<

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  16. liz says:

    It is refreshing to see someone come to oust the enabling ladies from Maine. I hope someone challenges some of the scarlet R party in South Carolina this year. The time is right to remove some of these republican’s too.

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  17. PTB says:

    POA,
    I’m just a lowly regular reader of this blog, I’ve posted only once before. Your posts here are, by and large, a great asset yet your lack of humility is a detriment to your prescient message.
    In my last post I encouraged you to use some of your unabashed energy, on these important topics, to affect a greater portion of the population. An organization like Citizens for Global Solutions could be a good match they seem to be making a positive impact.

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  18. Linda says:

    I highly recommend that people listen to Stanley Hoffmann of Harvard who was on Charlie Rose tonight at charlierose.com. I agree with Scott that the debate in the primary races and in DC right now is too much about troop levels. Among the top three candidates, Obama probably has the best opportunity to frame the appropriate policy because like Hoffmann (and many of us) he thought way back in fall 2002 that invading Iraq would be a mistake and open Pandora’s Box. Hoffmann is low key, extremely brilliant, and was saying the same things more eloquently all along and coming from a very strong understanding of history.
    The candidate who will get my vote and probably win the election is going to be one of the top tier (not Kuchinich who doesn’t have a chance even if he has been correct all along) or perhaps Richardson) who most clearly abd eloquently saysg what Hoffmann does, i.e., the whole Iraq thing was a big mistake and based on neocon idealism that totally denied the realities of the Iraq and the Middle East, how democracy develops, etc. Military strength and power can “win” perhaps when the enemy is a nation state but is not much use in a global war against radical Islamic fundamentalists.

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  19. David N says:

    Scott:
    I totally agree that the media role in selling Republican talking points does not get politicians off the hook. One of my recurring themes is that Democrats have been abysmal at articulating their policies and answering the smears, thus allowing Rovian tactics to succeed. They should be held accountable for that, but short of founding a successful third party, in today’s world I’m at a loss for how to do that.
    As to your comments on my “name-calling,” I just have to say that I’m at a loss. I have re-read what I wrote several times, and not only did I have no intention of insulting you, I’ll be damned if I can find where I did it. Am I that bad a writer? Am I that dense? Perhaps you can take this off-line and send me an e-mail pointing out my fault in this matter, and I can then understand, explain, and appologize for what you are talking about. . .

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  20. Pissed Off American says:

    “I think the media and the administration did create such an atmosphere, but I don’t think that gets politicians off the hook.”
    You can’t separate the two. One was the manufacturer of the product, the other was the marketer. The media wasn’t a sideshow, it was a willing partner. People like Miller and Novak didn’t “accidentally” get it wrong. They told us exactly what they were told to tell us. The same can be said for the ilk of Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, etc..
    The New York Times. Fox News. CNN……
    Nothing more than three faces of a modern day TASS.

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  21. Pissed Off American says:

    Hmm, at least this time I got a response, albiet it was along the lines of what I expected.
    Now, care to tell me what, in your opinion, Obama has done that qualifies him for the presidency?
    And while you’re at it, you might want to check out Kucinich’s website. He has had a “plan” for Iraq for some time now, AND has spoken about it on numerous occassions. Some of it I agree with, some I don’t. But point being, it is misleading to imply, or uninformed to believe, that Kucinich does not “answer the big questions first and address Iraq in that context”.
    And as far as “There’s a lot I admire about Kucinich and I will give him props when appropriate” goes, I find it interesting that his call to impeach Cheney has not warranted comment. I guess him being the ONLY candidate that seems to appreciate the rule of law and the importance of governmental accountability is not worthy of comment, or “appropriate” enough to recieve the “props” you are willing to dispense to Obama.
    (And, I would like to opine, good naturedly, that if you are not a slick salesman, you might wanna reconsider your use of the term “props” when describing what you are willing to provide for the various candidates.)

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  22. Pissed Off American says:

    Read the article at the following link. Then, after you have read it, reflect on the fact that this is the same media that is selling us Obama. Then, if you have half a brain, you gotta ask yourself WHY this media is selling us Obama, while at the same time it is ignoring or marginalizing Ron Paul or Dennis Kucinich. And if you have a bit more than half a brain, you will probably remember that the media entities that are now selling us Obama are the same media entities that sold us the Iraq war, and have been complicit in exagerating Iran’s nuclear capabilities.
    http://rense.com/general76/paul.htm

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  23. Scott Paul says:

    David N:
    You can look at the vote on authorizing the Iraq invasion in a politicized atmosphere in one of two ways. You seem to be saying that the mass media is responsible for creating an atmosphere of fear that mitigates the responsibility of officeholders for their votes. Is that right? I think the media and the administration did create such an atmosphere, but I don’t think that gets politicians off the hook.
    Rather, I think the vote illustrates the degree to which smart people act on their better judgment under political pressure.
    POA: There’s a lot I admire about Kucinich and I will give him props when appropriate. If you can find a major foreign policy speech by Kucinich that answers the big questions first and addresses Iraq in that context, please do post it here.
    Also, please be more civil in your responses and give the name-calling a rest. I’m no slick salesperson or professional pundit. I do advocacy work for a non-profit dedicated to peace, justice, and cooperation, and I don’t think I’ve said or done anything that should lead you to question my integrity or intentions. Please, disagree vehemently, but if you want me to continue to respond to your comments, do so respectfully.
    Thanks all, and keep the good ideas coming.

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  24. KayInMaine says:

    Posted by: Susan at May 9, 2007 09:46 PM
    Uh Susan? Susan Collins is not a moderate anymore. She used to be until George Bush came to town. Now she’s in his back pocket on anything he favors! You can’t be a moderate and support George Bush. Sorry.

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  25. Susan says:

    I am not familiar with Maine politics, and I am in general all for Democrats taking seats from Republicans, but why the interest in unseating a moderate Republican? Of course it depends upon when they are up for re-election, but shouldn’t Democrats be more interested in replacing hardliners? Maybe none are up for reelection, or maybe their seats are too secure, but it does seem foolhardy to try to unseat someone who is relatively reasonable.

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  26. Pissed Off American says:

    ROFLMAO!!!!!!! Yeah right, lets sing the praises for Obama, when his rhetoric about Iran is the same kind of unadulterated Israel-backed neocon horseshit that got us into this mess in Iraq.
    You gotta be kidding me.
    Hey right, just ignore Kucinich’s stance and history in regards to Iraq. Wouldn’t want to actually call attention to someone that isn’t marketed and endorsed by the same lying treasonous sack of shit corporate media propaganda mill that brought us Dick Cheney and George Bush, would we Scott?
    I am so God damned sick of being sold these slick posturing bastards, while the true patriots, with unwavering ideological and political convictions, (such as Conyers or Kucinich), are ignored, marginalized and ridiculed.
    Kucinich has steadfastly opposed this war from its inception, before 99.9% of America even knew who Obama was. Whats he get in return from the media and these pundits like Paul? Nothin’. Zip. Nada.
    Sorry, but most political commentators and Washington insiders appear to be nothing more than slick salespeople, hawking the same old cheap plastic products they sold us in the last election cycle.
    And BTW, if these posturing frauds like Obama or Edwards, or Hillary, are not calling for the impeachment and indictment of Cheney and Bush, than they are about as patriotic, and as respectful of our constitution, as Jonathan Pollard was.
    And make no mistake, everytime one of these threads gets started here that praise Obama, and one of us asks just what the hell Obama has done that qualifies him to be the President of the United States, all we recieve in answer is silence. Why? Well, it might be because no one wants to admit that the only thing he has done to warrant his speedball race to notoriety is show a willingness to cow-tow to AIPAC, and play the same old “I will say anything to get elected” song that the rest of these self-serving media created elitist liars are singing.

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  27. Richard W. Crews says:

    the IraqAttaq is, right now, the worst foreign policy blunder. Worse, it has the potential to become TEN times more … worser.
    For years.
    The Republican gift that keeps on giving.
    What other action is debatable? Bay of Pigs? Not even close. All that did was make Cuban deserters Republicans, ruining America in 2000. But then, without those Cubans, we wouldn’t have bush, wouldn’t have IraqAttaq, gee, …
    OK, Bay of Pigs is waaaay up there, all things considered.

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  28. Matthew says:

    If Iraq really is the most important battle in “the long war,” I suggest we send an Army recruiter over the AEI. Of course, the poor Army man will probably evaporate before any of those AEI plastic Rambos sign up.

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  29. JohnH says:

    The central question is: WHAT ARE WE FIGHTING FOR?
    Nobody has been able to articulate an answer. And nobody has been forced to answer one because the mainstream media refuses to pose the question.
    Gone are WMDs, Saddam, Al Qaeda connections, hopes for freedom and democracy, etc., etc. The best the administration can do is to say that we’re fighting for stability and to prevent the terrorists from chasing us home. (Yeah, right! Just like the Viet Cong chased us home 35 years ago.) The best the “realists” can do is talk about all those mysterious vital strategic interests, which somehow they cannot manage to name.
    Michael Schwartz makes the convincing argument that it’s increasingly hard to deny that it’s really all about oil. http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/51572/ But the political class, including the foreign policy elite and national security mafia refuse to address the oil issue. Are they afraid that the American people will refuse to expend blood for domination of the world’s oil reserves?
    My vote is to support Democrats who are proposing to deauthorize the war. Hopefully then honesty will prevail, and there will a real debate about wha we’re fighting for. This assumes, of course, that the administration is finally running out of false pretenses.

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  30. David N says:

    Too many Davids, as usual.

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  31. David N says:

    Scott:
    While I generally agree with the substance of your post — with the proviso that the question of the substance of foreign policy is far wider than anyone has considered — I do find issue with one paragraph. You said:
    “The way current candidates for office approached the original vote to authorize war in Iraq says a lot how they each see the world, making it a reasonably good proxy. For example, based on that vote, we can learn how candidates feel about preventive war, the importance of multilateralism and international legitimacy, the latitude that should (or should not) be granted to the President, the feasibility of regime change and democratization by force, and the proper role for the military – just to name a few major questions that will come up again and again. The question of withdrawal versus surge, while important, is far less illuminating.”
    While there may be elements of this consideration in the original vote, you have left out domestic political considerations.
    Remember, the Republican propaganda machine, while not as effective as it was in 2002 and 2004, is still with us. We have to remember the tactics they used in order to counter them.
    At the time, the main consideration of Democrats such as Clinton was the fear — I don’t think that’s too strong a word — that a vote against this authorization would be used against them in future campaigns.
    These are the people who took a decorated war veteran who left two legs and an arm in Viet Nam, and compared him to bin Laden as a threat to America because he objected to the adminstration’s effort to remove Civil Service protections from career employees at DHS. Considering the way that RoveCo has been politicizing that and other government agencies, we can see that those concerns were entirely justify. At the time, though, those absurd claims — unchallenged by the pet media — resulted in a good man losing an election.
    Later on, Kerry’s vote to try to prevent $20billion from being handed to Halliburton, with no audits, no controls, no accountability, no questions was turned into the absurd claim that this man — also, unlike anyone in this White House, a decorated VN vet — was “against the troops.”
    We need not go over all that history in greater detail.
    The point is, the RNC and its handmaiden, the MSM, are still making these absurd claims, only events have rendered them less effective. We do need to take them into account, however, when we are talking about votes taken at the time when they were frighteningly (an excellent description) effective.
    The further point is that reducing these votes to a single reason is great for campaign slogans (as Rove has shown time and again), but an awful way to describe the truth of what’s going on (same comment).

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  32. David in NY says:

    Seems to me that calling for “a responsible change of course to bring our troops safely home” is precisely right for a legislator. Allen’s not running for President, so he doesn’t necessarily have to formulate a comprehensive foreign policy.

    Reply

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