President Threatens Sanctions on Anti-War Dems

Now, here’s a big surprise! The President of hope and change playing politics as usual by threatening the most vulnerable, new House members on Capitol Hill with sanctions for refusing to support his war-funding package. Deep from the heart of an anti-war activist: Barack – go fuck yourself.

Richard Jehn / The Rag Blog

Photo: Getty Images.

Obama and Anti-War Democrats
By Normon Solomon / June 18, 2009

Days ago, a warning shot from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue landed with a thud on Capitol Hill near some recent arrivals in the House. The political salvo was carefully aimed and expertly fired. But in the long run, it could boomerang.

As a close vote neared on a supplemental funding bill for more war in Iraq and Afghanistan, The San Francisco Chronicle reported that “the White House has threatened to pull support from Democratic freshmen who vote no.” In effect, it was so important to President Obama to get the war funds that he was willing to paint a political target on the backs of some of the gutsiest new progressives in Congress.

But why would a president choose to single out fellow Democrats in their first Congressional term? Because, according to conventional wisdom, they’re the most politically vulnerable and the easiest to intimidate.

Well, a number of House Democrats in their first full terms were not intimidated. Despite the presidential threat, they stuck to principle. Donna Edwards of Maryland voted no on the war funding when it really counted. So did Alan Grayson of Florida, Eric Massa of New York, Chellie Pingree of Maine, Jared Polis of Colorado and Jackie Speier of California.

Now what?

Well, for one thing, progressives across the country should plan on giving special support to Edwards, Grayson, Massa, Pingree, Polis and Speier in 2010. If we take the White House at its word, they may find themselves running for re-election while President Obama withholds his support – in retaliation for their anti-war votes.

But it’s not enough to just play defense. We also need to be supporting – or initiating – grassroots campaigns to unseat pro-war members of Congress.

In the Los Angeles area, the military-crazed and ultra-corporate Congresswoman Jane Harman will face the progressive dynamo Marcy Winograd in the Democratic primary next year.

Harman’s vote for the latest war funding was predictable. But dozens of Democrats with longtime anti-war reputations also voted yes. Among the most notable examples were Oregon’s Peter DeFazio and Washington’s Jim McDermott, who apparently found their anti-war constituencies in Eugene and Seattle to be less persuasive than the White House chief of staff.

“White House aides worked the halls during the hours before the vote, and chief of staff Rahm Emanuel called some lawmakers personally,” McClatchy news service reports. “DeFazio, who was undecided and wound up voting yes, said he talked to Emanuel by phone for about five minutes as Obama’s top aide explained the administration’s strategy in the war on terror.”

This is a crucial time for anti-war activists and other progressive advocates to get more serious about Congressional politics. It’s not enough to lobby for or against specific bills – and it’s not enough to just get involved at election time. Officeholders must learn that there will be campaign consequences.

When progressives challenge a Democratic incumbent in a primary race, some party loyalists claim that such an intra-party contest is too divisive. But desperately needed change won’t come to this country until a lot of progressive candidates replace mainline Democrats in office.

On behalf of his war agenda, the president has signaled that he’s willing to undermine the political futures of some anti-war Democrats in Congress. We should do all we can to support those Democrats – and defeat pro-war incumbents on behalf of an anti-war agenda.

[Norman Solomon, the author of a dozen books including “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death,” was an elected Obama delegate to the Democratic National Convention. He is on the advisory board of Progressive Democrats of America. For more information, go to:]

Source / TruthOut

Thanks to Mercedes Lynn de Uriate / The Rag Blog

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6 Responses to President Threatens Sanctions on Anti-War Dems

  1. I join you in the ‘fuck you’ statement; however, I think it continues to be evident that the United States can’t figure out how to create a sound economic system in this country, if it doesn’t building war machines and maintain the ‘fear’ of war; violence, and of course keep us citizens ‘in check’, if we don’t believe there’s somebody out there ready to destroy us, so we have to ‘keep spending billions of dollars’ to protect ourselves.

    I worked in electronic war-fare for years; I know who gets the money; the contracts, and of course living in the state of Washington, you must know all the installations there that rely upon ‘war’ to keep the people employed; paid, and living in a life-style that will allow states like Washington, to pay their bills as well.

    NUWES in Keyport; certainly one who lives in Washington, knows about its existance.

    Look at the battleships that are moth-balled there. Look at the money that each battle-ship cost the Americans, but it kept people employed.

    I don’t know the ratio of profit from being involved in a war, or not, but I imagine the powers that be have done their number-crunching, and the ‘crunch’ is still on – the war-crunch that keeps us all taxed; living below or just above the poverty line, and allowing a hand-ful of profiteers, to live in a grand style at the expensve of our country.

    Granted, it’s not just our country that does this – consider it’s all the major powers, and of course all have their weapons of ‘mass destruction’ ready and able to turn on anyone who doesn’t belong to the ‘war-monger’s club’…….

    If we’re not shooting someone to the moon, we’re shooting them in the head. If we’re not banging our gums about rigged elections in Iran, we’re quickly rushing to cover the tracks of our own invalid elections in this country.

    The people ‘at the top’, are the biggest hypocrites, and our vote has become meaningless because we’re not voting for people of power and authority, but puppets who are handled by those corporations who wield the real power but never run for public office – they make much to much money by staying in the private sector……..

    I don’t want to turn this into a ‘post’ rather than a comment, so I’ll stop right here. Glad you put this article up; my reaction was the same as yours when I read a number of stories about the $100+billion dollars going for furthering and continuing another unnecessary war.

  2. Sorry about the typos……I should preview before I submit the comment. I’ll do better next time.

  3. expensve of our country.

    Should have read EXPENSE of our country.

    they make much to much money by staying in the private sector……..

    Should have read TOO much money

    Any others I made, I’m missing but I think the bulk of what I said, is readable. Diane

  4. JSvj says:

    This is a surprise!?

    Are you guys aware that Rahm denied funding to antiwar Democrats during the senate runs?

  5. Pollyanna says:

    Looks to me like some sarcasm was being employed in the intro to this story. No it was not really a surprise. Some of us have been singing, “We Sure Got Fooled Again”, Rag Blog co-editor Richard one of them.

  6. JSvj says:

    Only fooled if you voted for him.

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