On Sunday, March 18, Sheldon Rampton and I wrote "Iraq: Why Won't MoveOn Move Forward?",
an article now widely circulated online. It has helped to focus debate
on whether the Democratic Party is really attempting to end the war in
Iraq, or is content to simply manage the war for supposed electoral
advantage in 2008.
The liberal advocacy group MoveOn
has 3.2 million members. Yesterday MoveOn misleadingly claimed that the
results from their recent member survey showed overwhelming support for
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's bill on Iraq. "The results are in from our
poll on whether to support Speaker Pelosi's proposal on Iraq: 84.6% of
MoveOn members voted to support the bill," according to MoveOn.
However, this claim flunks the smell test and is far far from accurate.
MoveOn is engaging that oldest of PR games known as 'lies, damned
lies and statistics." The truth is that 96% of MoveOn's 3.2 million
members did not even bother to vote in their member survey. Most of
MoveOn's members probably ignored and failed to open the email, since
nothing in the subject line indicated it was particularly important.
MoveOn informed this reporter that about 126,000 people voted in what I
pointed out to them was a very biased pro-Pelosi poll. The MoveOn
question essentially provided a choice of Pelosi and peace (Yes), or
Republicans and war (No). Gee, guess how that one gets answered?
The real news is that 96% of MoveOn's huge list did not vote with
them to support the Pelosi bill. When MoveOn says 84.6% of their
members chose Pelosi's bill, they mean 86.4% of the measly four percent
of their members who bothered to open their email and respond. A
polling of members in which 96% do not vote is no polling at all.
Unfortunately MoveOn, while claiming to represent their overwhelmingly
anti-war membership, is being unaccountable and anti-democratic.
An article in Politico.com
makes clear the crucial role MoveOn has played by supporting the
Democratic leadership over the large caucus of pro-peace progressive
Democrats. Here's a description of how the MoveOn survey was used
inside the Capitol: "A jovial Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger went up to fellow Maryland Rep. Albert Wynn
as he sat off the floor with a reporter and told Wynn that a vote
against the bill was a vote for Republican victory. He waved a copy of
the MoveOn.org press release backing the measure. 'Have you seen this?'
Ruppersberger asked. 'Yeah, who did that?' replied Wynn, a member of
the Out of Iraq Caucus."
The biased "poll" that MoveOn emaiied to its 3.2 million subscribers
reads like a Soviet ballot. Many liberal strategists inside the Beltway
believe that that what the House leadership is doing is smart and
practical politics. In fact, this is back room power politics of the
worst sort, a cynical 'Let It Bleed' strategy that abandons efforts to
halt the war and is geared toward getting Democrats elected in 2008 by
blaming the continuing quagmire of the Iraq occupation on the
The American people deserve leadership and honesty from their
political representatives and from groups that claim to be representing
them. A choice between Republican or Democratic gamesmanship on Iraq is
no choice at all when it allows the dying and suffering of tens of
thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to go on,
all for some campaign leverage down the road in 2008. As confused as
the American public has been by the Bush propaganda that sold the war,
and the failure of the mainstream media to confront and expose it,
there is now a solid majority of Americans who want the US out now or
in the very immediate future. They are not being served by partisan
gamesmanship, nor is their country.
John Stauber is Executive Director of the Center for Media and
Democracy in Madison, Wisconsin. He can
be reached at: email@example.com