Shame: The 'Anti-War' Democrats Who Sold Out

In a historic vote, only 30 of 256 Democrats stood against $100 billion for more war.

In a vote that should go down in recent histories as a day of shame
for the Democrats, on Tuesday the House voted to approve another $106
billion dollars for the bloody wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and
increasingly Pakistan). To put a fine point on the interconnection of
the iron fist of U.S. militarism and the hidden hand of free market
neoliberal economics, the bill included a massive initiative to give the International Monetary Fund billions more in U.S. taxpayer funds.

once Democrats could argue was "Bush's war," they now officially own.
In fact, only five Republicans voted for the supplemental (though
overwhelmingly not on the issue of the war funding). Ron Paul, who made
clear he was voting against the war, was a notable exception.

vote has revealed a sobering statistic for the anti-war movement in
this country and brought to the surface a broader issue that should
give die-hard partisan Democrats who purport to be anti-war reason for
serious pause about the actual state of their party. Only 30 Democrats
voted against the war funding when it mattered. And these 30 did so in
the face of significant threats to their political future from the
White House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. That means that only 30 out
of 256 Democrats are willing to stand up to the war and the current
president presiding over it. Their names are listed below; I would
encourage people to call them and thank them for standing up and voting
no when it counted.

Two other Democrats, not expected to vote
against the war funding, joined the anti-war Democrats. Brad Sherman
and Pete Stark brought the total number of Democratic votes against the
supplemental to 32.

Now, there are many Democrats who
consistently vote for war funding, including Nancy Pelosi, but not many
of them have such little shame that they dare characterize themselves
as anti-war. Remember, 221 voted Tuesday in favor of the war funding.
But for those who campaign as anti-war and signed pledges not to
continue funding war and then vote for billions more for wars they
claim to oppose, Tuesday should be remembered as a day of shame and
cowardice. Here are the Democrats who voted against war funding when it
didn't count and yes (on Tuesday) when it did--and when refusing to do
so might have affected them personally: Yvette Clarke, Steve Cohen, Jim
Cooper, Jerry Costello, Barney Frank, Luis Gutierrez, Jay Inslee, Steve
Kagen, Edward Markey, Doris Matsui, Jim McDermott, George Miller, Grace
Napolitano, Richard Neal (MA), James Oberstar, Jan Schakowsky, Mike
Thompson, Edolphus Towns, Nydia Velazquez, and Anthony Weiner. These
legislators should be called and asked why they voted for war funding
they claimed to oppose last month.

Tuesday's vote came after an intense campaign by progressive bloggers, activists
and anti-war Congressmembers Dennis Kucinich, Lynn Woolsey and Jim
McGovern to get the 39 Democrats needed to block war funding to vote
against it. This was made possible due to a roller-coaster-like series
of events in the weeks and days preceding the vote.

The White
House and the Democratic Congressional Leadership played a very dirty
game in their effort to ram through the funding. In the crosshairs of
the big guns at the White House and on Capitol Hill were anti-war
legislators (particularly freshmen), and the movement to hold those
responsible for torture accountable.

In funding the wars post-Bush, the Obama White House has been able to rely
on strong GOP support to marginalize the anti-war Democrats who pledged
back in 2007 to vote against continued funding (as 51 Democrats did in
May when the supplemental was first voted on). But the White House ran
into trouble on this bill because of Republican opposition to some of
the provisions added to the bill (primarily the IMF funding) and one
removed (the Graham-Lieberman amendment that would have blocked the
release of prisoner abuse photos). This created a situation where the
White House and pro-war Democrats actually need a fair number of
anti-war Democrats (whose votes seldom matter this much) to switch
sides and vote with them. That is why this battle was so important for
the anti-war movement.

Many Democrats (who may not have
necessarily been against the supplemental) were up in arms when the
Graham-Lieberman provision (which the White House "actively" supported) was on the table. Facing warnings that it could derail the funding package, the White House stepped in, deploying
Rahm Emanuel to the Hill to convince legislators to drop the amendment,
while at the same time pledging that Obama would use his authority to
continue to fight the release of more photos:

'rushed' to Capitol Hill and prevailed upon Senate Democrats to remove
the torture photo measure in exchange for an explicit White House
promise that it would use all means at its disposal to block the
photos' release. Obama also issued a letter to Congress assuring it he
would support separate legislation to suppress the photos, if
necessary, and imploring it to speed passage of the war-spending bill.
The rider would "unnecessarily complicate the essential objective of
supporting the troops," Obama wrote.

In other words,
Obama took a position that amounted to providing political cover to
Democrats to support the war funding, while pledging to implement,
through other means, the very policy they supposedly found

From the jump, the White House and Democratic Leadership had the gloves off in the fight. Consider this report from last week:

Lynn Woolsey of California, a leader of the antiwar Democrats, said the
White House is threatening to withdraw support from freshmen who oppose
the bill, saying "you'll never hear from us again."

She said the House leadership also is targeting the freshmen.

It's really hard for the freshmen," she said. "Nancy's pretty powerful."

Jane Hamsher, meanwhile, reported
on Monday that it appeared Emanuel was "cutting deals with Republicans
to go easy on them in the 2010 elections in exchange for votes." In the
end, the White House got five Republicans to vote for the funding,
including New York Republican John McHugh, the man President Obama
nominated two weeks ago to be Army secretary. A "senior Republican
source" according
to FOX News "suggested McHugh could be creating a conflict of interest
by voting on military-related legislation while his Army secretary
nomination is pending before the Senate."

What repelled the
Republicans from a vote to fund the war was hardly a sudden conversion
to pacifism (in fact, their position was hypocritical).
It was largely when the White House and Congressional Democratic
leadership added a provision to the bill that will extend up to $100
billion in credits to the International Monetary Fund. This sent many
Republicans to the microphones to denounce the funding as a "global
bailout" and will undoubtedly be used as a campaign issue in 2010 to
attack the Democrats who voted for the spending bill. For its part, the
Democratic leadership, in trying to win Democratic support, portrayed
the IMF funding as a progressive policy:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is trying to paint the IMF provision as
a "very important national security initiative." The IMF, she said,
"can be a force for alleviating the fury of despair among people, poor
people throughout the world."

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer's office put out a position paper
that declared the IMF funding "is key to making us more secure," adding
that the money will ensure that the "IMF has the ability to play its
central role in resolving and preventing the spread of international
economic and financial crises." The paper also provided a litany of
comments from prominent Republicans praising the IMF, including from
the Bretton Woods Committee (Henry Kissinger, Condoleezza Rice, Henry
Paulson, Robert Rubin, James A. Baker, Nicholas F. Brady, Colin Powell,
Paul A. Volcker, Paul H. O'Neill, etc.). Also, Ronald Reagan, George
H.W. Bush, Newt Gingrich and, of course, George W. Bush.

If there was a real opposition party in Congress, all of this would have provided yet more reasons to vote against the bill.

is a pathetic symbol of just how bankrupt the Congressional Democratic
leadership is when it comes to U.S. foreign policy that Pelosi, Hoyer
et al are trying to use funding for the IMF to convince other Democrats
to support war funding. The IMF has been a destabilizing force in many
countries across the globe through its austerity measures and
structural adjustment schemes. Remember, it was the policies of the IMF
and its cohorts at the World Bank and World Trade Organizations that
sparked global uprisings in the 1990s.

To support the IMF funding scam, the Center for American Progress, which has passionately supported Obama's escalation of the war in Afghanistan, released a position paper this week called, "Bailing Out the Bailer-Outer: Five Reasons Congress Should Agree to Fund the IMF."

at least a handful of Democrats seemed to understand the atrocious role
the IMF has played and tried (unsuccessfully) to impose rules
on the funding that would have confronted the IMF's austerity measures
by requiring that "the funds allocated by Congress for global stimulus
are used for stimulatory, and not contractionary, purposes."

In urging their colleagues to oppose the war funding and
the IMF funding, Kucinich and California's Bob Filner sent a Dear
Colleague letter, which stated: "The IMF has a long history of placing
economic conditions on countries receiving loans that have actually
damaged, rather than stimulated, those economies, and its policies have
not changed enough to warrant support." They charged that the IMF
funding "would be used to bail out private European banks with U.S.
taxpayer money." In addition to the military and IMF funding, the bill
also provides $10.4 billion for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for
International Development (USAID), and $7.7 billion for "Pandemic Flu

Under the leadership of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid,
the Democratic-controlled Congress has been a house of war.
Unfortunately, it is not a house where the war is one of noble
Democrats fighting for peace, freedom and democracy against the evil,
belligerent Republicans as they advocate and implement policies of
preemptive war, torture and the violation of civil liberties. Instead,
it is a house void of substantive opposition to the ever-expanding war
begun under Bush and escalating under Obama.

Tuesday's vote
was another one of those moments in Congress where heroes are made,
like the day when Sen. Russ Feingold stood alone as the sole Senator to
vote against the USA Patriot Act. To paraphrase Bush, it was one of
those days when we truly discover who is for war and who is against it.

Below are the Democrats who stood against Obama's expanding war
the day their votes mattered (See where your Representative stood here):

Baldwin, Michael Capuano, John Conyers, Lloyd Doggett, Donna Edwards,
Keith Ellison, Sam Farr, Bob Filner, Alan Grayson, Raul Grijalva,
Michael Honda, Marcy Kaptur, Dennis Kucinich, Barbara Lee, Zoe Lofgren,
Eric Massa, Jim McGovern, Michael Michaud, Donald Payne, Chellie
Pingree, Jared Polis, Jose Serrano, Carol Shea-Porter, Jackie Speier,
John Tierney, Nikki Tsongas, Maxine Waters, Diane Watson, Peter Welch,
and Lynn Woolsey.

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