I can only say — SHAME! Shame on you for siding with the conservative talk show bullies! Shame on you for once again perpetuating this twisted double standard in which the merchants of venom and filth scold their opponents for daring to raise their voices in protest and speak truth to power. Where were you when Max Clealand — a man who risked his life in the service of his country, losing limbs for our liberty — faced far worse “personal attacks” on his honor and bravery for daring to question the rush to War? Where was the Senate outrage then? Where were you then? You were cowering before the conservative mob, running like frightened stag before the baying talk radio hounds, while the Republicans you joined with for this shameful vote laughed at your cowardice and timidity. And now, six years later, you have proven yourselves once again to be the same timid deer, ready to run wherever you are driven when the talk radio pit bulls bare their teeth and growl.
I am tired of you. I’m tired of hearing your brave talk of “Change” and “Taking a Stand,” only to see you time and again knuckle under to the same tricks and demagoguery that held you paralyzed in the past. Your helplessness has become a joke of the late night talk shows. Your cravenness has become a byword among your opponents, who have lost whatever fear they may have felt after seeing us bring you into power after 12 long years of minority status. And your pathetic timidity has become a bitter disappointment to those of us that elected you to create change and take a stand.
I am done with you. Neither you, or The Democratic Party general reelection fund, will receive one more dime from me until a sufficient number of you are replaced with men and women willing to stand up for principle. I and the other “liberal activists” the Cornyn Amendment explicitly condemns shall seek out new candidates willing to stand up against the talk show bullies and the Conservative demagogues who seek to brow beat the opposition into silence with mock indignation, while reserving for themselves the right to spew poisonous vitriol on all who disagree. You will have no more “safe” districts or “safe” states. What use have I or other “liberal activists” — who have sought only to see an end to the tragedy that has become our failed involvement in Iraq and to protect ourselves and our fellow Americans from the rapaciousness of a new generation of corporate Robber Barons — for so-called Democrats who quail before the conservative talk show bullies and crawl to do their bidding? We will find new candidates, brave men and women willing to speak truth to power, and with the spine to carry their conviction from the campaign trail to the Capital.
It may be that you can provide some satisfactory answer to your unconscionable vote and redeem yourselves, but I sincerely doubt it. For actually crossing party lines to condemn the Moveon ad, I have nothing but contempt. It is not merely that you are utterly wrong on substance. It is not merely that this latest craven surrender to the Conservative noise machine marks you once again as unfit to lead our nation in the direction it must go. It is the sheer, utter, lemming-like suicidal imbecility with which you seem determined to leap over the proverbial cliff and throw yourselves into the sea. As a matter of pure, cold blooded political calculation, I am simply astounded at your utter disregard for those who have paid with sweat, blood and treasure to put you and the Democratic Party back in the majority. I am appalled at your inability to perceive the misgivings of your “base” that despite your brave talk you would in the end once again disappoint us by prostrating yourselves before the Conservative talk show bullies who — after two decades of unrestrained consolidation and the death of the Fairness Doctrine — dominate our public airwaves with their vitriol and drown out all voices of dissent with your craven assistance. What “vital center” do you think you win by continued reaffirmations of your political cowardice and timidity? What “centrists” do you think you inspire with consistent craven surrender to the Conservative right?
Had you resisted your craven impulse to bow to the Right, sadly grown into unthinking habit from long use, this “controversy” would have been dismissed as a mere sideshow, the vaporings of the Conservative talk show bullies and Republican demagogues, forgotten in the wake of the next OJ bulletin. But no, you have given your imprimatur to their brayings, handed them another victory to reenforce the perception of their power, and deeply offended those on whom you must rely for success. When your fundraisers call, or those from the Democratic Party call, I shall make clear to them precisely what I think of Democrats who quiver to do the bidding of the Cavutos and Limbaughs of the world instead of standing up for the principles on which they were elected.
To the Democrats who stood up to the bullies and voted against the Cornyn Resolution — especially the Democratic Candidates for President Hilary Clinton and Chris Dodd — you give me hope. In 2003, only two Democrats dared to defy the attack dogs of the right and make a stand against the pressure of the Conservative mob. Some Democrats, at least, can learn courage and can stand by their convictions. Whatever your personal feelings about the language of the advertisement (and there is certainly room for disagreement on whether it was useful, appropriate or effective), I am pleased to see that you have learned that trying to appease the talk show bullies is a losing proposition. You recognized that when push comes to shove and you must go on record and take a stand, and proved you are prepared to stand up for what you believe. You have learned to say “No, maybe I didn’t like the ad and thought it’s criticism of Patraeus over the top, but I will not endorse a double standard that lets talk show bullies call us ‘traitors’ and ‘terrorists’ and ‘cowards’ who ‘cut and run,’ but who fake outrage and demand we disassociate ourselves from ‘despicable hate speech’ when others use much milder criticisms.”
If the rest of the Democratic Party can only learn from your example, there is still hope for 2008. Like Dorothy standing up to the Great and Powerful Oz and thus revealing him to be a fraud propped up with a loud voice and special effects machine, your example in standing up to the orchestrated outrage of the Conservative echo chamber can break the power of the talk show bullies over the cowardly lions, tin men, and scarecrows that make up the rest of the party.
To the Democrats who stood silent, thinking that this placed you above the fray and sent a proper nuanced message, a warning. Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes that “there is a time to speak, and a time to stay silent.” This is not the time for silence. Senator Mitch McConnell put it quite well when he said: “Let’s take sides. General Petraeus or MoveOn.org. Which one are we going to believe? Which one are we going to condemn?” Your silence, however meant, appeases no one and calls your principles into doubt. By refusing to take a stand, you leave yourself open to the accusation that you lacked the nerve to fully commit yourselves. Yes, there are times when it is both the right thing and the brave thing to refuse to engage at all, to follow the wisdom of the old adage that if you wrestle a fool in the mud no one watching will see much difference between the two. But there are also times when one must clearly and unambiguously pick a side.
I close with Senator McConnell’s call to arms. “Let’s take sides. General Petraeus or MoveOn.org. Which one are we going to believe? Which one are we going to condemn?” Yes indeed. That is the question the American people face, and will decide upon in the election of 2008. You Senators who chose Patraeous over Moveon, who claim to hate the War but cringe when the talk show bullies bark, have shown your true character and made your choice. We, the voters who brought the Democrats to power in 2006, who have done the impossible by giving the Democrats an hitherto unimaginable lead in fundraising against their Republican opponents, will not forget when we go to make our choice in November 2008.
Stay tuned . . . .