Saturday, June 09, 2007

J.Harman's Words to Klein on Iraq - Why They Matter

As I discussed in my previous diary:
Jane Harman, despite not telling her constituents publicly before the vote, was going to vote FOR the Iraq supplemental up until the last minute. She'd voted Yes on a supplemental with timelines before. This one was the blank-check version that Bush wanted.

She voted against it in the end and put out a press release that said the argument that this vote was about sending the troops the armor and equipment they need "rubbish".

But the truth is she was for it until practically the very last minute, and she herself equated not voting for the supplemental to not giving the troops the armor they need.

And, to top it all off, even after having voted No, she said she hadn't changed her thinking on that.

Joe Klein's subsequent post leaves no doubt that Harman said what he reported her to say, because he goes on the attack against bloggers by citing them for doubting him on that point. Like his earlier posts, this post of his is disingenuous and deceitful in a lot of ways, but not on this point. Harman did give Klein the quote he says she did.

Klein's essentially saying: the fact that Jane Harman's words sound so outrageous and untrue given the way she voted is not my fault, it's hers.

Remember, Jane Harman accuses people voting against the bill as so uncaring for troops that they would not give them the armor they need to protect themselves from frakking IED's. And then she voted against the bill herself.

But that's not the worst of it. The situation isn't that she realized she was buying into pro-administration talking points and came to her senses at the last minute. That would be bad enough to have to admit that what you believed a few minutes ago is wrong, because people would use it as ammunition to attack the position you now support. That's not what happened here - she didn't "see the light" at the last minute. Exactly the opposite, in fact. She did what her anti-war constituents wanted; she didn't change her mind.

Even after her No vote and her press release that called such thinking "manipulation" and "rubbish", she said she still stood behind what she said to Klein [that no vote = denying troops armor]. I surmise that she must reconcile herself to how her thinking clashes with her vote by looking to the fact that the bill was going to pass despite her voting no. (There's no way she thought that her vote would actually cause troops to go without armor - nobody could live with themselves if they held that belief and voted No.)

Thus she has the luxury of having it both ways -- letting her vote and press release say one thing, and having her statements to Klein assert the exact opposite.

But why does what she say matter, you may ask, when she voted the right way on the supplemental and even on the rules for debate that could have scuttled the bill. The reason what she says matters is that it prolongs the war, despite her votes in this case

The fact is that a supplemental putting real restrictions still would have been needed to be passed through the House and the Senate even if this blank-check was torpedoed by the rules of debate, and there simply weren't the votes in the Senate to keep trying.

To change that, the terms of the debate themselves needed (and still need) to change. There never will be the votes to end this occupation so long as putting restrictions on funding = cutting funds for the troops.

And Harman isn't just not speaking out to counter that argument, she's legitimizing these talking pointsto this very day to "concerned liberals" like Joe Klein who make the most of them to beat down Democrats. The "facts" Klein makes up to support his view - like saying Obama and Clinton changed their vote on the supplemental for example - are not going to be damaging (other than to Klein's reputation as a journalist) over the long run. But when he's got a real Democrat - especially a high profile Democrat on military matters - endorsing his "Dems are irresponsible" narrative with her actual (not made up) words, then Klein gets the "proof" that this narrative is truthful. And that's a lot harder to overcome.

And because Harman can't bring herself to renounce this thinking even after voting No on the supplemental, then she's delaying the end of our occupation of Iraq instead of helping it to happen - no matter her No votes in this case.

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