On Sestak, Again

Ok, I'm going to concede that I was probably not as charitable as I should have been with Joe Sestak. He has a withdrawal plan, he has strongly advocated against the war and he speaks against Bush on prominent platforms (like Meet the Press).  Based on this quote from a Washington Post article, along with a source telling me what was going on, I thought that he stepped on Murtha's plan when it was launched.

Freshman Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), a retired Navy admiral who was propelled into politics by the Iraq war, said Murtha could still salvage elements of his strategy, but Sestak, an outspoken war opponent, is "a bit wary" of a proposal that would influence military operations.

"I was recently in the military, and I have to speak from that experience," Sestak said.

This article is not clear enough, and I'm no longer convinced that this is anything but a slip-up on Sestak's part.  Sestak is considering voting on the Iraq supplemental, but if he opposes it his opposition is coming from the progressive side.  That is, the bill might not go far enough to satisfy him, and though I disagree with it I can live with that explanation.  Still, I think he's going to vote for the bill.  This is from Congress Daily.

Democratic sources who are keeping track of votes said all but two or three conservative Blue Dog Democrats appear likely to vote for the measure, despite initial opposition to language aimed at getting U.S. troops out of Iraq next year. The sources also said about a dozen anti-war progressives were likely to vote against the package because it leaves too many potential escape routes for President Bush to avoid the limits on his handling of the war. Aides said the support of anti-war groups and increased pressure from leaders on lawmakers on the fence have limited liberal defections and have converted some former opponents, particularly anti-war freshmen.

I don't know if Sestak came around or if he was always going to go for the bill, but the situation seemed very different a few weeks ago.  Now that the bill is branded as an antiwar bill, Sestak seems to be on board.  And so I should not have included him on that list of supplemental saboteurs who didn't want a withdrawal date.

As for the supplemental, the votes aren't there yet, but it's looking better.  And there's a lot of great organizing being done all over the country with military vets and generals standing out as particularly important and effective.

Tags: Blue Dogs, Joe Sestak (all tags)



Re: On Sestak, Again

Thanks for the update.  I ragged on you a little bit about Sestak, but the presure you put on wavering Democrats is a very good thing.  Hopefully, with a bit more nudging, we can actually end the damn war.

by HSTruman 2007-03-20 12:17PM | 0 recs
Re: On Sestak, Again

Now that the bill is branded as an antiwar bill

imo, that is NOT truth in advertising. bleh.

by selise 2007-03-20 12:34PM | 0 recs
Re: On Sestak, Again

Sestak's appearance on Meet the Press was a command performance and an example of how to maintain composure and focus in the face of ad hominem attacks.  He came across as a man of reason, who has been informed by experience.

Perle and DeLay were savaging throughout and he never took the bait, preferring instead to make substantive point after substantive point.

My straw poll of two (my mother and my wife) were both impressed by him, saying he gave them a sense of hope about the days ahead.

The progressive movement marginalizes him at its peril.  He comes across as a powerful, persuasive communicator.  

When people like Sestak and Clark speak on these issues, people listen.  We need as many of them on our side as we can get.

by TGOSH 2007-03-20 12:58PM | 0 recs
Re: On Sestak, Again

Like I said, there are people out there who deserve the benefit of the doubt.  Admiral Sestak is one.

I realize that, as liberals, we're not really about putting our blind trust in anyone.  That's probably for the best.  But it's still alarming how we're constantly ready to throw everyone and anyone to the wolves, regardless of their track record, if we perceive that they've gotten out of step with us for a moment.

If we keep this up, we'll end up with leaders like this one.

by Steve M 2007-03-20 01:05PM | 0 recs
Thanks, Matt

Joe's a good guy.

by ICantBelieve 2007-03-20 01:20PM | 0 recs
Re: On Sestak, Again

I was confused by this whole thread. I never understood why you got on this trip, Matt. You can't expect 100% message discipline, but there are few people with such consistent, laser-like focus on ending the war as Sestak. If you're larger concern was making sure that Dems were helping to establish "the anti-war brand," then it never made sense to me that you were getting on your horse about Sestak.

He also has been a big supporter of the netroots, and he doesn't say strange things about those freaky bloggers. You turn on guys like this at your peril.

We should be showing other candidates and officials all of the benefits of building strong ties to the netroots. Instead we came dangerously close to sending the message that the bloggers turn on their own.

by EB 2007-03-20 01:41PM | 0 recs
Re: On Sestak, Again


At least I can stop talking about the Dowdification of Stoller... for now.

by Disputo 2007-03-20 05:12PM | 0 recs
Sestak Testified Today - Proposed IRAQ Legislation

The House Committee on Foreign Affairs held a hearing today on the House's proposed Iraq legislation.

http://www.fednews.com/transcript.htm?id =20070320t2581

Sestak was one of the witnesses listed.  I dont't have access to the transcript yet, ut you can be sure that the Dems would not have lised him as a witness if he were not supporting the Bill.

by sswimtri 2007-03-20 01:44PM | 0 recs
Video is up / Transcript should be posted

on committee website as well, eventually:

http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/testimon y.asp?pg=2

Sestak comes on at about 2:31. (I just started listening so I can't tell you want he says yet, but from Lantos' intro, I think he is talking about his own legislation, HR 960)

Just before Sestak, there is testimony from an actual member of the Blue Dog Coalition from PA, Patrick Murphy.

by MH in PA 2007-03-20 02:39PM | 0 recs
Re: On Sestak, Again
Thank you, Matt.
I hope we can all move forward together, and keep focus on strategies that will go a long way toward acheiving progressive goals.
I believe that Joe will help us move in a positive direction.
by quadmom 2007-03-20 01:51PM | 0 recs
Thank you.

I appreciate your rethinking this, and posting this update. As time goes by, I'm sure you'll find that Sestak is consistently one of our better representatives, and deserves our support.

by MH in PA 2007-03-20 02:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Thank you.

I don't like getting backed into a corner, but I think I was wrong here.  Thanks for keeping on me.

by Matt Stoller 2007-03-20 03:06PM | 0 recs
Thanks to you, Matt
I am pleased as punch that you are willing to take a look at new information.
I anticipate that you will be very pleased with all that Joe accomplishes in this session.
Again, thanks for listening.
by quadmom 2007-03-20 06:28PM | 0 recs
Dem leadership and lefty orgs make progress

Pelosi's Pincers have worked on the Dogs by removing every last fang from the bill - though Bush will disagree, natch! - and on the Progs by rubber-hose sessions, and latterly, reassurances from MoveOn that they know the whole thing is kabuki, and won't hold a vote for the bill as a black mark in their liberal credentials.

Will MoveOn get their reward in heaven - or somewhat earlier? Are their supporters fully initiated into the game that's being played? Will they come to regret steaming in to Nancy's rescue in the nick of time?

by skeptic06 2007-03-20 02:49PM | 0 recs
Re: On Sestak, Again

Well-done Matt.  I appreciate you taking the time to set the record straight.  

by vbdietz 2007-03-20 02:54PM | 0 recs
Re: On Sestak, Again
Matt, you are cranky alot, a crumudgen as you said last Sunday.  
You have to see the district he represents, he is retired military and he is a rookie and seems terribly nice.
I'm glad to see you reconcidered.
by vwcat 2007-03-20 03:28PM | 0 recs
Three Cheers for Stoller

Good call Matt.

by Texas Nate 2007-03-20 03:30PM | 0 recs
Re: On Sestak, Again

Thanks for posting this. We've all been guilty of losing perspective from time to time, especially on truly important issues like these on which there can be few if any clear-cut, black-vs-white positions.

I'm pretty passionate about issues myself, but over the long decades of being an activist about them I have learned to appreciate the necessity of nuance. (Yeah, I know -- I may be an old-school bleeding-heart left-wing liberal, but I'm a pragmatic one in my old age.)

The real world is inevitably a give-and-take place, really, and nowhere is this more true than in the concentrated, complicated world of Washington politics. I don't envy those who are tasked with having to push a given point of policy through to its final form as a passable piece of legislation without letting it get disemboweled along the way.

Which is why it's always worthwhile for us to do what needs to be done to keep the good guys honest, but it's important to focus our primary efforts on dinking the bad ones and helping the ones in the middle see the error of their ways.

by Otter 2007-03-20 05:59PM | 0 recs


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