Presence, MoveOn.org, Barack Obama, Betrayal

Barack Obama cancelled a scheduled event to be held in Rock Hill, South Carolina, at 12:30pm on 20 SEPT 2007 at 10:30pm the previous evening.  According to a press release issued by his Presidential campaign, Obama would remain Washington for "important votes on the future of America's presence in Iraq." A campaign spokesperson later referred to Obama's decision as "one of those terribly unfortunate things," but he assured South Carolinians that Obama would return as soon as possible. Voters in South Carolina cannot feel Obama betrayed them.

And yet, at 12:36pm on 20 SEPT 2007, Obama missed Senate roll call vote 344, one of those "important votes on the future of America's presence in Iraq." He did, however, manage to cast votes on Senate roll call votes 345 at 2:54pm and 343 at 11:58am, thereby rendering his absence in the roll call for vote 344 all the more conspicuous.  Some would refer to it as avoidance, while those familiar with Obama's voting record in the Illinois state Senate would rightfully dismiss this as yet another example of Obama's legislative "presence."

Senate roll call vote 344 was the controversial Cornyn amendment to HR 1585, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008.  According to the published statement of purpose, the Cornyn amendment expresses "the sense of the Senate that General David H. Petraeus, Commanding General, Multi-National Force-Iraq, deserves the full support of the Senate and strongly condemn personal attacks on the honor and integrity of General Petraeus and all members of the United States Armed Forces." Aiding and abetting the practice of censorship in the name of America's increasing militarization, the Cornyn amendment was a bald swipe at MoveOn.org, a Leftist, grassroots organization that published an advertisement in the 10 SEPT 2007 edition of the New York Times wherein Commanding General Petraeus was renamed "General Betray Us" for the anticipated defense of George W. Bush's failed military policies in Iraq he would deliver during Congressional hearings on Capitol Hill that week.  

Although MoveOn.org was condemned by George W. Bush and by the press for the scabrousness of their advertisement, 25 Senate Democrats who understood the Cornyn amendment to be so much sanctimonious political theater refused to engage in this Republican attempt to suppress democratic free speech.  One of those Democrats was Hillary Clinton, who voted NAY when the Senate considered Cornyn amendment.

Barack Obama, on the other hand, did not vote.  Remaining silent and present, he chose to eschew the vote altogether, for to him it was not politically expedient.  After all, he had announced an intention to run for President, and the Senator from Illinois does not want to be forced to account for a vote for which he may be criticized.  He will, however, claim he will transform the mindset that led this country to war when standing before the cameras during a Presidential debate.  Votes, I guess, are less powerful than the empty words and promises of the Senator whose voting record is one of politician who is never there but is always, somehow, present.

Today MoveOn.org endorsed the pusillanimous Senator from Illinois who refused to defend their organization's right to dissent and debate.  Perhaps members of MoveOn are suffering from amnesia, or perhaps MoveOn only lends credibility to those they believe have "betrayed us." 

Tags: Barack Obama, Democrats, Hillary Clinton, MoveOn, moveon.org, obama, petraeus, Presidency, Primary, Senate (all tags)

Comments

48 Comments

Re: MoveOn.org, Barack Obama, Presence

McCain would use this in the GE to bash Obama to death. Betray Us indeed. Moveon.org lost my membership today over this. I wanted to vote for a third option of staying out of the primary but they did not give me that option.

by americanincanada 2008-02-01 02:12PM | 0 recs
I quit

told them not to endorse, at least they didn't give the kiss of death to Hillary.  No member of moveon-org will ever vote the way someone tells them to, this is a poll, and it's young men two to one, and they were already voting for him, didn't have to give him the kiss of death though.  Why not kiss him on the cheek? On one side Tony Rezco on the other moveon-org, they guy is rich with losers.  

by anna shane 2008-02-01 03:44PM | 0 recs
Re: MoveOn.org, Barack Obama, Presence

-Perhaps members of MoveOn are suffering from amnesia, or perhaps MoveOn only touts those they believe have "betrayed us."  

Hillary stood up, while Obama stood down and remained quiet. It's amazing how quickly people forget. Super Tuesday can't come fast enough.

by lonnette33 2008-02-01 02:17PM | 0 recs
obama did some blow

he's for decriminalizing marijuana.  Need I say more? Seems Jerry garcia has also backed Obama, after blow killed him, go figure.  

by anna shane 2008-02-01 03:56PM | 0 recs
Re: obama did some blow

shame on you for being Limbaugh-lite, and shame on annefrank for her positive rating of a comment like that.

You're objecting to Obama's 'not standing up', or whatever the talking point of the day is, and using his hugely non-PC and morally courageous stance against the drug war to hit him at the same time? Seriously, is there ANYONE on this website with good judgement?

by alipi 2008-02-01 06:59PM | 0 recs
rec'd

by lonnette33 2008-02-01 02:17PM | 0 recs
Re: MoveOn.org, Barack Obama, Presence

doesn't seem like the three absent votes could have changed anything....imo.

this site used to expose dems that enabled the bush agenda of which there are 22 listed above.

by citizendave 2008-02-01 02:20PM | 0 recs
he was there

he should have voted nay like Clinton did.

Move-on members have no clue anymore.  I was on the very first email that move-on sent out before they even had a site.   It was during the impeachment of course.  Today I canceled my membership over this endorsement.  It is perfectly democratic as all members were invited to vote.  But it seems like the organization has become somewhat clueless.  Do peopl even know anything about Obama?

by MollieBradford 2008-02-01 02:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Presence, MoveOn.org, Barack Obama, Betrayal

At the end of the day, I think it's better for her not to be endorsed by groups like this which much of the general public associate with the very far left.

by musicpvm 2008-02-01 02:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Presence, MoveOn.org, Barack Obama, Betrayal

you may be right.

by MollieBradford 2008-02-01 02:50PM | 0 recs
far left?

this country doesn't have a far left

by citizendave 2008-02-01 03:31PM | 0 recs
Re: far left?

If you read my comment, I said that the general public ASSOCIATES groups like moveon.org with the far left, I did not say that I considered them to be far left.

by musicpvm 2008-02-01 05:08PM | 0 recs
her's my email to MoveOo

"Please unsubscribe me immediately. This was a cowardly endorsement, made more cowardly by sloughing it off on the "popular vote" excuse. It was widely circulated on blogs that you had no security on your poll, and people could vote as often as they wanted.

You are all cowards and ingrates. Hillary Clinton stood up for you and voted NO on the censure motion against MoveOn, while your hero Barack Obama had his finger up in the political wind and skipped the vote on purpose, later claiming it was "silly".

Screw all of you. You care more about your little elitist clique than you do about the future of our country. You'll never get another dime from me."

by campskunk 2008-02-01 02:54PM | 0 recs
drifting toward fanaticism

Moveon started as a bunch of sensible moderate people fed up with the Impeachment, basically defending Clinton but collecting money from all over the country to get rid of the 'safe seat' impeachers (Lott etc) and back moderate candidates of both parties.

Sure has shifted....

I wonder if it's that moderate voters just don't spend their volunteer hours on polittical organizaitons ... or on big blogs.

Yay for Taylor Marsh anyway!

by 1950democrat 2008-02-01 04:42PM | 0 recs
Unbelievable

I distinctly remember that time when all this was happening-- how shocked I was that Obama wouldn't even vote, and how pleasantly surprised that Clinton  voted NO.

Obama loves to talk about courage to change ... but doesn't walk the walk.

by Sieglinde 2008-02-01 05:07PM | 0 recs
Re: Presence, MoveOn.org, Barack Obama, Betrayal

I consider myself very liberal.  I like both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.  I support Clinton, but would be OK if she didn't get the nomination.  I see them as both suitably progressive for my taste, certainly in comparison to the horror that is John McCain.

Until today I was also a member of MoveOn.  

Leaving aside the valid point others have already made in the comparison of the way Clinton stood up for MoveOn when Obama didn't, I just don't understand why MoveOn felt the need to endorse either person in this race.

I prefer belonging to political organizations that focus efforts at fighting the conservative ideology.  In this case MoveOn needlessly and harmfully divided the progressive base of the Democratic Party.

Every nickle, every email, every phone call, every sign that this endorsement generates at the cost of similar efforts in the GE is a terrible waste of resources for the vastly more meaningful fight.

Further, what does MoveOn hope to gain from this?  Usually endorsing organizations exact a quid pro quo for that commitment - for example, a promise to fight for certain causes or support specific legislation.  Did MoveOn gain a single benefit out of this? None that I'm aware of.

My money and efforts are headed in other directions.  It's time to move on.

by steveinohio 2008-02-01 05:13PM | 0 recs
Well said. It is time to move on.

by Shazone 2008-02-02 05:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Presence, MoveOn.org, Barack Obama, Betrayal

Here's the link so the comment page for Moveon.
Tell them what you think. I just did.

http://pol.moveon.org/feedback/fb/form.h tml?tp=suggest

by SF Bay 2008-02-01 05:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Presence, MoveOn.org, Barack Obama, Betrayal

That is the link "to" the comment page...

by SF Bay 2008-02-01 05:42PM | 0 recs
MoveOn denied Edwards supporters a 3rd choice

We did not want MoveON to endorse without giving us a third choice. That was denied.

Lost respect for MoveON

by yann123 2008-02-01 05:39PM | 0 recs
Obama's Statement, That Day

Link:

"The focus of the United States Senate should be on ending this war, not on criticizing newspaper advertisements. This amendment was a stunt designed only to score cheap political points while what we should be doing is focusing on the deadly serious challenge we face in Iraq. It's precisely this kind of political game-playing that makes most Americans cynical about Washington's ability to solve America's problems. By not casting a vote, I registered my protest against this empty politics. I registered my views on the ad itself the day it appeared.

"All of us respect the service of General Petraeus and all of our brave men and women in uniform. The way to honor that service is to give them a mission that is responsible, not to vote on amendments like the Cornyn amendment while we continue to pursue the wrong policy in Iraq."

He stood up for Move On.

by Adam B 2008-02-01 05:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Statement, That Day

His nonvote was just as subversive as all the present votes he cast on antichoice legislation in the Illinois state Senate, I guess.  

I quote Illinois NOW:

In celebration of Women's History Month, March 28, 2007, the National Organization for Women Political Action Committee, NOW PAC, announced its endorsement of Hillary Clinton for President (see article below).

Illinois NOW PAC supported the endorsement of Senator Clinton. "She is, after all, our native sister," said Bonnie Grabenhofer, president of Illinois NOW. "We know from her record and in her heart she will be there for us."

Senator Clinton has a long history of support for women's empowerment, and her public record is a testimony to her leadership on issues important to women in the U.S. and around the globe. She has eloquently articulated the need for full economic, political and social equality for women in every institution of society, taking action throughout her career -- as a lawyer, community leader, First Lady, Senator and candidate for the presidency -- to advance the civil and human rights of women and girls.

After looking at his record, Grabenhofer does not feel the same way about Illinois Senator Barack Obama.

During Senator Obama's 2004 senate campaign, the Illinois NOW PAC did not recommend the endorsement of Obama for U.S. Senate because he refused to stand up for a woman's right to choose and repeatedly voted `present' on important legislation.

As a State Senator, Barack Obama voted `present' on seven abortion bills, including a ban on 'partial birth abortion,' two parental notification laws and three 'born alive' bills.  In each case, the right vote was clear, but Senator Obama chose political cover over standing and fighting for his convictions.

"When we needed someone to take a stand, Senator Obama took a pass," said Grabenhofer. "He wasn't there for us then and we don't expect him to be now."

I also quote a letter Grabenhofer wrote to Taylor Marsh regarding Obama's present votes on antichoice legislation:

I thought I'd take a moment to try to add some clarity to the anti-choice Present votes in IL.
Lorna Brett was president of CNOW from 1996-1998. She was not president at the time we were lobbying on these bills. Five of those votes occurred in the 92nd General Assembly session in 2001. NOW records indicate that she hasn't been a member since 1999. She was not there when we were lobbying against these bills. She is using her very old affiliation with NOW to try to validate her criticism of Hillary Clinton.

Voting Present on those bills was a strategy that Illinois NOW did not support. We made it clear at the time that we disagreed with the strategy. We wanted legislators to take a stand against the awful anti-choice bills being put forth. Voting Present doesn't provide a platform from which to show leadership and say with conviction that we support a woman's right to choose and these bills are unacceptable.

The Present strategy was devised to give political cover to legislators in conservative districts. Barack Obama did not represent a conservative district; he could have voted No with very little negative consequence in his district.

- Bonnie Grabenhofer
IL NOW State President

Empty words do not account for nonvotes, Adam.  And nothing Obama may have said after he failed to defend MoveOn on the floor of the Senate accounts for his unwillingness to defend that organization's right to debate and dissent.  This, of course, is a pattern: Obama misses votes or votes present, and then he claims such nonvotes were heroic feats.  Although you and others may be duped by such political chicanery, I remain unconvinced.
 

by truthteller2007 2008-02-01 06:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Statement, That Day

Illinois NOW endorsed Blair Hull, the wifebeater, and stuck by him after the allegations came out.  Their credibility is a bit suspect.

And in order to give cover to legislators in conservative districts, there needed to be some unquestioned liberal also voting present.  That's why Planned Parenthood-Illinois asked Obama to vote that way.

by Adam B 2008-02-01 06:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Statement, That Day

I do not believe that is the case.  And in fact, Illinois NOW lobbied against the strategy.  And besides, Obama did not represent a conservative district.

Obama also claims he voted incorrectly six times when in the Illinois senate.

Again, this is a pattern, and it is one I and others find very problematic.  But you, of course, will defend it as shrewd politics, although those of us who are more discerning understand it to be so much pusillanimity.  

And I guess his nonvote on Kyl-Lieberman was motivated by his profound insight on foreign policy.  He chose not to vote, for he desired to criticize Clinton for any vote she would have cast.

by truthteller2007 2008-02-01 06:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Statement, That Day

Well, here's one of many times that PP-IL explained the strategy.

No one questions where Obama stands on the issue here.  It's all a big nothing.

by Adam B 2008-02-01 06:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Statement, That Day

Many question Obama's stance on choice.  In fact, some believe he is antichoice.  Regarding other organizations' attempt to defend his indefensible nonstances on choice, I believe the record of present votes and other nonvotes in his legislative career  reveal this is someone who is incapable of making clear decisions.

by truthteller2007 2008-02-01 06:20PM | 0 recs
"some believe"

Show me one published claim in which someone states a belief that Obama opposes a woman's right to choose.

by Adam B 2008-02-01 06:21PM | 0 recs
Re: "some believe"

The present votes in the Illinois state Senate betoken a weak position on a woman's right to choose.

by truthteller2007 2008-02-01 06:23PM | 0 recs
Re: "some believe"

I quote Illinois NOW, who lobbied against the present strategy:

Voting Present doesn't provide a platform from which to show leadership and say with conviction that we support a woman's right to choose and these bills are unacceptable.

The Present strategy was devised to give political cover to legislators in conservative districts. Barack Obama did not represent a conservative district; he could have voted No with very little negative consequence in his district.

Barack Obama is weak on choice, and he utilizes legislative loopholes in order to avoid casting votes on controversial legislation.

by truthteller2007 2008-02-01 06:25PM | 0 recs
Re: "some believe"

Nowhere does that quote claim that Obama is anti-choice.

by Adam B 2008-02-01 06:32PM | 0 recs
Re: "some believe"

It claims he is weak on choice.  And yes, the present votes bespeak a wavering position on choice.  

by truthteller2007 2008-02-01 06:34PM | 0 recs
Re: "some believe"

No, it whines that he didn't "lead", yet PP-IL disagrees.

Find any source that says, straight out, Obama is anti-choice.

by Adam B 2008-02-01 06:37PM | 0 recs
Re: "some believe"

It claims he is weak on choice, which he is.  And this is significant, for Obama regularly eschews casting votes on legislation that requires the assumption of an unequivocal position.  I direct your limited span of attention to Kyl-Lieberman.

by truthteller2007 2008-02-01 06:38PM | 0 recs
Re: "some believe"

He stated how he would have voted that same day.  He would have voted against, and has not wavered.

by Adam B 2008-02-01 06:40PM | 0 recs
Re: "some believe"

But that is a claim.  Unfortunately, the incontrovertible evidence in the form of a vote is lacking.  I located a published claim that Obama is antichoice.  Consult the citation in the comment located below this particular thread of discussion.

by truthteller2007 2008-02-01 06:42PM | 0 recs
Re: "some believe"

And why do you rely on his statements as evidence?  

by truthteller2007 2008-02-01 06:43PM | 0 recs
Re: "some believe"

There are some teenage bloggers who believe Obama is anti-choice.  And I believe the provide compelling evidence regarding his support for problematic judges.

by truthteller2007 2008-02-01 06:41PM | 0 recs
Re: "some believe"

Heh. Clinton also voted for cloture on Owen.

by Adam B 2008-02-01 07:00PM | 0 recs
Re: "some believe"

But Clinton never voted present on choice legislation. Moreover, Clinton placed holds on Surgeon General until the morning after bill was approved.  

Clinton is strong on choice, while Obama's record is one of a person who is weak on choice.

by truthteller2007 2008-02-01 07:04PM | 0 recs
Re: "some believe"

Clinton and Murray placed pressure on the FDA for the Morning After Pill.  Clinton leads on Choice; Obama is merely present.

by truthteller2007 2008-02-01 07:08PM | 0 recs
Re: "some believe"

but you ignore all the other times she voted against cloture on owen.  read the record.  learn.

by truthteller2007 2008-02-01 07:08PM | 0 recs
I question his position

Recently he was asked his position and instead never answered clearly - but muttered something about abortion being between a woman, HER DOCTOR AND HER CLERGY.

No it's not.  The addition the doctor is standard rhetoric, but Obama bringing in the clergy makes my skin crawl.

by Shazone 2008-02-02 05:53AM | 0 recs
Incorrect

According to Debbie Halverson, a Democratic Illinois state Senator, no present strategy was coordinated with Planned Parenthood.  

I quote:

Shortly after Obama's presidential bid was announced a year ago, state Sen. Debbie Halvorson (D-Crete) said her "present" votes were "an easy way of voting" because casting a "no" vote would be "so harsh [since] nobody's for killing babies."

"I don't recall any kind of strategy," said Halvorson, now seeking the Democratic nomination for Congress. Planned Parenthood "may have said it was OK to vote 'present,' but no one on that list [of those voting present] needed cover."

by truthteller2007 2008-02-02 05:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Statement, That Day

To tell you the truth, not only do I not really buy the whole "I abstained to send a message" thing, but it makes me wonder about that whole "present" thing.

I think Hillary showed a lot more political courage by voting no than Obama did by making his so-called statement.

by Steve M 2008-02-01 06:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama's Statement, That Day

You have no doubt heard Wolfgang Pauli's famous formulation that some ideas are "not even wrong".  He meant to distinguish between ideas which have to be shown to be wrong, and ideas which are orthogonal to the discussion.  That Cornyn Amendment was, in the legislative discussion, "not even wrong".

I don't think a vote was ever held over renaming french fries "Freedom Fries", but I would have applauded any Democrat who voted "present" on that one.  To vote "no" would have been an argument that the idea was wrong.  But it was the very paradigm of a "not even wrong" idea.  I say the Cornyn Amendment was on a par with a vote on "Freedom Fries".  Remember that farce in the House, when Murtha first spoke out against the war and Duncan Hunter moved a resolution to bring the troops home right away?  It went down 400-2, as the GOP impressarios intended, since the vote was about nothing except giving themselves a talking point.  Would they have had more, or less, of a talking point if the Democrats had all abstained?

The right thing for Democrats to have done on the Cornyn Amendment would have been to let it pass 52-0, or whatever, just to demonstrate their contempt for it.  Yes, I know that some Democrats actually voted for the damn thing.  And yes, I know that in the Illinois legislature a "present" vote might be a tactical ploy aimed at trying to have it both ways on a serious issue.  But on Cornyn specifically I say not voting is what all Democrats should have done.

-- TP

by Rethymniotis 2008-02-01 10:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Presence, MoveOn.org, Barack Obama, Betrayal

I remember last summer - MoveOn had a campaign opposing a Coal bill in the Senate.
But they NEVER mentioned it was sponsored or supported by Obama - a presidential candidate!

They lost credibility with me then.

by annefrank 2008-02-01 05:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Presence, MoveOn.org, Barack Obama, Betrayal

I asked MoveOn to take me off of their list immediately after hearing of its endorsement.  Suggest the rest of you do that, too.

I will not have them use my donations to support Mr. Obama as I do not support him on my own.

I also canceled my The Nation subscription.

Both organizations should not have endorsed in the primary.  It was/is unconscionable.

by Shazone 2008-02-02 05:39AM | 0 recs
Obam on Iraq

What makes anyone think Obama would vote NO on Iraq resolution?    

Recently there was a similar resolution on Iran and he was absent.  I would say all signs point that he would just skip Iraq vote then make a big speech how he was against it and Clinton was for it.  Oh wait.  That's exactly what happened with Iran resolution.

I may not 100% agree with Hillary but at least her rhetoric is backed by her voting record.  

by comebackkid 2008-02-02 07:37AM | 0 recs

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