Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 8, 2009

WHAT WAS THAT ABOUT 'EMPTY RHETORIC'?.... Throughout the better part of Bush's two terms, if Democrats opposed spending bills for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Republicans attacked. To vote against "funding the troops" during a time of war, the GOP said, was necessarily a betrayal. It was the basis for countless speeches, ad campaigns, and attacks.

Whether a lawmaker was fully satisfied with individual provisions in the spending bill was irrelevant -- the troops are fighting wars and they need the money. Excuses, Republicans said, won't give servicemen and women the resources they need. It became the single most frequently repeated GOP talking point when it came to national security: Dems voted against the troops during two wars.

In fact, just last year, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) argued, "[T]here is a clear distinction between saying you support the troops and backing up those claims with genuine action. [Obama] once said 'we shouldn't play chicken with our troops' when it comes to funding our troops in harm's way, and [Hillary Clinton] urged General Petraeus at the start of the surge to request 'every possible piece of equipment and resource necessary' to keep our troops safe. These words turned into little more than empty rhetoric when both proceeded to vote against funding our troops last year."

Guess what.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House GOP Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) are voting against the House/Senate fiscal year 2010 defense authorization bill -- because it contains hate crimes provisions designed to protect gays and lesbians.

Boehner, speaking at his weekly press conference Thursday, said the inclusion of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in the defense bill was "an abuse of power" by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that sought to punish offenders for what they thought -- and not what they did. He accused the speaker of pursuing her social agenda "on the backs" of the troops.

Oh, I see. When Democrats raise policy objections to military spending bills, and withhold support because of details they find offensive, they're terrorist sympathizers who can't be trusted on national security issues. When Republicans raise different policy objections to military spending bills, they're just doing their duty.

Again, this wasn't just some peripheral argument from the GOP -- it was the basis for countless speeches, entire ad campaigns, hours upon hours of Fox News broadcasts, and a series of angry attacks on the Obama campaign just last year. Subtleties and nuances were deemed irrelevant -- if you supported the troops fighting two wars, you voted to fund them. Period.

In fairness, I should note that as a substantive policy matter, lawmakers can vote against military spending measures for completely legitimate reasons, and opposition to these expenditures does not make one an unpatriotic monster.

But Republicans opened this door. As we get closer to the midterm elections, expect Democrats to walk through it.

Steve Benen 2:45 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (20)

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Comments

"But Republicans opened this door. As we get closer to the midterm elections, expect Democrats to walk through it...."

....and expect a number of villagers to tut-tut the Dems willing to walk through that door. Paging Dean Broder in 3...2...1

Posted by: danimal on October 8, 2009 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Because if you can't beat up, terrorize and intimidate gays and lesbians, how can you even say you have freedom of thought?

Republicans. Objectively pro-rape and pro-violence. Not even trying to hide it.

Posted by: shortstop on October 8, 2009 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

"But Republicans opened this door. As we get closer to the midterm elections, expect Democrats to walk through it...."

A decade's worth of experience with the Democrats suggests they will do no such thing.

However, in a society in which more people die every few months from lack of health care than died in 9/11, the current obsession with defense spending is abnormal. Not to mention the deficit financing of endless wars.

As for "support the troops," in a democracy, it is the troops that are supposed to support the civilians and not the other way around. But then, who says the USA is a democracy?

Posted by: Hazmor on October 8, 2009 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Who cares? Please count the number of Republicans in the House. If they all voted no, the bill could still pass easily.
The Democrats should be quick to refresh the public's memory on those past troop funding bills, however.

Posted by: John D'oh on October 8, 2009 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, you're gonna an ulcer if you keep expecting to find 'logic' and 'Republican' co-existing in today's world. . .

Posted by: DAY on October 8, 2009 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

Boehner's got a point:
We're funding a war and we kill people inadvertently in waging that war (mainly because it is an absurd war against an enemy best combatted through international policing and diplomacy).

if the innocent are dying in afghanistan, why the hell we make it illegal to kill the innocent here in the us?

huh?
huh?
huh?

Posted by: neill on October 8, 2009 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans do this because Democrats let them get away with it. If every Democrat who gets on TV to address national security issues went with this issue (Republicans voting against support for the troops), there would be a price to pay.

If the interviewer says that the vote was about some minor issue over an attached amendment, the Democrat should respond that the interviewer never would have let a Democrat get away with such an excuse in 2006, and a fair reporter will apply the same standard to the Republicans.

Posted by: Joe Buck on October 8, 2009 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

The TV spots write tehmselves. Clips of Boehner, Pence, et al., denouncing anti-troops votes, then clips of Boehner, Pence, et al., voting nno on the troops appropriation. Maybe a little bit of commentary

Posted by: Greg Worley on October 8, 2009 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans. Objectively pro-rape and pro-violence.

But shortstop, according to the estimable Rep. Louie Gohmert from my state, hate crimes bills lead to gay sex which leads to sex with dead people, children and farm animals which leads to Hitler and teh Nazis!! Or something.

Posted by: ckelly on October 8, 2009 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

One thing that bothers me about this rhetoric is the idea that Republicans supported the troops back in the day when they had control of everything. That's not really true, is it? There's plenty of evidence out there of poorly made flak jackets and out-of-date equipment & poisoned water & shocking showers provided for millions by Halliburton. None of those things exactly screams reverence for those who chose to serve their country in the military.

If you want an example of how petty they could really be, even back in the day when they ruled the roost, in April 2005, there was a Senate vote to allot 213 million -- million!!! -- to properly armor-up humvees. Final vote was 61 yeas, 39 nays.

All but one no vote belonged to Republicans.

Supporting the troops is more than a few throw-away words in a campaign letter or stump speech. It's creating legislation that will best protect the troops during their time of service and afterward. Imagine if the situation at Walter Reed occurred under a Democratic president.

Posted by: zhak on October 8, 2009 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans opened this door. As we get closer to the midterm elections, expect Democrats to walk through it.
=========================

Y'all are thinking of some other Democrats; on past performance, the ones in the House and Senate will either ignore it, apologize for it, or agree with it in a bipartisan spirit of cooperation.

Posted by: Fleas correct the era on October 8, 2009 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

You know, soldiers are also victims of violent hate crimes committed against them for their race, religion, and real or perceived sexual orientation. I'm not the only one who knows the name Barry Winchell. This law would also protect those troops.

Why do Republicans hate the troops?

This law adds disability to the federal definition of hate crimes. Are Republicans not interested in protecting people in wheelchairs? Why do Republicans hate the disabled?

Posted by: Keori on October 8, 2009 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

All I want to know is why we really give a damn what the Republicans think at this point. They had power over congress for a decade and a half and didn't give a rats ass what Democrats thought except to belittle and demonize them at every step. Then they took control of the White House for eight years and proceeded to destroy everything that makes this country great one brick at a time.

Then they lost an election because people started to wake up.

Then they lost another.

Then they lost another.

Now they are firmly in the minority and THEY'RE STILL FREAKING RUNNING THINGS.

It's long since past time for Democrats to stand up and say "No more of this nonsense.". If they think by treating the Republicans with kid gloves that in the future they will be treated nicely, they're out of their damned minds. To hell with bipartisanship people are -dying- right and left while we're sitting around trying to make nicey nice with the very same people who sent our troops off to die in the sandbox so George W. Bush could get (re) elected in 2004 and Dick Cheney's stock portfolio could grow.

and as I recall they're the same people that invented Free Speech zones, pre-emptive arrest of protestors and slapping the cuffs on people at Presidential speeches for having the wrong t-shirt or bumpersticker, so if any of them have a problem with this response - COPE.

Posted by: E in MD on October 8, 2009 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

"If you want an example of how petty they could really be, even back in the day when they ruled the roost, in April 2005, there was a Senate vote to allot 213 million -- million!!! -- to properly armor-up humvees. Final vote was 61 yeas, 39 nays. All but one no vote belonged to Republicans."

Because there was a large amount of pork + random nonsense attached to it....a lot of it dealing with Tsunami relief. Here is an example of that:

"SA 504. Mrs. CLINTON submitted an amendment intended to be proposed by her to the bill H.R. 1268, Making emergency supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2005, to establish and rapidly implement regulations for State driver's license and identification document security standards, to prevent terrorists from abusing the asylum laws of the United States, to unify terrorism-related grounds for inadmissibility and removal, to ensure expeditious construction of the San Diego border fence, and for other purposes; which was ordered to lie on the table; as follows:


On page 176, line 17, after ``1961:'' insert ``Provided further, That, notwithstanding any other provision of law, of the funds appropriated under this heading not less than $3,000,000 shall be transferred to the United Nations Population Fund to provide assistance to tsunami victims in Indonesia, the Maldives, and Sri Lanka to (1) provide and distribute equipment, including safe delivery kits and hygiene kits, medicines, and supplies, including soap and sanitary napkins, to ensure safe childbirth and emergency obstetric care, (2) reestablish maternal health services in areas where medical infrastructure and such services have been destroyed by the tsunami, (3) prevent and treat cases of violence against women and youth, (4) offer psychological support and counseling to women and youth, (5) promote the access of unaccompanied women and other vulnerable people to vital services, including access to water, sanitation facilities, food, and health care, and (6) make available supplies of contraceptives for the prevention of pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS: Provided further, That nothing in the preceding provision may be construed to alter any existing statutory prohibitions against abortion set out in section 104(f) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2151b):''.

"This law adds disability to the federal definition of hate crimes. Are Republicans not interested in protecting people in wheelchairs? Why do Republicans hate the disabled?"

We dont and you know we dont. It may make you feel good to ask why do the republicans hate the troops/the disabled", but its downright childish. What we hate is unconstitutional thought crime laws.

"If they think by treating the Republicans with kid gloves that in the future they will be treated nicely, they're out of their damned minds. To hell with bipartisanship "

You actually think that the Dems are tresating the reps with kid gloves and are being bipartisan? The dems wont allow any amendments of the Republicans come up for a debate and vote. You call that bipartisan?

Posted by: Ernest on October 8, 2009 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

Boehner must be soft on crime as well as hate the troops: the difference between first degree murder (often a capital offense) and lower grades of homicide is a term called "premeditation" (i.e., they thought about the crime before committing it). Thus Boehner believes that states should strike the current definitions of first-degree murder off their books and probably commute the sentences of anyone sentenced for such a nonsensical crime.

Posted by: MinuteMan on October 8, 2009 at 7:17 PM | PERMALINK

Demonstrating that Republicans are piggish self- centered louts using their own actions and words is so easy. Likewise demonstrating the same for Democrats is easy as well. After we have done so nothing is achieved. Obviously, not attaching a lot of crap to bills is an important factor in getting a bill passed. Have you ever heard of a "poison pill"?

Posted by: russfelix on October 8, 2009 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

And note the all too common Right Wing sleight of hand that Boehner uses: It is Pelosi's fault that Boehner and other Republicans are voting against giving troops the material they need. Republicans are not hurting our troops when they vote against this bill because they hate hate crimes laws. Pelosi is hurting the troops by pushing her own social agenda KNOWING that Republicans will oppose it. In the Republican world view, their position is firm and right and unchangeable so everyone else must accomodate themselves to them, and when they do not it is their fault for whatever conservatives do, and they must accept the consequences, not conservatives.

George Bush used the same tactic when he blamed Democrats for the fact that he was vetoing a defense authorization that contained timetables for Iraq. The Religious Right says that liberals are "attacking people of faith" when they object to being called immoral.

Posted by: Ted Frier on October 9, 2009 at 6:21 AM | PERMALINK

The definition of "Republican" is "hypocrite."
This is not news.

Posted by: smartalek on October 9, 2009 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Sure, the Democrats controll both houses of congress. But the problem is that many so-called Democrats aren't really Democrats. Many of the Democrats in congress, those that are commonly referred to as the Blue Dogs, and they usually are from Southern states, are Democrats in name only. They are more Republican than Democrat and those who don't believe it should check the Blue Dogs' voting records. At least the Blue Dogs should start a third party and not claim to be Democrats.

Posted by: Casper Green on October 9, 2009 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

I would say paying politicians $60,000 per year and giving the job a more average pension would save money and it would be an exceptionally good idea for making the job seem less cushy and out of touch financially.Unfortunately, it wouldn’t do anything to eliminate the bad apples that get elected.The job still comes with power. That’s an intrinsic characteristics of the job and bad apples are attracted to power.At the end of the day, people keep electing bad apples in part because they like those bad apples. A LOT of people want “their guy” to stick it to big business, or stick it to the unions, or stick it to the neo-cons or stick it to the loony left, or whatever group they don’t like....

valentines day

Posted by: lokenkristianna on December 14, 2009 at 5:43 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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