Shame On You Mr. Sestak

How dare you, sir? You have done an excellent job representing me these past four months, and I have highly approved of the job you've done. And when it came to Iraq, you had vocally called for the withdraw of American forces from that unwinnable war. You joined 168 of your colleagues and voted for the McGovern bill. Why, then, did you cave and vote for the war funding that does not have any timelines? As someone who actively supported you, went to a rally, and even had the opportunity to meet with you personally, I feel confused, disappointed, and betrayed.

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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.

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On Sestak

So I've kept Joe Sestak on my list of possible saboteurs of the supplemental, which has frustrated many Sestak partisans.  As far as I'm concerned, passing this legislation is an important part of disengaging the Democratic party from the pro-war brand, so a vote against it is a problem.  That said, I'm more charitable to progressives who vote against it as a mechanism for creating left-wing pressure, though I have serious reservations about the progressive caucus as an (dis) organized group.

Sestak appears like he's in the liberal camp.  Here's his statement about the legislation.

"Although I am dissapointed there is not one fixed date certain by the end of the year to redeploy out of Iraq, as my legislation proposes, in order to permit a change in strategy to where the Iraqis as well as Iranians and Syrians have an incentive to work for stablity, I am pleased we are moving in the right direction for an end date to this War, so we can enhance our security around the world."

He has also proposed his own legislation which would fix a withdrawal date.  Still, here's why I'm keeping Sestak on the list.  In late February, he stabbed Murtha in the back in the Washington Post with a right-wing frame.

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.

Ratifying the idea that Congress has no place in military affairs and that the Murtha legislation meddles in military strategy is not appropriate for a progressive, so he's not really in that camp.  I don't think his legislation on withdrawal is particularly useful as anything but a communications strategy, and while communications is not unimportant, undercutting the Murtha plan the way he did destroys any PR credibility his plan might have had.

Sestak is currently undecided on the supplemental, but like many of us, he's moving to embrace the progressive parts of the current bill.  Still, because of his earlier right-wing foul, I'm going to judge him on his vote, because that's where the rubber now meets the road.  I'm sure this won't satisfy the ardent Sestak partisans, but hopefully it is an explanation of this somewhat unique case.

UPDATE: As I somewhat expected, there are a whole bunch of people accusing me of making up an accusation of Sestak, despite it being pretty cut-and-dried in an important newspaper article that Sestak actually undermined Murtha's plan from the right. I still haven't heard anyone actually address that problem, which is the source of my criticism of Sestak. Also, I'm not against Sestak, I think he's great. He just screwed this one up, and has a chance to remedy his error. It's good he has his own plan, but that's not remotely an issue, because everyone including Sestak knows that no one is voting on his plan.

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Joe Sestak, Iraq, and "inside sources"

There has been a misrepresentation, posted prominently on this site last week, that Congressman Joe Sestak (PA-7) has not agreed to support the Iraq supplemental funding bill being pushed by the House Democratic Leadership, supposedly because he opposed setting a "date certain" for withdrawal.

Four points, with the details below the flip:


  1. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING could be further from the truth.
  2. If you read the comments of the posts that furthered this misrepresentation, you will see that Sestak's standing has been damaged with some readers by this falsehood.
  3. Readers interested in furthering the Democratic cause, or just ending the war in Iraq, might be concerned about how this fratricide came about - and how to keep our aim truer in the future.
  4. And just so you don't miss it - Joe Sestak will be on Meet the Press on Sunday. If you care about his Iraq position, please watch and hear it from him directly.

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Blue Dog Supplemental Saboteur List, Updated

Once again, here's the list of the Blue Dogs (plus Sestak) who are against the supplemental because of the conditions it imposes. I removed Kirsten Gillibrand, because she signaled she'd vote for the bill after internal deliberations and public pressure from her supporters.

Here's the list, with three new members (Lincoln Davis (TN-04), Joe Donnelly (IN-02), and Bob Ethridge (NC-02)). Lots of Indiana reps on the list, which is nice because it's Evan Bayh whose wavering in the Senate (along with the Nelsons, of course).

Michael Arcuri (NY-24)
John Barrow (GA-12)
Melissa Bean (IL-08)
Dan Boren (OK-02)
Jim Cooper (TN-05)
Bud Cramer (AL-02)
Lincoln Davis (TN-04)
Joe Donnelly (IN-02)
Brad Ellsworth (IN-08)
Bob Ethridge (NC-02)
Kirsten Gillibrand (NY-20) ???
Baron Hill (IN-09)
Tim Mahoney (FL-16)
Jim Marshall (GA-08)
Mike McIntyre (NC-07)
Collin Peterson (MN-07)
John Salazar (CO-03)
Joe Sestak (PA-07)
Heath Shuler (NC-11)
Gene Taylor (MS-04)

Today's big win in the Appropriations Committee is good for momentum. Win or lose, Pelosi is an amazing Speaker.

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