Another Reason to Dislike Feinstein

23:50 Thu 20 Sep 2007. Updated: 22:45 25 Apr 2011
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Today, Dianne Feinstein joined another twenty-one Democrats to vote for a ridiculous Republican resolution censuring MoveOn for their ad attacking General Petraeus.

The description of the resolution is as follows:

To express 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.

Why? Five possibilities spring to mind.

The assenting Democrats think very highly of Petraeus on a personal level and are genuinely offended by what they see as the unfair attacks on him. I personally think this is the least likely motivator. In part because it seems quite evident that Petraeus is saying what the Bush Administration wants him to say—not a mark of integrity or honor.

The assenting Democrats think very highly of the military on an abstract level and are genuinely offended by attacks on an active commander. It’s quite possible some of them really feel this way. Nevertheless, this is quite disturbing as a viewpoint, because military commanders enjoy no special status in this country, and can be criticized like anyone else. For the Senate to say otherwise, even in a completely toothless resolution, is disturbing. Petraeus is a public servant, and the attacks upon him appear at least somewhat reasonable given the available facts. If MoveOn turn out to have been wrong on this count, they should apologize, but in the meantime the Senate should be far more concerned with whether or not their criticisms of Petraeus are accurate than with reflexively giving him their “full support”.

The assenting Democrats are still frightened of being tarred as “anti-military” by the Republicans and media, and reflexively run to show they’re not when given any chance. Sadly, I think this might be true for some of them, although not all of them.

The assenting Democrats are committed to the occupation/war in Iraq, and want Petraeus to be successful in his efforts to paint a picture of progress. I suspect this is true for many of them.

The assenting Democrats are party stalwarts who see their own powerbase threatened by the netroots, and saw an opportunity here to stick it to the netroots’ flagship organization, and don’t mind at all giving ammunition to the Republicans if they can consolidate their internal party position while doing so. I think this is true for many of them as well.

For Feinstein in particular, I think the last two, and possibly the second, are true. She has connections to military suppliers, sits on a number of Senate Appropriations Subcommittees, and has tended to warlike positions. I think she’s a supporter of the occupation. She’s certainly not perceived as an “anti-war” Democrat, and this in turn makes her more likely to have an antagonistic relationship with the netroots, which leads to an increased likelihood that she would take an opportunity to attack them. More than that, as a long-time and high-ranking Senator, and a clear member of the plutocrat/right wing of the party, she is likely to view the netroots as a possible threat to her position and power withing the Democratic Party.

And so we get the Senate voting to condemn personal attacks on the honor of General Petraeus, while the list of other terrible things in this country and around the world that goes uncondemned by the Senate should give a sense of how ludicrous this resolution was.

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