Tim, questions of bias aside, the Times piece on Sen. Clinton and anti-war Democrats is interesting for what it reveals about the split over Iraq inside the Democratic party leadership. Clinton’s refusal to join Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats in demanding U.S. withdrawal from Iraq has left anti-war activists like those in MoveOn.org not only angry at her position but deeply frustrated by the possibility that she will get away with it:
In a recent interview, Tom Matzzie, the Washington director for MoveOn.org, a liberal advocacy group, suggested that the antiwar movement would potentially undercut its own message by waging what he said would be a hugely unsuccessful primary challenge against Mrs. Clinton.
“The case I would make is that 2006 needs to be a year of reckoning for Republicans on Iraq,” he said. “If the antiwar candidate is creamed by Hillary Clinton, it’s a distraction.”
Reading Matzzie’s statement, it’s unclear whether his desire to make 2006 “a year of reckoning for Republicans on Iraq” means that MoveOn will give all Democratic presidential candidates a pass on the war, or whether he means just Sen. Clinton. Certainly Democrats like Mark Warner, John Edwards, Evan Bayh, Joseph Biden, John Kerry, Russell Feingold, and others will be interested in the answer to that question. Meanwhile, MoveOn has been buying air time for this television ad:
A shopkeeper in Baghdad. A family in Mosul. Kurds. Shiites. Sunnis. Some are glad we came. Some aren’t. Iraqis rarely agree on anything. But, a recent poll shows that most Iraqis think our troops should leave their country.
Their election is over, yet George Bush doesn’t have an exit timeline. So it’s up to Congress to bring our troops home. Call your representative today.
As the war debate intensifies inside the Democratic party, one point that some courageous candidate will likely bring up in the next year is that yes, MoveOn opposes keeping U.S. troops in Iraq, but MoveOn also opposed the war in Afghanistan. Shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks, MoveOn founders Wes Boyd and Joan Blades circulated a petition that read, “Our leaders are under tremendous pressure to act in the aftermath of the terrible events of Sept. 11th. We the undersigned support justice, not escalating violence, which would only play into the terrorists’ hands.” Eli Pariser, who would become MoveOn’s political director, circulated a petition of his own calling on President Bush to use “moderation and restraint” in responding to 9/11 and “to use, wherever possible, international judicial institutions and international human rights law to bring to justice those responsible for the attacks, rather than the instruments of war, violence or destruction.” (Boyd and Blades were so impressed by Pariser’s work that they hired him for MoveOn.) At some point in the coming months, if, as seems likely, MoveOn’s anti-war supporters become even more passionate, and if, at the same time, there continues to be measurable progress in Iraq, some Democrat might see a political benefit in taking on MoveOn.