Most Democrats Voting For Bush Torture Bill Silent About It

by Bob Geiger, 9/30/06


As someone who spends a lot of time on the official web sites of our U.S. Senators, I can tell you without hesitation that if one of them casts a vote they are proud of, a press release will be up faster than George Felix Allen can spit out a racial slur.

Yet the 12 Democrats who checked their consciences at the Senate cloakroom and voted in favor of the Bush Administration's torture bill this week, have almost nothing to say about their votes. In case you haven't seen the roster of who voted with Republicans on this, here they are:

* Thomas Carper (D-DE)
* Tim Johnson (D-SD)
* Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
* Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
* Joe Lieberman (D-CT)
* Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
* Bill Nelson (D-FL)
* Ben Nelson (D-NE)
* Mark Pryor (D-AR)
* Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)
* Ken Salazar (D-CO)
* Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

Of these, only four have issued press releases commenting on their vote and, amazingly, those who are talking spend most of the time sounding apologetic for a vote they obviously know they should not have cast.

"I think there are some unknown constitutional issues and it may take a review by the Supreme Court before we really know whether this approach has towed the line in terms of protecting the civil-liberties of American citizens or whether it has gone over the line," said Tim Johnson (D-SD), in a brief statement that can only leave us wondering why the hell he voted for it then.
Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO) expresses a whole bunch of concerns as well and yet voted to make Bush Torturer-in-Chief anyway.

"The bill I voted for today was the best bill we could reasonably expect in this highly charged political environment," said Salazar. "Due to the many controversial and far-reaching implications of this bill, I believe it would be appropriate to force Congressional review of this bill in five years. I have concerns with this bill, but on balance it meets my personal view of what America needs to get the job done."
But some things never change, and here was the biggest DINO (Democrat in name only) in the Senate, Nebraska's Ben Nelson crowing about what a wonderful vote he cast and making this strange statement: "This compromise goes a long way in protecting the principles of the Geneva Conventions and establishes a standard of treatment that the world will follow."

Yeah, I'm sure most other countries are gathering right now to rewrite their laws to follow our sterling example.

Finally, we have Joe Lieberman, who has a press release announcing his vote and setting the bar awfully low for what it takes for him to follow George W. Bush.

"I voted for this bill because I believe it is better than the Administration's original proposal to respond to the Supreme Court's Hamdan decision," said Lieberman. "I would have much preferred the bill we reported out of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and I supported amendments to this bill because they addressed concerns I had. I regret that they were rejected by the Senate."
But Joe clearly did not regret it enough to vote the right way on the torture bill.

There's currently a big argument going on in the Progressive community on the tension between calling Democrats on stances that are so antithetical to what being a Democrat is supposed to mean and making Republicans positively gleeful by bashing our own side six weeks before a crucial election.

That's a tough call to make. But it seems reasonable to question why, on a vote that is such a bellwether on where American democracy stands in 2006, these 12 Senators cast deciding votes that they were unsure about or that, deep down, they flat-out knew were wrong.

Democratic primary voters will certainly ask that question when these Senators' terms have expired.


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