Betray Who? How One Democrat's MoveOn Vote Jumped Up to Bite Another Democrat on the Butt

05/25/2011 12:15 pm ET
  • Peter Smith Author, 'A Porch Sofa Almanac' and 'A Cavalcade of Lesser Horrors'

Norm Coleman for Senate took a full-page ad and a cheap shot at Al Franken in the September 25th issue of The Minneapolis Star Tribune. The headline on the ad is: "Ridiculous." Norm's team is evidently highly indignant that Franken called the Senate's vote, "Ridiculous."

The first paragraph (continuing from the headline) reads:

That's what Al Franken said he thought when 72 Republican and Democrat (sic) senators -- including Norm Coleman and Amy Klobuchar -- joined together to condemn's attack on an active duty military commander...

The ad makes no mention of the fact that Coleman was not outraged in the least when Republicans and their surrogate groups attacked veterans Max Cleland and John Kerry. Nor does the ad report any concern with the way George W. Bush and Karl Rove carved up former prisoner of war John McCain in South Carolina in 2000. Nor can you find any anger directed at the Bush administration for decimating the corps of "active duty" general officers who did not agree with some facet or aspect of the war in Iraq.

There are only crocodile tears over Franken calling the bipartisan-yet-ridiculous vote on MoveOn's ad "ridiculous."

You could predict Norm Coleman for Senate would posture and wring their hands. Given Coleman's record, they've got nothing else to talk about -- and besides, it is impossible to enunciate Coleman's positions on the issues clearly with your lips locked so firmly on George W. Bush's buttocks.

What is galling in all this is the way Norm Coleman for Senate was able to use Democratic senator Amy Klobuchar's vote on this matter. In voting to condemn MoveOn, she handed Norm Coleman for Senate the club with which they tried to hit Franken this morning. They whiffed, but she handed them the club, nonetheless.

This is the second time the newly-elected Klobuchar has appeared in the role of "Democratic Chicken" on the Washington stage. In July, she voted to loosen FISA constraints on the White House -- deeding away hard-won civil rights in the process.

Although it is truly the more superficial of the two votes, the MoveOn vote is perhaps the more disconcerting as well. The accusations in and around the ad ("smearing General Petraeus and undermining our troops in the field" according to the Coleman For Senate ad) are silly and political to begin with. The vote was, as Franken stated ridiculous. Buying into the sham, Senator Klobuchar gave it and Norm Coleman for Senate the appearance of credibility.

Not good. Not good at all. The junior senator from Minnesota appears to be playing not to lose rather than playing to win.

She ran for the Senate as a smart, tough county attorney. Where'd the brains and the spine go? Here in Minnesota, the prospect of five more years of such timid and stereotype-building votes is beginning to scare people.

If, as Ronald Reagan said, Republicans don't speak ill of other Republicans, then Democrats should not give Republicans ammunition to speak ill of Democrats.

This means you, Amy...