05/26/2006 03:41 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Winograd vs. Harman

There is a huge primary election in CA-36 in 10 days (June 6th), where antiwar teacher Marcy Winograd is challenging incumbent Jane Harman, one of the only Democrats who knew about Bush's secret NSA spying before the story leaked (and when it did, Jane deplored the leak -- seriously!).

The race is heating up, and there are two good stories about it in recent days: one by John Balzar in the L.A. Times, and one by Harold Meyerson in the L.A. Weekly.

These are fair-minded analyses, so those of you who don't trust my admittedly biased judgement (that Harman's support for Bush's war and silence on the Bush/Cheney NSA spying are all one should need to know to support Winograd!), can find out more by reading these two articles.

Balzar's piece is interesting, and he starts it like this:

"Jane Harman and her primary challenger, Marcy Winograd, go head to head over war, peace and the direction the party should take...Could this be -- hang on -- an election fight for the soul of the Democratic Party, a spirited thrust by the antiwar movement into the backyard of Southern California's defense industry to define just what shade of blue is blue enough these days in confronting the prolonged conflict of Iraq?"

He contrasts the two races this way:

"In sum, Winograd casts her opponent as a Bush Democrat who was too slow to challenge the president on the war, one who moved left only when challenged in the campaign...Harman, who has represented the district for six terms -- interrupted once by an unsuccessful campaign for governor -- portrays herself as a seasoned leader in the realpolitik of polarized Washington."

I've read Harold Meyerson for years, and no one understands Los Angeles politics like he does. His pieces are always worth reading, and this week's is no exception. Among other things, we learn that:

*Harman was a friend of war architect Paul Wolfowitz.

*Anti-progressive pundit Joe Klein recently weighed in on Harman's behalf.

*"It was her appearance on Meet the Press, when she expressed more concern about The New York Times' revelations of the warrantless NSA wiretaps than she did about the wiretaps themselves, that prompted an appalled Winograd to run against her."

*Harman voted to continue allowing spying in libraries!

As Meyerson puts it: "...(she was one of just two House Democrats to back the administration's efforts to monitor the records of public libraries when the Patriot Act came up for reauthorization)...".

Jane Harman knew more about the illegal NSA spying than any other Democrat, but couldn't figure out a way to force the Bush Administration to come clean about their spy lies. Unfortunately for her, Marcy Winograd was watching the news the morning Harman attacked the leak, but not the spying.

Is an upset possible? I think so, but I'm known to be a soft touch for antiwar candidates. PDA thinks so (the Progressive Democrats of America), but for some bizarre reason they seem to be the only antiwar organization putting any effort into this race.

Balzar concludes his piece with this quote from Marcy Winograd: "'We have a message that will reverberate across the country and the world,' she says. 'What is that message? Peace is possible.'"

And then, a few lines down, this quote from Rep. Harman: "Meanwhile, she says, with a tinge of exasperation, 'I strongly disagree with the idea that this is a fight for the soul of the party. The Democratic Party's soul is intact.'"

June 6th. At a ballot box near a few of you.