I live in New York. I called my Senators and Representative.
I called Senator Hillary Clinton's office to ask how she was going to vote on the Iraq supplemental appropriations bill without benchmarks. The staffer at the other end of the line said she was studying the bill.
The rest of the conversation went like this, and I swear on my parents' graves that it's true.
Q: She voted for the war and now she doesn't want to vote to get out of it?
Clinton's Staffer: Yes.
Q: Let me be clear about that, you just said, 'Yes'?
Clinton's Staffer: Yes, I can pass your comments on to her.
Q: I just want to be clear, she voted for the war and now she doesn't want to get out of it, and you said 'Yes.'
Clinton's Staffer: Yes.
I started by calling her New York City office. There I was told to look on the website. I said there was nothing about on the website. The staffer then told me she wouldn't know the Senator's positions, they find them by looking on the website. I said that was pretty odd, that her own staff has to look there to find her positions. She told me to call the Washington office, where the conversation above took place.
Like Hillary, his local offices don't answer the phone (Albany) or don't know his positions (New York City). His Washington staffer said that the local offices ought to know and ought to be able to respond. Which was something, and better than Clinton's operation. However, as to Schumer's position, he is (and I am now paraphrasing) checking for responses, I presume from his constituents, before deciding.
I said doesn't he have any principles? Any positions? I think it's one of the most cowardly and disappointing moments in the history of the Democratic Party.
The staffer said she would pass my comments on.
Profile in Courage and Competence: Maurice Hinchey
I called the congressman's Kingston office. I said, "Maurice is going to vote against this Iraq supplemental appropriations bill, isn't he?"
The local staffer said, "Yes."
She knew! And he was taking a position! Neither one surprised me. Congressman Hinchey takes positions. He's clear and bold and well spoken.
That's what's happening in my state and district. What's happening in yours?
Larry Beinhart is the author of Wag the Dog, The Librarian, and Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin. All available at nationbooks.org