Wednesday, September 12, 2007

"Woolsey calls for attacks on colleagues"

The Hill:
Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) is encouraging anti-war activists to find challengers to centrist Democrats, with the aim of moving the party to the left and ramping up opposition to the war in Iraq, to the chagrin of top Democratic aides.

“You folks should go after the Democrats,” Woolsey said in response to a suggestion from an activist during a conference call last month organized by the Network of Spiritual Progressives.

“I’d hate to lose the majority, but I’m telling you, if we don’t stand up to our responsibility, maybe that’s the lesson to be learned.”
Democratic leaders have yet to punish Woolsey for her stance, but their aides were irked by and dismissive of Woolsey’s remarks.

“The political reality is that the real targets of the outside groups should be Republicans who have so far refused to join the overwhelming majority of Democrats in voting for a change of course in Iraq,” a top aide said.

The editor of the liberal magazine Tikkun (which means “to repair the world” in Hebrew), Rabbi Michael Lerner, posted a lightly edited transcript at the Network of Spiritual Progressives’ website.

Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) also participated in the conference call, telling activists that any military success in Iraq is “unworthy of the sacrifice of military families.”

Moran continued that the sacrifice was “unworthy … [because] the end result is going to be Shiite theocracy … closely aligned with Iran.”

Moran’s statement could leave him vulnerable to criticism, but he is not the only one making such a suggestion.

Several high-profile politicians have been criticized for implying, saying or misspeaking that U.S. soldiers have died in vain.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), a leading presidential candidate, apologized and said he misspoke earlier this year when he said troops’ lives had been “wasted.”

Despite the heated rhetoric, the call shed light on the frustration of anti-war groups, which must work with a Democratic majority that faces limited control in the Senate, as well as a Republican president.

The activists strongly criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for failing to meet with them and not doing enough to stop funding the war. Moran pushed back, arguing that Pelosi’s heart was with them but that she was constrained by political reality within the House Democratic Caucus and the Senate.

“We’ve got too many risk-averse members,” Moran said. “[Pelosi] really is trying. She doesn’t have the votes; she doesn’t even have the complete support of some of the leadership.

“If you heard the caucuses that are not public and could hear the arguments that she makes to sway some of the conservative members, I think you’d be much more impressed with her.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday told reporters at the White House that “We apologize to no one” for efforts to stop the war, which have so far have been unsuccessful.

Pelosi blamed Senate Republicans for forcing Reid to get 60 votes to pass legislation to change the mission in Iraq.

Moran expressed his displeasure with centrist and freshman Democrats unwilling to do more to yank funding to prosecute the war in Iraq, but he forcefully defended Pelosi and he did not favor challenging Democrats in primaries.

Moran suggested that Democrats target Republicans in Democratic-leaning districts, of which there are only eight.

Fifty-eight Democrats represent districts President Bush won in 2004.

The eight Republicans are Reps. Christopher Shays (Conn.), Mike Castle (Del.), Jim Gerlach (Pa.), Mark Kirk (Ill.), Charlie Dent (Pa.), James Walsh (N.Y.), Heather Wilson (N.M.), and Dave Reichert (Wash.).

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