Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Wilson Makes It Official

In a press conference today at Cantwell 2006 headquarters on Lake Union, Mark Wilson made his endorsement of Maria official:
"Senator Cantwell has time and again stood, face in the wind of adversity, and persevered for us and for our Northwest values.

My conviction is that supporting Senator Cantwell and helping her win this November is the surest way to winning for us all."
The campaign announced that Wilson will be hired to work for the campaign full time to reach out to the "peace and justice community" (as Wilson put it).

Cantwell and Wilson at Press Conference

Cantwell and Wilson fielded questions from several reporters who wanted to know how Wilson could go from being a major critic of Cantwell's to a major supporter. As I see it, it's really very simple: they came to a mutual understanding.

Wilson doesn't have to compromise his principles to support Cantwell - and neither do we. We oppose the administration's waging of an illegal war, its invasion of our privacy, and its underhanded attempts to roll back worker and environmental protections.

Maria doesn't always vote the way we'd like her to on the floor of the U.S. Senate, but a majority of the time, she does vote the progressive position. And she has been a tremendous fighter for the people of the Evergreen State. That's why we support her.

Seattle Times chief political reporter David Postman was also at the press conference - and wanted to know if Cantwell had changed her position on Iraq:
Cantwell was clear -- at least as clear as she could be in the very short time allowed for questions at what was billed as a "major campaign announcement" -- that she has not changed her position on Iraq. She said recent statements she has made and the recent Senate vote calling for troop withdrawal beginning this year have been "a reaffirmation for people of what I've been saying."
While what Senator Cantwell said is true, it's also true that her position on Iraq has been slowly evolving over the last few months and even years.

UPDATE: David Postman quotes me at his blog over at the Seattle Times and asks, "How can both those things be true?" Guess I should have been more in-depth.

What I meant is that there's never been this monumental shift in the way Cantwell views the war in Iraq. I think that's what she means - and that's how I interpret her - when she says her position has not changed.

I don't believe there's an activist, pundit, or politician out there whose views on the Iraq War have not evolved. I know mine certainly have.

I've always opposed the war (as has everyone in NPI) and I still do now - but as I've read, watched, and learned more about the neocons' reasons for going over there, my perspective has changed. New information, like the Downing Street Memo, has deepened my understanding of this quagmire.

And I believe the same is true of Senator Maria Cantwell. Her thinking, her viewpoint is undoubtedly quite a bit different from what it was back in 2002 when she voted to authorize the war. She can say her position hasn't changed - and that can be true - despite that it surely has changed since that vote.

There's just never been a monumental shift. And that is perhaps what frustrates many antiwar activists. They just want to Cantwell come out now and condemn the war loudly, declare her vote was a mistake, and support an immediate pullout.

She's not going to do that. But if activists are willing to be patient and continue to engage Sen. Cantwell - during and after the campaign, assuming she wins (and we're going to make that happen!) I believe they will be rewarded. The message has been getting through. It just needs to continue being sent.

END UPDATE

That's true of a lot of other Democrats who voted for the war authorization but are saying these days that they oppose giving the administration a blank check and support a transition plan to hand over control of Iraq to the Iraqis.

As Wilson told his supporters yesterday:
I have had a deep and personal one-on-one conversation with Senator Cantwell. I came away convinced we are on the same path when it comes to solving the crisis in Iraq and the potential crisis with Iran.

We agree there must be no permanent American military bases in Iraq.
It's worth remembering that the pressure on Democrats to give the administration the authorization to wage war in 2002 was absolutely tremendous.

Democrats were trapped in a hostile environment and presented with false information, included cherrypicked intelligence from the Bush administration which was extensively propped up by the traditional media during the prelude to the invasion. (For more on this, see Eric Boehlert's new book - Lapdogs: How the Press Rolled Over For Bush).

The right wing used its powerful political infrastructure to intimidate many Democrats into supporting the war authorization. Cooperation from the traditional media certainly helped to seal the deal.

Despite the antiwar movement's best efforts, and opposition from a number of top American military officials, the administration succeeded in getting Congressional approval for the invasion and then going ahead and invading Iraq with very little international support.

In the years since then, the traditional media has become much more critical of the administration, the progressive movement has built a much stronger infrastructure (in large part through the Netroots Revolution), and the American people have witnessed firsthand for themselves the failure of right wing, conservative policies.

Consequently, it's much easier today for Democrats in Congress to find their political courage and challenge the administration.

Progressives are sick and tired of the Republicans who have set and kept the United States of America on the road to ruin. We need to win back control of Congress in 2006 so that we can change our country's direction.

But just as importantly, we need to win so we can show the traditional media and the right wing that the progressive movement is a force to be reckoned with. We want Democrats in Washington D.C. to look to us for support and know that we've got their backs when they come under attack by the other side.

We won't win unless we unite and get our act together. Mark Wilson understands how important it is that we be victorious in the elections this year. That's why he's joined us in throwing his weight behind Team Cantwell. We strongly applaud his move and hope his supporters will follow suit.

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