The Race to Fill Ted Kennedy’s Senate Seat

Rep. Michael Capuano, Hawk Among Hawks

In a scene replicated all over the country, a small, dispirited crowd protested on Boston Common following Obama’s West Point declaration of more war on the unfortunate people of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Obama intends to out-Bush Bush on AfPak, which has finally thrown some cold water on his supporters.

The large printed placards ordered up for the demo called for an end to the war on AfPak, but only three scraggily handmade signs mentioned Obama. The speeches ordained by the organizers also made scant mention of Obama, with two exceptions, one from Vets Against the War and another with Military Families Speak Out. When one guy took advantage of an open mike, not readily yielded to him, to criticize both Obama and the antiwar leadership of UFPJ, “Progressive” Democrats of America and their bedfellows, there was a quiet over the crowd, the only speech without at least token applause. One could only wonder where this “movement” was headed next.

A clue came if one listened to the buzz on the sidelines. It was all about another election — the Democrat Party primary this coming Tuesday to fill the Senate seat of the late Ted Kennedy. Each of the candidates has taken up an antiwar mantra as the polls have shown that the people of Massachusetts want no more of this game of Empire in Central Asia. Michael Capuano, Congressional Rep. from the Cambridge/Somerville/Boston area had the early lead in establishing his antiwar bona fides since he did vote against the Iraq war in his early days in Congress. But is he really a dove? Are Dems with antiwar constituencies like Capuano’s in Cambridge genuinely against war and Empire? The answer is “no,” and every now and then a vote comes along which shows how it all works.

One such crucial vote came in the winter of 2007, shortly after the Dems took control of the House in the elections of 2006 on a tidal wave of antiwar sentiment. Bush was at that time requesting another supplement for the wars on Central Asia, and the Democrats had inserted a dreaded “timeline” into the appropriation bill. This led the Republicans to vote against the bill, and if they were joined by enough Dems, then funding of the wars would end at that moment. A golden opportunity if ever there was one. Faced with this potential debacle Nancy Pelosi scrambled to get all the Dems to vote for the bill to fund the war. Every vote was needed. What did Capuano do? What did other “antiwar” Dems of the Mass Congressional delegation do? The entire delegation voted for the bill, as Pelosi instructed, including Michael Capuano, James McGovern, Barney Frank –- every one of the Mass delegation, the most “liberal” delegation in Congress. There were only nine Dems who stood up to Pelosi that day — Dennis Kucinich, Maxine Waters, Lynne Woolsey, Barbara Lee were among the nine who voted against war that day. If the bill had only ONE more opponent, the funding would have been cut off, so close was the vote. But that lone vote did not materialize from the Mass delegation (including Michael Capuano). So the funding bill passed, and war was alive and well.

That is the way the game is played. So long as the war machine does not need the vote of Congressmen with strong antiwar constituencies, then they are free to cast a vote to mollify their voters. But when the chips are down and every vote is needed, the charade is called to a halt and these counterfeit progressives cast their votes as instructed by Pelosi or whatever gauleiter happens to be in charge at the moment. Thus the Empire rules by demanding loyalty to one of the two War Parties over the will of antiwar constituents. Of course this emerges even more clearly in Presidential elections when each and every Dem, even the nine mavericks of Winter 2007, Kucinich, Woolsey, Waters etc. line up to dutifully support prowar candidates like Kerry or Obama.

As the late Eugene McCarthy pointed out long ago in 1968 in the snows of New Hampshire, drawing on words of Daniel Webster, wars of Empire continue because the people’s “representatives” put loyalty to Party over loyalty to the people and to principle. Thus the Vietnam War ground on, and thus does the U.S. Empire’s deadly game in Central Asia continue.

So what should the voters of Massachusetts do? The antiwar misleaders like “P”DA are urging a vote for Capuano, without any trace of shame after leading people into the Obama camp and into more war. They should be crimson faced to even offer an endorsement so soon after their man Obama’s Tuesday speech. All the Dems are in effect prowar, as Capuano and McGovern proved in the vote of 2007. So it would seem that the only principled thing to do is not to vote for any of them. No Dem deserves a vote after Obama’s West Point speech. Say no to Empire, and stay home by a warm fire.

John V. Walsh, @JohnWal97469920, until recently a Professor of Physiology and Neuroscience at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School, has written on issues of peace and health care for several independent media. Read other articles by John V..

4 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on December 7th, 2009 at 11:35am #

    I have concluded long time ago, that no protest wld ever even delay a US war let alone prevent or stop it once under way.
    A protest to prevent next US war wld have to involve at least 70mn amers. And even that might not do unless it involved massive passive resistance; i’e., people shld also do s’mthing and not just speech, shout, and march.

    An effective protest shl be also held at churches and small businesses. The middle class and churches solidly support wars of aggression. True, even at that churches may still support all US present and future wars but at least they wld not be left unchastized.

    If middle classes lose business because they support wars, they may change their minds because money to them comes before anything else; including allegience to US warlords and feudal lords.

  2. Annie Ladysmith said on December 7th, 2009 at 11:22pm #

    O! DEAR!, O! MY! WHERE TO FIND SOMEONE TO FILL ED’S SEAT. i suppose it is really difficult to find a FAT, ALCOHOLIC, SCUMBAG POLITICIAN in Yankee Doodle land. I feel very badly for the MORONS of Mass. that loved to elect that Bastard year in and year out for the last 50-60 years. Yeah, they will never find a sleezbucket like that guy again, may he not rest in peace, and those Yankees who voted for him all those years, can go to hell with him.

  3. Martha said on December 8th, 2009 at 8:59am #

    Agree bozh. And am always thrilled to read John V. Walsh’s pieces.

  4. bozh said on December 8th, 2009 at 11:39am #

    Marching-protesting can be likened onto plowing and plowing but never sowing. That may be why so many prominent ‘jews’ et al lead protests. At least some of these leaders know that protests, holding signs or placcards, marching are useless and especially in view that less than one % of people protests.

    What prez, who is bound by the constitution to wage wars, is gonna fear them? If amers cld change/emend the constitution the HOUSE OR HORRORS may crumble but not before.
    So, smthing must also be done and not just criticised-lamented. Probably the best way is to establish a second party in US. Which, eventualy, in decades or centuries might be able to appoint own interpreters of the constitution.
    For that’s what any constitution is, an interpretative document! And as long as “they” interpret it, expect more wars and more misery and death for also innocent US soldiers and not just own lower classes. tnx