The Iraq-FISA Election in IL-14

by: Matt Stoller

Sun Mar 09, 2008 at 14:29


One interesting note about the FISA fight is how it is politicians from more conservative areas who are both holding the line and calling for retreat.  I won't go deeply into the Bush Dogs, 21 of whom signed a letter calling for immunity for telecom companies who broke the law.  More interestingly are people like Nancy Boyda and Bill Foster, who bravely spoke out on the issue and asked Democrats to hold the line.  Foster did so during a close fought election, and Boyda, I'm told by several reliable sources, spoke out strongly in a caucus meeting demanding that Democrats hold the line despite the advertising run against her in her district.  It is these politicians who we should laud for their work just as we criticize those who choose what is easy.

And now on to Foster, and how his race intersects with FISA and Iraq.  Blue Majority bet big on both the Robin Weirauch OH-05 special election and the Bill Foster IL-14 special election.  Weirauch lost, and Foster won..  More interestingly, the trends that Chris and I noticed in the 2006 MyDD/Courage Campaign polling project - that mentioning you are a Democrat and mentioning Iraq tend to drive support - still seem operative.  Weirauch ran an antipartisan 'Washington is broken' campaign, not mentioning Iraq in her ads and refusing to run as a Democrat.  Bill Foster, by contrast, ran with 'Businessman, Scientist, Democrat' on his web site, and put withdrawing troops from Iraq front and center in his paid media.  And the results seem fairly clear.  Weirauch did not shift her losing margin at all, whereas Foster took a district held by Speaker Dennis Hastert and won it by a clear majority.

National security was front and center in the IL-14 race, and when given the choice, even voters in a Republican district chose the Democrat because he was clear and strong on the core challenges of the Bush administration, Iraq and elite lawlessness.  Oberweis accused Foster of raising the White Flag, but it didn't work.  Now, critics of the theory of why Foster won will point to a bloody Republican primary in IL-14, arguing that Oberweis was weakened more than Latta, but there was an equally bloody primary in OH-03.  And while Latta was a better candidate than Oberweis, it's hard to imagine that could account for the entirety of the shift in IL-14 and the fact that there was no shift of margins in OH-03.  

The fact is that national security, and specifically, Iraq, is a winning formula for Democrats.  Bill Foster ran as a Democrat and ran on Iraq.  He also ran on retroactive immunity, as I noted before our endorsement:

"The President and his allies in Congress are playing politics with national security, and that's wrong.  Nobody is above the law and telecom companies who engaged in illegal surveillance should be held accountable, not given retroactive immunity.  I flatly oppose giving these companies an out for cooperating with Alberto Gonzalez on short-circuiting the FISA courts and the rule of law."

Any nonsense that Bush Dog Democrats, especially people like Melissa Bean who are in similar GOP-leaning areas need to hold the interests of telecom companies because they have to vote with their district is just cover for them enabling more power to Bush.  In Bill Foster we have a Democrat winning in a blood red district calling for a withdrawal of troops from Iraq and protection for civil liberties over fake claims of urgency by his opponent.  There can be no more crystal clear proof than taking Dennis Hastert's district that the Republican fear fear fear message does not work as long as it is called out by strong and forceful Democrats.

Democrats should hold firm on issues like FISA and Iraq, not just because it's the right thing to do but because that is precisely what voters are clearly demanding.  And candidates should run on these issues; Iraq is not off the table, voters don't like lawbreaking from their leaders, and everyone wishes George Bush had never happened.

Matt Stoller :: The Iraq-FISA Election in IL-14

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UHC! (0.00 / 0)
He also ran on Universal Health Care. This should send a strong message to all blue dogs that the time for cowering should come to an end.

You beat me to it. (0.00 / 0)
He also stated that global climate change is real and critical, and advocated, among other things, redirected government subsidies and tax breaks away from the oil business and toward renewable energy and energy independence.

He is a fiscal conservative, OTOH, who believes paying down the Bush debt is essential.

Also significant is that he had a strong endorsement from Obama and ran Obama's video on the front page of his website. I think his victory says something about Obama's coattails in the general election. It says still more about how Dems can win even unlikely races by just telling the straight truth about where you stand.  


[ Parent ]
Obama doesn't endorse UHC so I am not sure how again (0.00 / 0)
that's applicable.

[ Parent ]
Obama does endorse UHC (0.00 / 0)
He just wants to see a people powered movement that can "force" his hand into doing it. imho

Jeff Wegerson

[ Parent ]
I am not a Republican (0.00 / 0)
I point that out to say that using that language with me is a waste of your time and mine.

Compared to the GOP, Obama's plan is 100 times better, but it's not UHC. It's that simple. Clinton plans, regardless of its flaws, at least accepts the concept of UHC.

Mind you, what's interesting often to me about the Obama supporters argument against Clinton or Edwards plan is that it is often the perfect as the enemy of the good or okay. You argue it's an imperfect plan. What's a perfect one?

I asked that of an Obama supporter offline. Asked the same of many online too. I amazed to hear or read them say single payer. Talk about no choices, and talk about mandates. It's a bizzare conversation. I am not sure if you are member of that subset of supporters, but some of the arguments made, to get around the fact that at least 15 million people will be without health care even if Obama's plan is perefectly executed, are just perfect as the enemy of the good. I won't regurgitate the free rider plans or how this helps companies like Walmart screw over their already beleaguered workers. I will just say your rhectoric is nicely manipulative, but only will work on the general population which might not know any better. So take comfort, you may win, but not for any real discusison fo the issue you are bringing up.  


[ Parent ]
I'm at a bit of a loss as to (0.00 / 0)
where to respond. Your comment appears (to me) to present many different lines of thought for consideration. So perhaps some introduction of myself is in order for you to have something to go on as to my views.

There are things I like about Obama and there are things I don't like. There are things I like about Clinton and there are things I don't like. I am from Illinois so that tips any balance towards Obama. At the moment my approach is better the devil I don't know than the one I do. Not a rational approach I am quite aware.

I'm unclear why you felt it necessary to declare that you are not a Republican. But in that vein I will state than I am not a British Tory nor a Stalinist.

I favor the idea of single-payer while I realize that that will be insufficient by itself to reign in health care costs. So therefore I support even more "government 'intrevention'" in health care. I am a fan of government, the more so the more democratic (small d) that it is. I pretty much recognize this country to be ruled as a plutocracy.

Thank you for the compliment that my rhetoric is nicely manipulative. As for the rest after that compliment I really do not understand its meaning.

Jeff Wegerson


[ Parent ]
Definitionally you r argument is manipulative (0.00 / 0)
It depends on one not knowing the definition of single payer and what it entails, for example. When you say "force" in quotations as if single payer isn't a series of mandates. You don't offer any real differences, but the listener who is ignorant of single payer versus UHC might think that you are.

[ Parent ]
By the way, just to be fair (0.00 / 0)
Let's assume you aren't being manipulative. Then I must conclude you don't know that single payer is a series  of mandates and would be against the "force" involved in such a system?  

[ Parent ]
I am in favor the required participation (0.00 / 0)
in a health care system just like there is a required participation in the social security system and the defense system.

And I am willing to state so for the record and to anyone I am talking to, so as they understand me. Feel free to use "mandated" if you like, but yes, that is the price we pay to live in a governed society. Since it is impractical to live outside of governed societies, it behooves one to make them as democratic as possible and practicable.

It's what makes all of those kinds of systems cost effective and workable, that we are all required to support them whether we use or agree with them or not. I am not a libertarian nor an anachrist, just as you are not a Republican. (Or am I mixing you up with bruh21 over in MyDD).

Jeff Wegerson


[ Parent ]
Response (0.00 / 0)
While I disagree with the Libertarian Democrat (Think Kos) arguments against Clinton's plan, they made sense when they argued people shouldn't be 'forced' because their application of what they meant by force was definitionally clear.

Here the use of the word 'force' seems like a prop you pull out against perceived threats to your candidate rather than something you actually mean. If you do mean it, then I don't understand your definition.

Don't feel bad. When I asked my friend to define what he means by 'force' considering he supports single payer he did what you did- changed the subject to the virtues of government. An issue that is not the subject of controversy in this discussion since we as Democrats (versus libertarians or Republicans or even Libertarian leaning Democrats) agree on the role of government.

It seems, correct me if I am wrong, you aren't against force so long as it meets your definition of the perfect system, but you are against 'force' when its not a perfect system. Indeed, the underlying goals of UHC is okay to avoid if we don't meet your perfect system.

For the record, I am not against single payer although I did prefer edwards plan as the perfect Trojan Horse toward such a system. I just don't accept the false choice of perfect as the enemy of the good. It's ironic you mention SS and medicaid. The history of GOP resistance to those programs were perfect as the enemy of the good arguments. Well you can't guarantee that welfare will end ALL poverty so it's a horrible program. It's "govern' force.

Finally, why does it matter who I am? Does your answer change if I say I am someone else?  


[ Parent ]
I suspect that we are talking past each other here (0.00 / 0)
a bit. For the record you misquoted me literally but within the spirit of my statement. You said medicaid where I said defense.

I'm glad you sound like you are comfortable with required ("forced" your word) single-payer. I am beginning to think that our differences are semantic rather than a difference of goals. As long as the means are honest I really don't care how we get to UHC. Personally I care little to none about the differences between Obama and Clinton's approaches to UHC. Both are too timid for my liking.

And actually I care little about what labels you use to describe yourself. I put those out there as short-cut aids in understanding where you are coming from.

Some of your language takes some getting used to I suspect. Your concerns about 'force' and 'the good vs the perfect' and 'Trojan Horses' struck me as provocative. So I have taken the time to better understand you and I am myself more comfortable with your intentions even if your approaches may differ from my own preferences.

That said, there may be others here who care not to take the time to parse your meanings carefully and may assume differences with you where none may actually exist. For that reason you may want to spend more time trying to figure out how they express their intentions, especially with an eye to seeing if they really are congruent with your own, but merely appear to differ because of differences in language approaches. If that makes any sense :)

Jeff Wegerson


[ Parent ]
Now I am confused (0.00 / 0)
Your first response to me used the word "force" in quoation marks when the other poster was tauting Obama's plan as UHC.  Under the context,  the common response by some Obama supporters is that UHC as defined by Clinton/Edwards is "force."

If this wasn't an attempt by you to emphasize 'force' for the way it is used in the healthcare mandate discussion then it was an inadvertant misunderstanding on my part about why you placed 'force' in quotes.

Under the context you should know that this language about "force" does have meaning in the healthcare debates over mandates. The argument is often stated as Obama wants people to gradually  come to UHC (similar to what you wrote), and consequently he wants them to have choice, but Clinton does not.  She wants to force people who can not afford it to have healthcare insurance. That's a paraphrase.  

Often times, by some Obama supporters it couched as the ads that torepedoed the Clinton attempts at reform in the 1990s -- I believe they are called the Harry and Loiuse ads. It's not merely my language. "Force" is the center of the discussion, and is a central argument of the right. It's the central argument regarding personal responsibility.

"Perfect as the enemy of the good" is also a fairly commonly understood term. The example I gave of the GOP again was referencing language that Obama and many of his supporters should know, even if you personally, do not.  It's important to know this because then it lets you know context about what tactics they will use to try to defeat you, and what tactics you should be leery of  using because it may later come back to haunt you.

And as for "trojan horse" that's a common literary term. It's not something I've made up on the spot. There is nothing particularly provacative about it in the context in which I used it.


[ Parent ]
My bad (0.00 / 0)
I reread my original comment. What I meant was that we, us progressives and other regular folk will likely need to 'force' Obama to do the right thing, which is single payer. Now realistically we will not be able to pull it off, but I bet if we could that Obama would run with it. (And really Clinton as well should she win.)

I apologize for my own carelessness in my comments.

The right wing and their arguments will/would not withstand the desire of the public for a good single-payer system should we be able to get 'our' leadership behind it. That's true for both  C and O. Here on this forum I don't think we even need discuss the rights concerns. We should focus on how to get our leadership behind what 70% of the U.S. wants, which is affordable universal health care.  

Jeff Wegerson


[ Parent ]
Foster had a primary fight as well. (0.00 / 0)
Now, critics of the theory of why Foster won will point to a bloody Republican primary in IL-14, arguing that Oberweis was weakened more than Latta, but there was an equally bloody primary in OH-03.

Indeed there will likely be a recount by the Laesch forces to put Laesch on the ballot as the Democrat in November. It was not as bloody in the media because Laesch lacked the resources and because the media finds the Republican fights in that district more interesting. But there was still a fight.

Of course, Foster was probably strengthened by the fight.

Jeff Wegerson


Seriously (0.00 / 0)
This stuff should be emailed to the DCCC and DSCC, as evidence that running as a Democrat, and running to the left, WORKS!

Former Edwards Supporter, Obama Supporter since January 30, 2008

They were (0.00 / 0)
They were following the race pretty damn closely. The DCCC (or DNC?) was running ads for Foster.

The real question is what kind of lesson they'll learn. I don't really think they've figured it out quite yet, but between primary challenges like Donna Edwards' and wins like Foster's, I hope they'll come around, if a little slowly.

People hate Bush, they hate Iraq, and they are open to the idea that big corporations are responsible for their economic problems, or at least making out like bandits while everyone else suffers. Populist, anti-Bush campaigns can win in red districts, and I sincerely hope that they figure it out before they blow the 2008 elections.

I support John McCain because children are too healthy anyway.


[ Parent ]
Apparently the DCCC Robo Calls were counter-productive (0.00 / 0)
Here:
Yesterday while election judging I heard a voter comment that his wife had vowed to vote for the person who had called her the least! I don't know if he was joking or not but I do understand the sentiment. I kind of got a kick out of hearing Obama's voice but not Bill's or Christine's recorded messages and I HATED the negative robocalls from DCCC. Give me a live one or don't call me at all, please!


Jeff Wegerson

[ Parent ]
That whole "don't mention you're a Democrat" tactic (0.00 / 0)
is one of the most absurd examples of myopic consultant idiocy out there, in that it really insults people's intelligence, plainly backfiring in the process. If you're running against the Republican, you're most likely the Democrat. Oftentimes even those who do cross over because of their dislike for the other party rather than any affinity for us, are well aware who they're voting for... you're not gonna fool many people into thinking you're an actual independent candidate. In fact, simply seeing the word Democrat drives it home swiftly and succinctly to anyone dissatisfied with their current/former Republican rep. On the other hand, the only result of this partyless strategy is to muddy the waters and remove one of the most salient factors from your candidate's profile.

When Dems bled voters in the 80's and 90's it wasn't because the Republicans were tricking them into thinking they were Democrats, that's for sure.


OH-05 (0.00 / 0)
One correction: Democrat Robin Weirauch's special election race against Republican Bob Latta was in OH-05 (rural area surrounding Toledo in Northwest Ohio).

Weirauch received the support of both Senator Sherrod Brown and Governor Ted Strickland -- both of whom won in OH-05. This should have been as good as Obama's endorsement.

I think her campaign lacked fire and specifics. But also note that her biography (college administrator) is not nearly as impressive as Foster (successful businessman and physicist) -- she was a strong candidate, but not nearly as strong as Foster. But I think she could have made up for this by having a clear critique of Iraq, FISA, and Republican corruption.


Fleeing from FISA (0.00 / 0)
It's really quite simple: If you argue that you have to vote for retroactive immunity because of your district, you need to explain why your district favours lawbreaking. Further, those of them with enforcement-only plans on immigration need to explain why telecom companies should have more rights.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

Use Caution Extrapolating IL-14 Results Nationally (0.00 / 0)
Matt and Glenn Greenwald and a whole lot of other progressive bloggers have made much of what the IL-14 special election results say to Dems about strategy, apparently without any attention to the role that the political history of (R) candidate Jim Olberweis, a wing-nut extraordinaire and perennial Republican candidate for office in Illinois, must have played in the race.

Olberweis is a bit of a laughing-stock in his party with little real support beyond the anti-gay, anti-choice fanatical fringe.  He's famous for fake news headlines and other unethical kinds of negative campaigning, and is outspokenly anti-choice, anti-gay (Olberweis even opposes civil unions), and opposed to affirmative action.  I think a more interesting analysis would be what it says about the state of the Republican party in Illinois when somebody like Olberweis is allowed to be the Republican candidate in such a show-case race as this one.  

"Ignorance is the most dangerous element in any society." - Emma Goldman


Bean!! (0.00 / 0)
"Any nonsense that Bush Dog Democrats, especially people like Melissa Bean who are in similar GOP-leaning areas need to hold the interests of telecom companies because they have to vote with their district is just cover for them enabling more power to Bush."

Thank God, someone gets it.

At this stage of the game, we are better off supporting Republicans than wasting another dime on people like Melissa Bean.

Bloggers like Markos keep telling their readers that any (D) is better than a Republican.  As a result, we get people like Bean who will vote with the Republicans every chance they get -- in the case, Bean is pro-war, pro-tax breaks for the wealthy, etc.  She voted for government intervention in the Schiavo mess, she wants to eliminate the estate tax, she voted to change the bankruptcy laws -- in other words, every chance she can she votes with the the most conservative elements of the Republican Party.

Melissa Bean ran as a Democrat not because she is in fact a Democrat but because that was the opportunity that presented itself.  Had Crane been a Democrat Bean would have run as a Bush loving Republican instead.

It is not good enough now to have "enough" Democrats in the Congress.  Now, we need Congressmen who will pass progressive legislation -- whether they are Democrats or Republicans.  Melissa Bean represents the Zell Miller wing of the party.  Better to let her die on the vine and be defeated by a Republican in '08.  As I understand it, there will be another election in 10 or 12 or 14 -- and maybe then the district could be represented by someone with character, morals and dignity.


You are so right, my friend. (0.00 / 0)
The other half of actively supporting primary challenges to Bush dogs is total indifference to the fate of Bush dog incumbents against Repigs.  There are just too many contests nationwide to bother about Bush dogs, anymore than they bother about us. This is why I no longer give any money to the DCCC or the DSCC, or even to most of the liberal social action organizations, except for targets of opportunity by the last named.  They give some of it to Bush dogs.  I would rather just throw the money up in the air and watch it blow away than give it to a Bush dog.  My tightly limited funds make it necessary to support only accurately targeted political races.  Part time Democrat don't get it. This is the one thing about Open Left that makes it indispensible. This website is one of the only, if not the only website which looks at things in terms of progressive movement building.

Thanks to all who make it happen!


[ Parent ]
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