Earlier today, Chris Bowers reported that the co-chair of the Progressive Caucus in the House, Lynn Woolsey, was headlining a fundraiser in Venice, CA for Blue Dog Jane Harman, who is facing a primary from the left against progressive challenger Marcy Winograd.
(Full disclosure: I was asked to be a co-chair for this fundraiser. I said no.)
Aarrgghhh!! Come on Progressive Caucus!! A little help? Even Progressive Caucus leaders are supporting Blue Dogs in primaries against prospective Progressives? Do the Progs even want to have more influence in Congress?
This is not even to mention that Jane Harman is the third wealthiest member of Congress, with a net worth of $112 million. She doesn’t need any additional funding for her re-election campaign–she could self-fund another 20 re-election efforts. What she needs is progressive credibility to cover up her Blue Dog membership and past endorsements from Republicans. In that regard, Progressive Caucus Co-chair Lynne Woolsey is happy to deliver.
Well, it’s one thing to show up to a fundraiser. It’s quite another to write a fundraising letter smearing the progressive challenger. But that’s exactly what has been done.
FDL News has obtained a letter from the desk of Henry Waxman (D-CA), sent to some of his prior donors, criticizing controversial remarks made by Winograd last year about America’s relationship to Israel, calling them “repugnant in the extreme”. Here is a taste of that letter (I only have a hard copy):
To me, the notion that a Member of Congress could hold these views is alarming. Ms. Winograd is far, far outside the bipartisan mainstream of views that has long insisted that US policy be based upon rock-solid support for our only democratic ally in the Middle East.
In Marcy Winograd’s foreign policy, Israel would cease to exist. In Marcy Winograd’s vision, Jews would be at the mercy of those who do not respect democracy or human rights. These are not trivial issues; they cannot be ignored or overlooked. Jane’s victory will represent a clear repudiation of these views.
Waxman, a member of the Progressive Caucus, closes by asking readers to contribute “maximum support” for Harman, and says that he has already done so through his federal campaign and PAC. The letter was paid for by Jane Harman’s campaign.
Among the lines that Waxman pulls out of Winograd’s 2009 speech is “As a Jew, I do not want my name or country associated with occupation or extermination.” Winograd, a history teacher and a co-founder of LA Jews for Peace, would offer an astoundingly different perspective than what Waxman rightly says is a bipartisan consensus on Israel.
In fact, just to show the logical leaps that can be made to meet with that consensus, at a recent town hall meeting, Waxman was asked by a Winograd supporter if he would visit Palestinian refugee camps. While agreeing to do so, he said that he didn’t understand why Arab nations wouldn’t release Palestinian refugees into their own countries, and upon hearing that they didn’t want to upset the delicate balances among ethnicities and religions in their home countries, he added, “These people should be treated like human beings. Palestinians should be allowed to come back – not to Israel, because they would overwhelm the population – but they should be allowed to come back to these countries.”
Forget for a second the very knotty nature of Israel/Palestine policy; why is Progressive Caucus member Henry Waxman asking for max donations to a Blue Dog running against a prospective Progressive in an adjacent district? It’s a powerful example of the incumbency advantage – for an incumbent who possesses a small fortune and really needs progressive cover more than money.
UPDATE: Winograd addressed the Waxman letter at the website LA Progressive. You can see her response there. An excerpt:
On the domestic front, you have advocated for the protection of constitutional rights. It is therefore disconcerting to learn that you would lend your name and financial support to a woman who lobbied the New York Times to suppress reports of the Bush administration’s crimes involving illegal wiretapping and who ultimately became the chief Democratic Party defender of those unconstitutional methods [...]
In your letter, you include what you term an “alarming’ quote of mine – “As a Jew, I do not want my name associated with occupation or extermination.” Frankly, I am mystified as to why you would find my words objectionable. Surely, you are not saying the converse is true – that you want Jewish people associated with occupation and extermination. Such a legacy would dishonor our people.