Thursday, June 18, 2009

Fear! Perriello Hides Terrorists Under Your Bed (updated)

So, today Rep. Perriello voted against an amendment (H.Amdt 220 to HR 2847) that would have prohibited the use of funds to close down Guantanamo. Here is the actual amendment, introduced by Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA):
An amendment numbered 118 printed in the Congressional Record to prohibit the use of funds to implement Executive Order 13492, issued January 22, 2009, titled "Review and Disposition of Individuals Detained at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and Closure of Detention Facilities".
The amendment failed, 213-212, mainly across party lines. So, the Republicans, along with 30 Democrats, were basically voting to keep Guantanamo Bay open, and Perriello and others voted to fund its closure. President Obama campaigned on the base's closure, an election he won, you might recall. Guantanamo Bay is a stain on our international reputation, the mere existence of which fuels terrorist recruitment. Closing this base sends a strong and clear signal to the Muslim world and strengthens our relationships overseas, both providing national security implications.

Two Republican blogs picked up this vote and several memes transpired. Tom voted with his BFF, Nancy Pelosi, to bring terrorists to Virginia, and Tom cast the deciding vote on this amendment. Here's Bearing Drift, emphasis mine:
Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA05) has just cast the deciding vote to bring Guantanamo Bay detainees to Virginia. According to a Capitol Hill source:

Rep. Perriello just voted with Speaker Pelosi on an amendment to allow for funds to close Guantanamo Bay facility and move those detainees to Virginia. Perriello voted against an amendment, offered by Rep. Lewis of California, that would have prohibited the closure - the amendment failed 212-213 with Mr. Perriello casting the deciding vote.

Next up, Virginia Virtucon with a little more commentary, emphasis mine:
Soon-to-be-one-term-former U.S. Reps. Tom Perriello and Gerry “The Big Doofus” Connolly just cast the deciding votes on an amendment offered by Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), H.AMDT.220 to H.R.2847, that would have prohibited funds to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and prevent those detainees from being move to places like, oh… VIRGINIA!!! The Lewis amendment failed 212-213 and Perriello and Connolly voted with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the people of the Commonwealth. ... How someone like Perriello who describes himself as a “National Security Analyst” could cast such a boneheaded vote is beyond me. ...
Now that's message discipline, almost like they read the same talking points.

You read the amendment. It doesn't necessarily mention bringing detainees to the United States, let alone Virginia. We are in negotiations with other nations to take some of these detainees (1, 2, 3), but likely, many will end up within our borders. In super-max facilities. You know the facilities that hold terrorists like Timothy McVeigh (before his execution), Terry Nichols, Ted Kaczynski, and Richard Reid. They never escaped, and we haven't heard from them since. For a party that relishes in its tough-on-crime credentials, this Republican fear-mongering belittles both our prison facilities and our prison guards, as if they are sleeping imbeciles guarding a lego fort.

With a cast of 213 Congresspeople, all 213, it could be said, cast the deciding vote. To lay the ultimate and final vote on Perriello is disinginuous and plays opportunistic political gotcha games to try to damage the reputation of a seemingly vulnerable incumbent. Doubly so, when Republicans tie Perriello to "super-liberal" Pelosi, the dream foil of the party. Nevermind that 211 other Democrats voted similarly.

This vote, to be sure, will rile up Republicans, and this vote could become a campaign issue next year. Defiantly, I welcome that opportunity. Tom is right. Last year, if we only learned one thing, we learned that when potential voters are treated like adults, given more than emotional and fear-inciting sound-bites, voters respond positively. I'll conclude with Aznew's thoughts on the matter:
This dynamic can win the GOP a local House of Delegates, or even congressional, election in Virginia, but the GOP's days of dreaming about sustainable political leadership or change are in the past.

Over the long run, however, I am confident that Republican reliance on arguments like this have been and will continue to erode the credibility of the GOP because they are insulting to voters.

Update: RPV Chair Pat Mullins sent out an email, copied in full at The Virginian Federalist, providing the same talking points listed above. Beautiful.

Update 2: Crystal Clear Conservative hits all the major talking points and has to mention twice the Pelosi and the "cast the deciding vote" memes. I'm done tracking them, you get the point.


CWPNRG? said...

Alright, y'all, I'm back from my self-imposed timeout.

Regardless of "deciding vote" or not (and it may be that his was the arm twisted to get that one vote), the fact is that the American people overwhelmingly oppose the closure of Gitmo and even more overwhelmingly oppose the transfer of the prisoners there to the United States, and I'll give you two different polls saying the same thing for the price of one.

And we have to think that in a rural district like the 5th, those margins are even greater. Voters have been confronted with the issue of Gitmo for a while now, and they've come to this conclusion. It can hardly be said that it's based on "emotional and fear-inciting soundbites." We had a whole election cycle where these issues were forefront, and this is the opinion of the people on Gitmo.

But Perriello bucked the American people, the people of Virginia, and his constituents by succumbing to the arm-twisting from his leadership. The people have made up their mind on Gitmo, and they deserve to know how their representative voted about it. That knowledge is neither emotional nor fear-inciting. It's necessary for voters to be able to make an informed decision. Perriello voted today against 55 to 60% of his constituents, and they deserve to know about it.

I will say finally that Aznew is right, at least partially. This dynamic can win a Delegate race, and it can flip a Congressional district. And it will. However, it is not insulting to the voters to let them know that their representative voted against their wishes.

Good to be back. See you got rid of anonymous commenting, can't say I blame you.

Matt F. said...

I think that the fact that the only argument that a smart guy like CWPNRG can make against closing Guantanamo is based on polls showing that people don't want it to happen speaks volumes.

CWPNRG? said...

BTW, Drew, how much of my personal info can you see when I post a comment? I mean, I trust that you're not going to go outing me or anything, but it'd be nice to know. And by all that, I mean, can you see my email address? I don't think there's anything else personally identifiable.

CWPNRG? said...

Matt, if you'll note, I didn't make any reference to what my personal opinion on the matter was. That comment was all about the political implication.

I favor keeping it open because I think "Gitmo" would just be replaced by "Leavenworth" or "Myer" or wherever. The symbolism would just shift; I don't think the "stain on our reputation" argument is valid.

I think a cogent argument is that people are, in fact, scared of the folks in Gitmo. There's no need to incite fear that's already there. Note the uproar in Bermuda; the Bermudans aren't any more fond of the idea than the average American. People are uncomfortable with the idea; there's no need to antagonize them.

Additionally, I think closing Gitmo and putting the detainees in stateside prisons undermines the fact that this is a military action and not a law-enforcement action. Since this is a military action, it makes sense that the military can hold these detainees wherever it chooses, and since the people are clearly uncomfortable with the detainees being stateside, Gitmo is as good a place as any. It's certainly better than some hellhole that they would get sent to via extraordinary rendition (which no humane person should support without severely exigent circumstances).

Ideally, we could shut down Gitmo tomorrow. But what are we going to do with the people there? Not only is the public is adamantly opposed, it just won't do any good!

Drew said...


Good to have you back. To assuage your anxiety, I know nothing about you or your contact information, besides what you just put up on your profile page (amusing by the way). Your anonymity is still assured. If you ever contacted me, for whatever reason, I would still promise and guarantee your anonymity.

Your stand against Goode, sure to be minority and unpopular, is courageous, and you deserve, at the very least, that secrecy.

I'll come back to your other points after I get more sleep.

Chris Sanner said...

Figure I might as well post this here too...
I'm a Virginian and I agree wholeheartedly with this sentiment:
the poster is an NC resident, but it makes little difference.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
A Faithful Reader said...

This should not be a major surprise for any Democrat. The President campaigned on closing Gitmo. Will the Senate allow this to stand, when they voted so heavily against closing the prison is another matter.

We are in a lose lose situation. Historically the despot leaders that threaten the world security the most (Lenin, Hitler) have been tortured while being held as political prisoners. If we do not give the detainees in Gitmo a real sense of the true America, then we will have problems.

I think it is thin saber rattling to imply anyone is bringing terrorists into the country and somehow they will escape or be let go. Such childish silliness shows both a desperate Republican Party and a dying voice among our people.

matt said...

arguing the merits, or lack there of imho, of closing a military prison because the people we are fighting don't like it is a waste of time, because one cannot make a logical, lucid case for it's closing, without invoking international 'opinion'. so allz i'm just wondering if when BHO mentioned about a billion times that McCain voted "with Bush" 90% of the time, if any liberals thought that was an insult to adult voter's intelligence?