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Charlie Sykes: Sykes Writes

Tammy's 9/11 Problem

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Liberals and their media allies are in high dudgeon; their hackles of self-righteousness in the full, upright, and locked position over Tommy Thompson's attack on Tammy Baldwin's response to 9/11. Their reaction suggests that the attacks have drawn blood, as well they might, since the issue highlights two of her less attractive qualities: her self-indulgent liberalism, and her penchant for flaky anti-military leftism.


Media Trackers first reported the  2006 vote.against a resolution to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Despite a bipartisan consensus on honoring the victims. Baldwin was just one of 22 members of Congress who voted against the resolution that ultimately passed 395-22 even in the midst of the bitter 2006 campaign that would put Democrats back in charge of Congress.

Even Nancy Pelosi voted for the resolution. So did Gwen Moore, for God's sake.  No other member of the Wisconsin delegation voted against it. 

Baldwin's reaction has been hyper-defensive, calling the charges "desperate,' and brushing off the vote as 'symbolic" and a protest against partisan language inserted inserted in the "whereas" clauses of the otherwise uncontroversial measure. 

Some thoughts here:

Her qualms about the resolution were obviously not shared by the vast majority of her fellow Democrats, who voted for the bipartisan measure. The language to which she objected had no force of law. So why did she vote "no"?

She'd like us to now think the vote was meaningless or a quixotic stand on principle. In fact it as quite revealing: exemplifying her penchant for flamboyantly self-indulgent purer-than-thou Madison-style liberalism. She was playing to galleries: in this case the far fringes of anti-war left who had chafed at what they saw as the enforced patriotism of the 9/11 national consensus.

But the vote poses a deeper problem for Baldwin, because it highlights the rest of her voting record. It's a problem because it wasn't an aberration. 

Baldwin now has to explain her co-sponsorship of the Department Of Peace Act . She has to reconcile her claims of injured innocence with her "present" vote on a resolution condemning Ahmadinejad's statements denying the Holocaust and advocating for the destruction of Israel. she has to explain why she voted against funding of the troops - voting non on Defense authorizations for 2013, 2009,2008 which provided pay raises for troops, housing, and increased funding for healthcare for soldiers)

Baldwin insists that she voted against the 2006 resolution because it included "divisive language" including an endorsement of the Patriot Act..

But, this also rings somewhat hollow, since she had numerous chances to vote against the actual Patriot Act. In fact, she voted against the Patriot Act and every one of its authorizations.

Baldwin Voted Against The PATRIOT Act And Each One Of Its Subsequent Reauthorizations. (H.R. 514, CQ Vote #66: Motion agreed to, thus clearing the bill for the president, by a vote of 279-143: R 211-26; D 68-117, 2/17/11, Baldwin Voted Nay; H.R. 3961, CQ Vote #67: Motion agreed to, thus clearing the bill for the president, by a vote of 315-97: D 162-87; R 153-10, 2/25/10, Baldwin Voted Nay; H.R. 3326, CQ Vote #985: Motion agreed to by a vote of 395-34: D 231-23; R 164-11, 12/16/09, Baldwin Voted Nay; S. 2271, CQ Vote #20: Motion agreed to, thus clearing the bill for the president, by a vote of 280-138: R 214-13; D 66-124; I 0-1, 3/7/06, Baldwin Voted Nay; H.R. 3199, CQ Vote #627: Adopted (thus sent to the Senate) by a vote of 251-174: R 207-18; D 44-155; I 0-1, 12/14/05, Baldwin Voted Nay; H.R. 3162, CQ Vote #398: Motion agreed to by a vote of 357-66: R 211-3; D 145-62; I 1-1, 10/24/01, Baldwin Voted Nay)

This sort of thing isn't a political problem if your are running for re-election in the Madison-area. But Wisconsin -- even its liberal enclaves -- isn't Madison. And that's why the issue is more than a bit problematic two weeks out from the  election.

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