Friday, August 29, 2014

For Elizabeth Warren, like Most Democrats, Progressivism Ends at Water's Edge

Elizabeth Warren, my senator, has managed to make a name for herself in her short Senate career so far. She has helped to add some much-needed energy to what some like to call "the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party," the part of it willing to take on the banks, to defend social insurance program, and to fight for seniors, students, and the middle-class broadly speaking.

Although her voting record is one of the best among the Senate Democrats, however, it is by no means perfect. She's been on the wrong side of the Democratic split a few times--voting to reduce the estate tax and to repeal the medical device tax and voting against GMO labeling.  She's also voted party line on some bad votes--the confirmations of John Brennan and Penny Pritzker as well as the NDAA, for example.

Elizabeth Warren's progressivism, moreover, has always been domestic in scope. She might be a war skeptic at times (as with Syria last summer), but she does not offer a concrete foreign policy alternative to the hawkishness of the Democratic Party leadership, parroting the party line instead.
I was thus not surprised--albeit still disappointed--to see her response last week to constituents' questions about Israel's attack on Gaza:
But when the man in the green Hawaiian shirt stood up, Warren went from voicing her support for those local causes to defending her vote to send $225 million to Israel in its ongoing conflict with Hamas.
"We are disagreeing with Israel using their guns against innocents. It's true in Ferguson, Missouri, and it's true in Israel," said Harwich resident John Bangert, who identified himself as a Warren supporter but said the $225 million could have been spent on infrastructure or helping immigrants fleeing Central America.
"The vote was wrong, I believe," he added, drawing applause from several in the crowd.
Warren told Bangert she appreciated his comments, but "we're going to have to agree to disagree on this one."
"I think the vote was right, and I'll tell you why I think the vote was right," she said. "America has a very special relationship with Israel. Israel lives in a very dangerous part of the world, and a part of the world where there aren't many liberal democracies and democracies that are controlled by the rule of law. And we very much need an ally in that part of the world."
Warren said Hamas has attacked Israel "indiscriminately," but with the Iron Dome defense system, the missiles have "not had the terrorist effect Hamas hoped for." When pressed by another member of the crowd about civilian casualties from Israel's attacks, Warren said she believes those casualties are the "last thing Israel wants."
"But when Hamas puts its rocket launchers next to hospitals, next to schools, they're using their civilian population to protect their military assets. And I believe Israel has a right, at that point, to defend itself," Warren said, drawing applause.
Noreen Thompsen, of Eastham, proposed that Israel should be prevented from building any more settlements as a condition of future U.S. funding, but Warren said, "I think there's a question of whether we should go that far."
Elizabeth Warren is a very intelligent person; however, to say that killing civilians is the "last thing" that Israel wants implies an impressive degree of ignorance. More likely, she's lying through her teeth--not that that's any better. 

And although she stands with the totality of the Democratic caucus on this issue, she stands against a plurality of Democratic voters.

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