When a legitimate review of a politician’s voting record draws charges of “doing Trump’s bidding” that’s demagogic, writes Norman Solomon.
By Norman Solomon
Well-informed public discussion is a major hazard for Democratic Party elites now eager to prevent Bernie Sanders from winning the 2020 presidential nomination. A clear focus on key issues can bring to light the big political differences between Sanders and the party’s corporate-friendly candidates. One way to muddy the waters is to condemn people for pointing out facts that make those candidates look bad.
National polling shows that the U.S. public strongly favors bold policy proposals that Sanders has been championing for a long time. On issues ranging from climate change to Medicare for All to tuition-free public college to Wall Street power, the party’s base has been moving leftward, largely propelled by an upsurge of engagement from progressive young people. This momentum is a threat to the forces accustomed to dominating the Democratic Party.
In recent weeks, Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke has become a lightning rod in a gathering political storm— largely because of the vast hype about him from mass media and Democratic power brokers. At such times, when spin goes into overdrive, we need incisive factual information. Investigative journalist David Sirota provided it in a deeply researched Dec. 20 article, which The Guardian published under the headline “Beto O’Rourke Frequently Voted for Republican Legislation, Analysis Reveals.”
Originating from the nonprofit Capital & Main news organization, the piece reported that “even as O’Rourke represented one of the most solidly Democratic congressional districts in the United States, he has frequently voted against the majority of House Democrats in support of Republican bills and Trump administration priorities.”
Voting with the Opposition
Progressives have good reasons to like some of O’Rourke’s positions. But Sirota’s reporting drilled down into his voting record, reviewing “the 167 votes O’Rourke has cast in the House in opposition to the majority of his own party during his six-year tenure in Congress. Many of those votes were not progressive dissents alongside other left-leaning lawmakers, but instead votes to help pass Republican-sponsored legislation.”
But it’s better to learn revealing political facts sooner rather than later. Thanks to Sirota’s coverage, for instance, we now know “O’Rourke has voted for GOP bills that his fellow Democratic lawmakers said reinforced Republicans’ anti-tax ideology, chipped away at the Affordable Care Act, weakened Wall Street regulations, boosted the fossil fuel industry and bolstered Donald Trump’s immigration policy.”
The backlash to Sirota’s news article was in keeping with a tweet two weeks earlier from Neera Tanden, the president of the influential and lavishly funded Center for American Progress, who has long been a major ally of Bill and Hillary Clinton. On Dec. 6, Tanden went over-the-top in response to a tweet from Sirota simply mentioning the fact that O’Rourke “is the #2 recipient of oil/gas industry campaign cash in the entire Congress.”
Tanden Lashed Out on Twitter
Tanden lashed out via Twitter, writing: “Oh look. A supporter of Bernie Sanders attacking a Democrat. This is seriously dangerous. We know Trump is in the White House and attacking Dems is doing Trump’s bidding. I hope Senator Sanders repudiates these attacks in 2019.”
Such calculated nonsense indicates just how panicky some powerful corporate Democrats are about Bernie’s likely presidential campaign—and just how anxious they are to protect corporate-oriented candidates from public scrutiny. The quest is to smother meaningful discussions of vital issues that should be center stage during the presidential campaign.
Corporate Democrats are gearing up to equate principled, fact-based critiques of their favored candidates with—in Tanden’s words—“seriously dangerous” attacks that are “doing Trump’s bidding.” Such demagogic rhetoric should be thrown in the political trash cans where it belongs.
This is not only about Beto O’Rourke—it’s about the parade of Democratic contenders lined up to run for president. Should the candidates that mass media and party elites put forward as “progressive” be quickly embraced or carefully scrutinized? The question must be asked and answered.
Norman Solomon is co-founder and national coordinator of RootsAction.org. He is the author of a dozen books including “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.”
beto has a number of events in his life that look like corruption/special treatment that bode ill for his character and his political future. snopes, notoriously pro democrat “fact checker” looked at several accusations from the senate dust up and basically concluded that the one that said he changed his name for political advantage was false. as for the others? check it out yourself; makes interesting reading:
Love the effort you made.
And, I certainly mean no offense towards you at all.
But, I wont be consulting Snopes unless I need advice on embezzling from my own company to pay for my dominatrix misstress.
No one ever mentions that Beto is in the oligarch club. He is married to a billionaire’s hieress.
So, we are to believe that the Democrat’s billionaire is better than the Republican’s billionaire?!
Beto can stay in Texas and keep pretending he’s latino.
Maybe the fact that O’Rourke votes with the GOP and Trump administration, despite the fact that his district is as Democratic as most in Massachusetts, has something to do with this.
Of course, Solomon’s predictable, cheesy analysis fails to mention this.
Norman, Norman, Norman,
“On issues ranging from climate change to Medicare for All to tuition-free public college to Wall Street power, the party’s base has been moving leftward, largely propelled by an upsurge of engagement from progressive young people.”
I think he forgot something – the question of war and peace which Sanders does not like to talk much about and on which he is quite hawkish when it comes to the nuclear superpower of Russia. Not for nothing did Jeffrey St. Claire call Bernie “the Hubert Humphrey of the 21st Century.” Bernie is good on the domestic goodies and Medicare for All is of paramount importance – but not if we blow ourselves up or consume the survivors in a nuclear winter.
This issue is of great importance.
The principled Tulsi Gabbard is good on domestic issues and the best the Dems have on war and peace and intervention. She campaigned with Bernie in 2016 and gave him some badly needed cred on peace issues.
Oh another thing, she is young and you ardently wish for someone who could attract the younger demographic. I think you forgot she could do that.
At least you are not championing Robert Francis O’Rourke, aka Beto, an instance of cynical cultural appropriation if ever there was one.
The nice thing about Beto & his ilk is that we can save our money and let the corporations pay for their campaigns.
If I am not mistaken, torture this, in his race against Cruz Beto raised $70 million through individual donations alone – no PAC money at all. Would he not walk the same path in a presidential race?
Tuition free college? Do people value things that are free?
What are most college programs producing that is valuable to the US economy in ever greater competition with the rest of the world? A large percentage of US college science and engineering classes are made up of foreign students who are increasingly returning to their own countries after graduation.
Does the US economy need more bizarre feminist revisionist history and sociology “education”? More black studies that paint white males as criminal oppressors when it was African blacks and Arabs that supplied the slave trade, and it was Northern whites who bled to defeat Confederate slavery?
This won’t work and it won’t re-industrialize the US and make it competitive again in the world.
I respectfully disagree, Eric32. I live next to a California Junior College that makes it nearly impossible to fail and once a student “gets it” they take their AA degree seamlessly into the vaunted UC System. Many of our best achievers need careful bringing along to achieve often stunning results. See this link…
Its ironic that you’re deriding revisionism when your attempt to paint the American slave trade – obviously prosecuted by whites, since they ran every leg of the triangular trade – as somehow the fault of blacks is a classic revisionist remark. Slavery has existed for millenia and many people have practiced it (for example the Islamic world was an important prior locus of African slave trade). But the Atlantic slave trade was clearly originated by Europeans (the Portugese) and there is really no reason to excuse the “white race” from this history. It happened; deal with the weight of guilt if you feel it.
You’re confused – I didn’t revise any history, and I didn’t blame slavery on blacks.
I don’t even blame Obama and Hillary for the revived black slave trade now occurring in Libya, after the Obama/Clinton destruction of the Libyan government.
And I don’t have any “guilt” to feel about the white participation in the slave trade anymore than American blacks have any guilt for the blacks who were supplying the kidnapped slaves to coastal Africa, or the African blacks who have continued to be involved in the ongoing African slave trade.
By the way, just so you’ll know,white Britains put an end to that coastal African slave trade. White American Northerners put an end to it in the Confederacy.
Once clear headed people understand this, maybe we can have a honest discussion.davi
I’m glad to see Mr. Solomon pointing out what a do-nothing ‘progressive’ congressman Beto was and pointing out his vapid values. Prior to the last debate with Cruz, the Texas Tribune had an extensive article on the environmental and social destruction happening in the latest oil boom in west Texas. In the debate Cruz praised the boom focusing on jobs and the money from exports. The one-sided accounting one expects from the likes of Cruz. Beto bragged about visiting every Texas county–his one great accomplishment he mentioned time and again, and yet clearly didn’t learn anything from his visits to Pecos, Reeves, Midland, Winkler and other Texas counties.
On the health care question he was useless–talking about how Texas didn’t take the Medicaid expansion but offering not a single idea. His repeated line was Cruz wants to eliminate pre-existing conditions. In other words, Obama care is good enough.
Finally, he launched into an issue the moderators didn’t ask about and I dare say most voters in Texas don’t care about. That is Russia and the 2016 election.
So, old man Biden or young man O’Rourke. If these rise to the top of the options for voters–well, I just don’t even know what to say…
My long tested rule: the more hype in the media about a politician the more likely that he/she is a corporate Trojan horse. O’Rourke is no different. I certainly can be persuaded otherwise about him. But that will need real evidence of what he has done. As far as I am concerned, the more hype and the more empty talk the more skeptical I become.
A prime example was Obama. By applying this rule, I was able to see him through even in his first presidential run. I am proud to say that I did not vote for Obama even the first time. I did not vote for the other brand of the WallStteet/AIPAC/MIC party either.
Hey Righteous dope ! a credibledonation
Just click on the link below to modify http://bit.ly/2SUSG9c
For those of you too young, or too riddled with Alzheimer’s, to remember the Reagan era, take note:
Reagan served as President for two terms at the ages of nearly-70 to nearly-78.
If Bernie Sanders were to be elected President and live long enough to finish a single term, Bernie would serve at the ages of 79 years, 4 months old to 83 years, 4 months old. In other words, Bernie would BEGIN his Presidency about 1 year and 5 months older than the age Reagan COMPLETED his second term.
Then, let me remind you what we had to watch on the evening news DURING the Reagan era: Wondering early on whether at his age Reagan would survive the Hinckley shooting, followed in succession by one colon cancer operation, three nose cancer operations, a prostate operation, and an operation in his final days to fix … a finger (Whether the finger had something to do with his nose, or his colon, was not disclosed to us). And this was R-e-a-g-a-n, a tough old bird who DID survive the shooting, was famous for often clearing scrub at his ranch in Santa Barbara, and at least in his younger years as a bare-chested “actor” took good care of himself. Now, compare Reagan to Bernie Sanders, who has admitted to smoking weed as far back as 1968, and has not been photographed, ever, shoveling snow in Vermont or doing anything even remotely physical since nineteen-freaking-eighty-one when Bernie gave up sports. A 4:37 miler in school, a 6-foot “center” on amateur b-ball teams, and a Brooklyn Dodger fan, Bernie has not been seen running a single lap or throwing one softball in 37 years plus. Finally let me remind those of you who have forgotten that Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of 83 years, 6 months of age (and a good number of us who would watch him on the telly in his second term especially wondered if he was already afflicted with Alzheimer’s in the White House). So, Bernie in the best of comparative circumstances would finish his first term within three months of Reagan’s official onset of Alzheimers.
Not to mention Bernie got stomped by Hillary, a pathetic campaigner who in turn got hustled by Bone Spurs.
America wants a change. Elizabeth, Joe and Bernie were all born before color television and Cadillacs with Fins. Time to pass the baton to people who can skateboard, bicycle … and dance.
As for Sirota, oil & gas workers does not equate to oil & gas industry. Such a silly allegation. You all know that Beto raised $79 million from little people. Don’t for a second think you can try to make it sound otherwise.
Let’s not confuse “realism” among progressives with the tendency to imagine that the likes of Beto O’Rourke are progressive, liberal, left, or anything of the sort.
Let’s not confuse “realism” with the idea that a Democratic candidate in some way offers a compromise to progressives by virtue of being a Democrat instead of a Republican.
Of course we ask. There’s no point voting for these people. Having been caught red-handed rigging its own nomination process, siphoning funds given to local candidates, distributing funds to the Trump candidacy campaign, the Party has almost completely failed to overhaul its nomination processes or even replace guilty parties.
No progress, no votes.
Yes, what was shocking to me was how suspicious the MSMS’s apparently baseless enthusiasm for O’Rourke appeared — a dozen front page photos and little memorable or “brave” or “principled” in the shadow of Obama, as if we’ll fall for another attractive but “empty suit”. Yes, the day after Iowa, I read 3 analyses of Obama’s record that said that he was more conservative than Clinton and realized “the game is on” . When it’s Decmber 2 years “before” and the Guardian seems to be annointing O’Rourke as a RFK reincarnated, we’ve got a deep-pocket agenda and given the reaction to Sirota’s vanilla reporting, a bizarre ‘TRIBAL’ overreaction by DNC stallwarts (we weren’t devious enough) This may destroy the party (again)
O please, these people are NOT Democrats, corporate or otherwise. They are DINOs. They are the moderate Republicans that fled the Republican party when St. Ronnie took over (and their spawn). They are Republicans in sheeps clothing. We need someone to stand up and say that we shouldn’t try to be an empire and unfortunately, it’s not going to be Bernie or any of the other idiots in Congress.
Read this piece over a week ago on another site; glad to see it here. O’Rourke is Turdeou (sic) with a horse face (but horses are noble creatures, and O’Rourke is not.) Here’s a clue, oh ye Democratic king-makers: persist in this foisting of “small, lukewarm bowls of tasteless nothings” on your “faithful” partisan base and not only will you fail to retake the WH and the Senate, but your control of the House will be short-lived and pyrrhic.
Now, cue the Clintonite corporate trolls, to tell us all how horrible, unrealistic and “wrong” Bernie Sanders is. Inevitable as the dawn.
So pointing out how Mr. O’Rourke is literally doing Trump’s bidding is “doing Trump’s bidding”? How do people fall for this garbage? Hating Trump is no reason to stop thinking.
“Hating Trump is no reason to stop thinking.”
Oh yes it is! Time for you to put on your NPC cap, friend. Orange Man bad!
Am no fan of Beto, but progs have to be a bit more realistic. *Of course* a congressman from Texas is going favor oil and natgas–how could he not? He’s probably also pro-Second-Amendment, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he’s never voted against pick-up trucks or big belt buckles either! If the Dims keep up these silly litmus tests, pretty soon their presidential bull-pen will be limited to people from New York and California.
Meanwhile, Tulsi is the new Bernie: https://medium.com/@caityjohnstone/five-reasons-im-excited-about-tulsi-gabbard-s-candidacy-3eb8807351a9
Seamus – as Sirota pointed out (“O’Rourke has voted for GOP bills that his fellow Democratic lawmakers said reinforced Republicans’ anti-tax ideology, chipped away at the Affordable Care Act, weakened Wall Street regulations, boosted the fossil fuel industry and bolstered Donald Trump’s immigration policy.”)
Yeah, pretty “silly litmus tests” to be sure Seamus, but hey, I have an solution, how about Beto just runs as a Republican? Problem solved.
He voted against the policies of other Texas Democrats and his district is extremely blue so the “Texas is different” defense doesn’t fly.
Gabbard is once again apologizing for being against gay marriage (she first apologized in 2012, a year before Hillary did for the same “offense”). There’s no way the Democrats will line up with an anti-War candidate. They will continue to marginalize Gabbard and deny funding as not a “real” candidate.
Similarly Sanders campaign will die of a thousand cuts (much as happened as described in the DNC wikileaks from the primaries). Presently he is being attacked for sexual harassment during his campaign (not by him, of course). This is from the party of Bill Clinton! Putting forth “ponies” that we can never, ever have like universal single payer medicare4all (we always need more weapons and bombs by GOP politicians ) is anathema to the Democrats (and has never been embraced either; the coopting of Democrats by the same donors happened under Clinton.)
This is the “realistic” reasoning that gave us the Clintons, and why HRC lost in 2016. If climate change is the most important issue, (it is) then we cannot afford Beto.
Climate change is a farce.
Ending the never ending wars is THE most important issue. Followed by the $22 trillion debt.
Climate change, originally called global warming, had to be renamed b/c the farce that was global warming was too easy to debunk.
If the Dems run on the climate change farce they will get rolled.
Of course we can’t know at this point how things will play out in Democratic primary process of 2020, however, one thing is clear. We cannot allow the Democratic Party leadership to undercut and sabotage whomever the most progressive candidate(s) are and leave voters with a replay of 2016 and their “Hillary – there is no alternative” corruption. Can Bernie and Tulsi even hope to get reasonably fair treatment from the DNC? I seriously doubt it. Trump’s candidacy imploded the Republican Party, and the DNC’s corruption essentially did the same to the Democratic Party for any who consider such corruption to be “a problem.”
I find myself wondering that if they ran together as Greens would Bernie bring a huge surge of the young base that still supports him and his policies? Would having Tulsi as VP create a progressive dynamic that would be energetically supported by those who are anti-war and imperialism in principal, but also appeal to more conservative voters who have more recently become opposed to our endless wars and watching their kids sent off to fight and die in them, something Trump used as a platform but has failed to deliver on? Could Bernie/Tulsi as Greens finally push the old paradigm off the cliff and actually engage the nearly 50% of Americans who simply don’t vote, beside the majority of young and progressive voters? Impossible to say, but I certainly have zero confidence in the Democratic Party to run a fair impartial primary process.
One could ask what there is to really lose by finally shifting the entire dynamic and exposing the corporate war-mongering shills for empire that constitute both Party’s elites for what they are, and finally rendering them irrelevant to an actual popular democratic movement by running third party? Expecting or trusting the Democratic establishment to “play fairly” by the rules certainly seems a prescription for a repeat of 2016. That the Democratic establishment can be promoting an empty suit like “Beto O’Rourke” tells us everything we need to know about their expectations and plans for us all in 2020, and those plans quite obviously don’t include Bernie or Tulsi or anything remotely resembling a progressive agenda.
Great comment Gary. However, I doubt that Bernie would ever consider going over to the Greens, or he would have done it in 2016 when he saw how the DNC sabotaged his campaign. Tulsi, being young and somewhat daring, may consider it. I haven’t investigated how many Bernie supporters there are left after his sheepdog antics, but I don’t trust him at all. I think Tulsi could entice many former Berners to support her even without Bernie.
For us to have any hope for a future, we need to slay the DNC/RNC two headed monster. I’m sure we can count on both to do whatever it takes to have only corporate approved candidates for the general election, and to do everything in their power to limit exposure and demonize any “outsiders”. That leaves building a viable third party as the only real choice, and getting someone with enough name recognition and star power that they can’t be ignored. I think the Greens have the right platform, and I’d love to see them become a major force in 2020.
Skip & Bob – ” I doubt that Bernie would ever consider going over to the Greens, ” & “I don’t trust him at all” – Skip.
Unfortunately I agree with you on both points Skip. Given Bernie’s continuing popularity in the polls I just have a hard time imagining Tulsi seriously contending if she is splitting rather than sharing progressive support at election time. I too would like to see the Green Party kick started by a Tulsi/Bernie ticket, but the more realistic option (though it may only be “realistic” in my dreams) is that Bernie and Tulsi join forces within the Democratic Party to challenge the establishment candidate. 2020 would be the perfect time for Bernie to try to rebalance the karma equation after he flamed out on his supporters in 2016. I’m not holding my breath, but perhaps I’m still “dreaming.”
I am hoping that Bernie will decide not to run and endorse Tulsi instead. Even if I still trusted him, I think he’s too old to lead the ticket, and I doubt he’d run as VP.
I was fooled by the world-class conman Obama, fooled again by the sheepdog Sanders, now I am supporting the People’s Party movement, the US version of the yellow vest movement growing all over Europe. 65 million voted for the war criminal, bankster Clinton, that included many who supported Sanders in the primary, once again falling in line behind the oligarch’s scripted voting the lesser of two evils-the oligarchs vetted both candidates, so they know they can work with either of them. A huge portion of those voters needs to wake up and stop trying to fix the corporate left-in-name-only wing of the US oligarch party, something that is never going to happen. The faux “progressives” elected in the recent “blue wave” – corporate owned MSM propaganda, began showing their corporate ties day after the election. AOC supports Pelosi, enough said. Sanders will learn soon, he lost his base when he did not run as a Green or independent in 2016. We need to find candidates outside of corporate political parties and support them with small donations, the support needs to be sufficient to where the DNC / GOP cannot prevent them from competing in the elections without starting a revolution. https://www.forapeoplesparty.org/
Thank you Gary Weglarz, I appreciate your warning about the democratic party, I think you’re exactly right. It will be much like navigating a mine field selecting a candidate to support. I’ve said this before, but I was deeply impressed by the strong feminism and honest passion demonstrated by Jill Stein post election, and presented right here on CN. It will take great skill to look below the headlines into the Real personalities of the candidates put forward. That plus real election reform… (I know, it seems unlikely.)
Interesting thoughts, Gary. Tulsi certainly has opposnents (especially since endorsing Bernie), but I was surprised by this story in The Intercept:
Do you or any of the commenters here know anything about this?
“Her progressive domestic politics are at odds with her support for authoritarians abroad, including Modi, Sisi, and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.”
The article is garbage.
Written by a hack.
Too bad sheepdog Sanders proved to be a turncoat phony, good only for backing Hillary.
mike k – hey, I’m totally with you on Sanders. From my perspective what he and Warren both did was a total betrayal of the progressive base. Cowardly. The question before us now is could Tulsi seriously contend without a partnership or the support of Sanders? I seriously doubt that she could, but if so, by all means.
Tulsi would do well to distance herself from “Asaad must go” Bernie.
I gave Bernie lots of money in 2016. Only to be stabbed in the back. Bernie can rot before I will ever give him the time of day again.
Bernie continues to make a complete ass of himself with the horseshit Russia Russia Russia bandwagon he joined.
F Bernie! Time for him to be put out to pasture.
In a more truthful world, the Clintons, Obama, Biden, O’Rourke, and so on would be labeled what they are: moderate Republicans.
So, when corporatist-militaristic Democrats will criticize Bernie Sanders or Tulsi Gabbard, will they also accept that this is “doing Trump’s bidding”? Of course not, for them, there re different rules.
Gabbard is immensely hawkish, what are you talking about?
neal – because traveling to Syria herself to educate herself and get information first hand, then introducing the “Stop Arming Terrorists Act” in Congress designed to end U.S. funding for our jihadist buddies, and publicly opposing our illegal immoral interventionist wars about the Middle East = “hawkish” in your book?
Tell me another member of Congress that had the courage to take on the entire military/intelligence/MSM/bi-partisan war complex to point out clearly that “the empire has no clothes” by making it clear through that legislation for all to see that the U.S. is supporting, not fighting against, our jihadist buddies in Syria.
She also strongly supported the Singapore Summit which has moved us away from nuclear confrontation since NK has now stopped testing ICBMs and nuclear bombs and the US has stopped the provocative war games. And she campaigned with Bernie to give him some antiwar cred which he badly needs given his hawkish stand on Russia and his ugly stand on Palestine.
But more than that he is a bit too old – I think it is difficult for him to overcome that obstacle. But he is better than all the rest save for Tulsi.