Liberal Street Fighter

Update [2005-12-6 16:48:0 by Madman in the Marketplace]:Arianna Huffington has a snarky takedown up on Hillary’s shameless pandering to the right:

FROM: HRCRSSCT (Hillary Rodham Clinton Red State Street Cred Team)

Good news. Our internal polling is going through the roof over HRC’s signing on to Bennett’s flag burning bill. Our focus group feedback shows it’s the perfect have-it-both-ways positioning. We get to be pro-flag and anti-constitutional ban at the same time. Moderate Dems can embrace this as the lesser of two evils; Red Staters just know that we support Old Glory. Sure, we’re getting some blowback from the lefty blogs…but that actually helps up our Red state street cred. Messaging suggestion: HRC might want to lay off the flag burning/cross burning comparisons (even NASCAR dads don’t equate flag burning protestors with the KKK).

Hillary Clinton will face An Antiwar Challenge:

Former National Writers Union president Jonathan Tasini, one of the most outspoken progressive activists in the U.S. labor movement, is expected this week to launch a Democratic primary challenge to New York Senator Hillary Clinton on a progressive platform that features a call for bringing U.S. troops home from Iraq.

Tasini has scheduled an announcement for Tuesday morning in New York City, setting up a campaign that could put unexpected pressure from the left on Clinton, the unannounced frontrunner for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination who until recently has been one of the strongest Democratic backers of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.

One can only hope that this is the beginning of a trend going into the primary contests for ’06. The left has provided support for far too long while being both the in-the-streets army AND the favorite punching bag of the centrist hacks who run the Democratic Party.
Mr. Tasini, who is perhaps best known for taking on the NY Times on behalf of freelancers is now taking on another challenge that others might find as daunting as the Times was. As he writes on

Why I’m Taking on Hillary Clinton

Imagine walking into the ballot booth and casting your vote without having to hold your nose. Imagine being able to vote for what you really believe, instead of telling yourself (yet again) that the best you can do is pick the lesser of two evils, including voting for someone who is a supporter of the war in Iraq. I can imagine having a real choice — and it’s the reason I’m challenging Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for Senator from New York.

My campaign will give New York voters a voice and a choice, for the differences between the incumbent and myself are stark and wide. She supported the war in Iraq from the beginning, and even now, after the deaths of 2,100 Americans and countless thousands of Iraqis, and the waste of hundreds of billions of dollars, still holds a position not very different from that of George Bush (find a “winning” strategy, then withdraw troops … sometime.)

This is great news. It is vital that every one of the office holders who betray the values of their base voters face primary challenges. It is important that this party differentiate itself from the right, for it to stop drafting in every contest behind the Republicans. As Tasini continues:

My background, my positions and my beliefs are a mirror opposite. I am a long-time labor leader, organizer and activist, who will draw financial support in small amounts from many thousands. I am a patriot who has firmly and vocally opposed the war — who thinks that real homeland security means bringing the troops home now — and who believes that our economic future should not be determined by an ideology of corporate protection that moves good-paying jobs to countries that desecrate the environment and abuse their workers, and which leaves hardworking American men and women to face a dead-end future. I support providing Medicare to all Americans, so good health becomes a right, not a luxury for those who can afford it.

I also stand in challenge to the politics of business-as-usual — and to the Democratic Party which has a chance to regain power, if it has the courage to put forth a message and agenda that is something more than Republican-lite. I have talked to people throughout New York State and the country, and they are hungry for that vision. My campaign offers progressives a chance to say their votes cannot be taken for granted, simply because a Democratic Party candidate is the “less bad” option. It gives us a chance to pursue our conception of what America should be.

Can I win this race? It’s always tough to take on an incumbent. But whatever happens, I hope to leave behind a network of activists committed to taking back the country and electing leaders who have the nerve to stand against corporate abusive of power and those who would impose an American empire on the rest of the world. And I do not believe victory is impossible. The late Paul Wellstone’s slogan was “vote for what you believe in,” a slogan that is the clarion call for If the people of New York do that, we can win. The time has come to stop accepting second best. I’ve worked for a better world my entire adult life, and I still believe it’s within reach.

Wow, a clear statement of goals and a vision for a better, more progressive party and country.

I hope this will be a vigorous and open primary contest. I hope Senator Clinton has enough integrity and faith in her policies to go honestly toe-to-toe with a progressive opponent and have a true contest of ideas, a true contest to determine what this party should be. I doubt she will, but I’m willing to be suprised.

Mr. Tasini’s campaign website is right here and his blog is here.

Update [2005-12-5 21:29:4 by Madman in the Marketplace]:In case it isn’t clear yet that Senator Clinton is going to keep running to the right:

Sen. Clinton co-sponsors anti-flag burning law

December 5, 2005, 10:44 AM EST

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is supporting new legislation to criminalize desecration of the United States flag _ though she still opposes a constitutional ban on flag attacks.

Clinton, D-N.Y., has agreed to co-sponsor a measure by Republican Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah, which has been written in hopes of surviving any constitutional challenge following a 2003 Supreme Court ruling on the subject.

Her support of Bennett’s bill follows her position in Congress last summer, when a constitutional ban on flag-burning was debated. Clinton said then she didn’t support a constitutional ban, but did support federal legislation making it a crime to desecrate the flag.

In her public statements, she has compared the act of flag-burning to burning a cross, which can be considered a violation of federal civil rights law.

The Bennett-sponsored measure outlaws a protester intimidating any person by burning the flag, lighting someone else’s flag, or desecrating the flag on federal property.

Copyright 2005 Newsday Inc.

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