Dec 7, 2005
It was two tales of the city last night on a dark and cold street on Manhattan's West Side. The wind blew off the Hudson but that didn't deter a small crowd of protesters from turning out at the Hillary Clinton fundraiser held at Crobar, a hip night site just off the Hudson on West 28th Street. On one side of the street, throngs waited in line for hours for a chance to see and listen to former President Bill Clinton expound on the need to reelect his wife as Senator from our state. But on my side of the street, a much smaller group gathered. We wanted to know why, when the majority of the American people are demanding an end to the war in Iraq, our U.S. Senator was supporting the President and the war in vote after vote and, in some respects, outdoing Bush by calling for even more troops to be sent to that debacle.
"Don't support Hillary while she supports the war" was the battle cry and there's reason to suspect that it had a dramatic impact on at least some of the attendees lined up across the street. A few even came over to congratulate us and express their support for upping the pressure on Clinton who typically portrays herself as a moderate but who, on many issues, has moved to the right as she contemplates a run for the Presidency in 2008.
Recently, she has softened her support for the war as the protests have mounted and polls have shown a marked shift in public opinion against Bush and his war. That just proves the point the old adage that "the people must lead and the leaders will follow." Hillary Clinton has disappointed too many of her constituents on this question. Cindy Sheehan eloquently articulated that disappointment when she said at Brooklyn Parents for Peace's Peace Fair, "I can't support a candidate who doesn't oppose this war."
"I cannot support a candidate who doesn't oppose this war."
The Clintons seem to believe that ignoring the question of Iraq will make it go away. A recent questionaire/fund-raising letter, sent out by the Clinton campaign, asked responders to check off a list of their major concerns. Amazingly, the word "Iraq" didn't make it onto the list.
Typical of the Clinton waffling on the issue are these pearls which Clinton said to CNN in May, "You know, I am not one who feels comfortable setting exit strategies. We don’t know what we’re exiting from. We don’t know what the situation is moving toward…. How do we know where we’re headed, when we don’t know where we are?"
After meeting recently with Cindy Sheehan, Clinton told the Village Voice, "My bottom line is that I don’t want their sons to die in vain." (Sound familiar?) And, trying to stake out a nuanced, pro-war line, she added, "I happen to think that fighting for freedom is a noble cause. There are lots of things wrong with how Bush did it. I believe we should have gone through with the inspection process and acted through the U.N. But I believe that standing up against someone as dangerous as Saddam was a good goal.”
Some believe that putting pressure on Clinton is wrong because it is attacking the wrong foe - we should be keeping the fire on Bush, the main culprit, they say. But in my view and the view of many others, the Democratic party, in general, and the party leadership (under the aegis of the Clintons), in particular, are complicit in this war. By giving Bush the votes for an illegal war based on lies and distortions (we and the world knew they were lies in 2003; how come the Dems couldn't or wouldn't see that?) and maintaining that support for the last few years; by remaining totally silent in the face of all the increasing evidence, they have cast themselves as junior partners in the crime. It is an oft-stated question not only on the talk shows but in the streets as well, "Where are the Democrats?" This silent complicity must be pointed out to the people who desperately want to see leadership on exiting Iraq. Not mealy-mouthed waffling, but leadership and articulate oppositon to a war that has killed or maimed tens of thousands of our youth, destroyed the lives and homes of thousands upon thousands of innocent Iraqis and turned their homeland into a living hell of bombs, bullets, torture chambers and civil strife. Without pressure on the Democrats, they will simpy continue on their safe and silent road to political suicide and the Republicans will be able to continue their dastardly deeds.
That's why some 50 of us stood in the cold last night outside the Crobar. And more and more will pursue that option (just as we have marched time and again against Bush and his war). We want to know - "Hillary, are you listening?" And we will tell her, loudly and clearly, that we cannot support her while she supports this war.
Outside Crobar last night, dozens protested Hillary's pro-war stand.
Many groups participated - The Raging Grannies, Code Pink, Brooklyn Parents For Peace and Brooklyn Peace Action.
Big ears....to help Hillary listen.