“Don’t Worry! We’ve Got Your Back!” Markey’s Indefensible Cowardice and Cillizza’s Inexcusable Bias

Some Senators are Red, and some are Blue. Then there's Ed Markey...

Some Senators are Red, and some are Blue. Then there’s Ed Markey…

Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, who is at least temporarily filling John Kerry’s seat in the U.S. Senate, listened to the testimony and questioning regarding President Obama’s embarrassing plan to attack Syria just enough to kill a few people and be annoying (to prove he really, really meant what he said about that red  line), and then cast his vote on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s compromise resolution approving the attack as “present.” Why? Well…

1. He’s a long-time Democratic loyalist from the House, and would no more oppose a Democratic president than fly…

2. He’s from peacenik Massachusetts (just like me!), and he knows that in the only state to give George McGovern its electoral votes, voting to drop missiles on foreign land that haven’t attacked us first is very unpopular, and…

3. He’s a lily-livered coward and a disgrace to his state.

Markey is also a liar, as his ridiculous “explanation” for his abdication of responsibility shows:

“Before casting such a monumental vote, I need to review all of the relevant classified materials relating to this matter before I make a decision as important as authorizing the use of military force. The people of Massachusetts expect their representatives to have analyzed all of the facts prior to making a decision of this magnitude. I am concerned about the unintended consequences of a U.S. military attack on Syria and the potential that such a strike could lead, over time, to the entanglement of our brave service men and women in an intractable Syrian civil war. The resolution as currently drafted contains language that could be interpreted as expanding the scope of the U.S. military action beyond merely the degradation and deterrence of Assad’s chemical weapons capability. The current version of the resolution goes beyond the President’s objective of responding to the use of chemical weapons to call for a broader U.S. political and military strategy in Syria that includes expanded support for various opposition groups, efforts to limit support for the Syrian regime from the Government of Iran and activities to isolate terrorist groups in Syria. Although some of these may be desirable objectives, as written they could result in deeper U.S. military involvement in a country inflamed by sectarian violence. In the days to come, I will further examine the classified intelligence information and consult with experts before deciding how I will vote on the final resolution when it is considered on the Senate floor.”

Translation: “Gotta do some more polling, see whether the measure will pass, and figure out what’s most likely to work out best for me.”

Unable to justify such hackery by a Democratic Senator, Washington Post political reporter Chris Cilizza, who has been laughably cited (by Democrats, of course) as a “non-partisan” Post journalist, offered this as his only substantive commentary on Markey’s pusillanimous non-vote:

“Markey’s “present” vote, of course, doesn’t hold a candle to then-Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) voting “not proven” on the impeachment of Bill Clinton — citing, wait for it, Scottish law.”


1. “It’s not the worst thing” ( The Ethics Alarms bottom-of-the-barrel rationalization), and

2. Republican Senators are hacks too!

It must be comforting to the Democratic hacks in the Senate to know that however badly they act, the biased hacks in the mainstream media will cover for them. Not surprisingly, the same paper’s reporters offered no excuses for John McCain’s more trivial but also unethical abdication of his duties by playing poker while the Senate was debating whether to kill people or not. They just publicized the jokes others made about it-–less than McCain deserves, but far short of searching for a Democrat who was caught playing  Spider Solitaire during the vote on Iraq.


Pointer: Chris Plante

Facts: Boston Herald, Washington Post




9 thoughts on ““Don’t Worry! We’ve Got Your Back!” Markey’s Indefensible Cowardice and Cillizza’s Inexcusable Bias

  1. Okay, I have a feeling that the response here is going to be telling me that I’m obviously naive and partisan…

    But how do you know that he’s lying? What actual EVIDENCE can you provide to support your accusation? Or is there no need for evidence when accusing public figures of lying?

    Why couldn’t it be the case that he honestly believes that, since the real vote on this measure won’t come for a week or two, he’ll be better prepared to make a decision if he has more time to get more background and get the views of more experts? That is not, on its face, a ridiculous position – especially for a resolution that underwent major rewriting only a day before the committee voted on it. (In other circumstances, you’ve criticized Senators for voting on something before they had time to fully understand it.)

    The logic in the “this was just cowardice” position seems more than a little shaky, since an unusual “present” vote is far more attention-getting (and thus leads to more criticism) then a blend-with-the-crowd “yes” or “no” would have.

    • I saw that coming.

      Naturally, we can always make that argument when anyone is lying. Maybe Bill Clinton really didn’t know a blow-job was sex. Maybe Hillary really believed she was under fire on the tarmac. Maybe Ariel Castro really did think his victims were voluntarily letting him rape them.

      That’s why “I mis-spoke” is such an excellent, all-purpose defense. It’s also the reason why lawyers get away with helping their clients engage in frauds and scams. The rules day that a lawyer who “knows” that his client is engaged in a fraud cannot help him with that fraud using his legal skills. Of course, actual knowledge to a 100% certainty is hard to come by, so many lawyers will say they never “know” to a sufficient extent that they have a crook for a client, or that a client is lying on the stand. Some judges let them get away with it, too. Ever wonder why Enron’s lawyers failed to face any sanctions? That’s why.

      Similarly, the difference between “He’s a liar” and “I think he’s a liar” is pretty thin. If I’m saying the former, it obviously means the latter.

      I’m from Massachusetts. Markey was in Congress when I still lived there. A close friend from college worked closely with him. I know the politics and the sensibilities of the areas where Markey is from, and I have followed his career more than I have followed most politicians, in part because of my friend. I have watched Massachusetts politicians since before the days of Tip O’Neill, and I understand the dynamics here, which are unusual. Markey is a classic Irish pol from these parts, and is as slippery and as spineless as they come. Before the vote, I had a conversation with another friend in Boston who asked me what I thought Markey would do. We both agreed that a guy like him, who has always toed the line, would feel in a real pickle knowing that Massachusetts was liable to be very, very, anti-war here, as it always is. Markey has wanted to be Senator forever, and he managed to win the special election only because the state is 80% Democratic and would elect a Democratic bowl of jello who had name recognition. We agreed that it would be interesting to see which way he voted.

      We should have predicted this. Obama could hardly fault Markey for using the same dodge he was famous for in Illinois. Every other Senator voted up of down except Markey. Could it be a coincidence? Well, is it possible that Enron’s lawyers didn’t know about the scam? In both cases, I don’t think so.

      He’s lying.

      • Okay, fair enough – there are times it’s reasonable to be skeptical about what someone is saying.

        For example, virtually all politicians claim never to look at polls or to be thinking of anything but the merits of a bill, and I think we can safely assume that they’re ALL lying about that – even the good ones are considering the politics and polls along with the merits, not considering the merits alone. A politician who never thought about politics or polls, is a politician who never would have gotten elected in the first place.

        But that goes back to my point. It’s outwardly unreasonable for a politician to claim “I never think about politics or polls.” From what we know about politicians, that contradicts known facts – because we know a politician’s JOB is to be aware of politics and polls. Similarly, it’s obvious that the claim that a blow job is not sex contradicts known facts – there are literally thousands of examples of our culture classifying blow jobs as sex (see movie ratings, for instance).

        But nowhere in your post, or in your reply to me, do you cite a single thing Markey says that is, like Clinton’s claim, contrary to fact. Apparently you are unable to back up your accusation with any quoted examples of what Markey said that are too ridiculous to believe, or any evidence.

        I’m certainly not claiming that Markey is a saint. No doubt every member of the committee, Markey included, had political considerations mixed into their decision-making process. But I don’t think that, in and of itself, is enough to justify calling anything a politician says about substantive reasons for a vote a lie.

        As it stands, it appears that you’ve made your accusation without actually being able to identify any specific thing he said that was a lie.

        * * *

        Re McCain:

        The one defense I can think of for McCain is that he made up his mind before the hearing began (and he’s been fairly open about that). Since his vote is decided, and he is not open to changing his mind, it makes no substantive difference whether or not he pays attention during testimony.

        The counter-argument to that is that he needs to treat the institution he’s part of with at least a show of respect, and that includes not playing video games during testimony.

        • Nothing he said explains or justifies the vote. That was my point, and I should have been explicit. He gets a chance to vote in the full Senate, and he expressed, in his comments, the desire to see it voted on in the full Senate. The Committee vote was to let the full Senate consider it. A “present” vote is never justified, in my view. It is voting no without being accountable for voting no, but letting “yes” go forward because you don’t have the guts to speak up. As I usually say, by concluding he’s a liar, I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt, because the alternative is that he’s an idiot.

          As for McCain—disrespectful, unprofessional, unstatesmanlike. Most of the Senators probably had made up their mind, but at least were open minded enough to listen. If McCain isn’t going to engage, he should leave. His presence secretly playing games while looking as if he’s participating is also deceptive, a lie.

          It’s worse than falling asleep on Fox and Friends!

          • A “present” vote is never justified, in my view. It is voting no without being accountable for voting no.

            This I can pretty much agree with. (I think the rules are different in some local legislatures, so in some of those places it’s a meaningful vote).

            But it’s also hard for me to think of it as a grievously pressing issue, to be honest. Or rising to being a “lie.”

            It’s worse than falling asleep on Fox and Friends!


  2. That “Republican” Senator from Pennsylvania switched parties the moment it became inconvenient to remain a Republican. So, try again, Cilizza.


    P.S. Sen Specter’s vote on the impeachment of President Clinton was, in fact, the exact moment that this particular Republican Pennsylvania resident vowed never to vote for him again.

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