When Barack Obama was endorsed by Jay Rockefeller in late February, it was considered a feather in his national security cap because the senator from West Virginia is the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Rockefeller, however, as he told the editors of the Charleston (W. Va.) Gazette Monday, has been criticized for taking sides before his state’s May Democratic primary.
“But what is the value of not endorsing someone when you have a close race?” he replied. “You can make a difference.”
His motives may have lain elsewhere. In her Tuesday New York Times piece, “Young Obama Backers Twist Parents’ Arms,” Jan Hoffman wrote: “The daily phone calls. The midnight e-mail. And, when college lets out, those dinner table declamations? Oh, please. Senator Barack Obama’s devotees just won’t give their parents a break.”
In the interview, Rockefeller also said, “My whole family is united [behind a candidate] as never before.” His children are grown, and while, by all accounts, their dad is as devoted and ingratiating as a big, old dog, they might have gotten tired of seeing him disgrace himself and his family as a Bush Dog Democrat.
Rockefeller’s complicitness with the Bush administration was chronicled on AlterNet the same day he spoke with the Gazette editors. Alexander Zaitchik writes: “Rockefeller’s habit of carrying the heaviest buckets of dirty water for the administration began soon after the 9/11 attacks.”
For example, he has since turned against the Iraq War. But, at the time he was such an enthusiastic supporter that even before Bush made his speech to the UN, Rockefeller met with officials in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria, and informed them that since an invasion of Iraq was a done deal, they might as well accept it.
In his most notorious act, Rockefeller worked with Cheney to make warrantless spying safe for the Senate â€“- and the telecoms, by providing them with immunity — in June of last year. But the House repudiated the administration and Rockefeller by passing the FISA bill without the telecom immunity.
That might have been the last straw for his children. In February, Rockefeller endorsed Obama and in Monday’s interview took one step beyond. “McCain was a fighter pilot,” he said, “who dropped laser-guided missiles from 35,000 feet. He was long gone when they hit. What happened when they [the missiles] get to the ground? He doesn’t know. You have to care about the lives of people. McCain never gets into those issues.”
Of course, Rockefeller has since been forced to apologize for those remarks and the Obama campaign has dissociated itself from them. There’s no denying they were intemperate, especially for a man running for reelection. Also, when was the last time you heard any politician this side of Dennis Kucinich voice concern over the effects of killing at a distance?
In the past, Rockefeller got into trouble for doing what the administration wants. This time he got into trouble for doing what his kids want. Obviously he was parroting liberal words of compassion (however, true) that his kids fed him.
It’s intemperate and wrong to point out that pilots don’t feel the visceral agony of war that ground troops do? Give me a break. Rockefeller is exactly right. You are long gone before the people start being blow to pieces and burning and dying or wishing they were dead.
Sorry if I didn’t make myself clear, Epppie. I meant intemperate for the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Civilian casualties is an underlying theme of my writing.
Try this book: “Among the Dead Cities” by David Grayling about civilians being bombed.
Thank you for writing.
I think Barack Obama is better suited for president, he is not persuaded by the big wigs in Washington. He follows his heart, and listen to the people, if within his heart he knows something is not right, no one and nobody can persuade him to take sides, just like the Iraq war, he knew it was wrong and he refuses to be persuaded like Hillary Clinton, who claimed the war is wrong but still voted for senseless George Bush to invade Iraq.
McCain presents himself as a military man, military historian, and the like, but his knowledge and experience with ground operations, like the ones in Iraq and Afghanistan, is nil. He is not Alexander the Great, though he probably thinks he is.
My experience with people who used to be in the military is that they are quick to deride those with opinions on militatry operations who “never served.” Yet, the vast majority of the deriders worked far from any front and, if they did actually see combat, it was usually in small, tactical operations that give them expertise in only that … not in grand strategy.
McCain’s service is what it is. I don’t blame him for doing what military men are ordered to do, and he was ordered to fly over battlefields and kill at a distance. My objection is that McCain pretends to be a member of the poor, bloody infantry … and he’s anything but.