Barbara Lee was right.
Barbara Lee and Limbaugh eye to eye at last
Lee was right, and who confirmed it? Rush Limbaugh, of all
Limbaugh, in his role as constitutional scholar, wrote
an op-ed piece in
Tuesday's Wall Street Journal titled "Congress already
OKd Iraq War."
He was referring to the Sept. 14 joint resolution of
authorized the president to "use all necessary and
against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines
authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks
on September 11,
Lee, the Democratic congresswoman from Oakland, was
the only member of
Congress to vote against that resolution, and for that
she was called a
traitor and received death threats from all over the country.
thoughtful UC Berkeley political scientist Nelson Polsby
telling Newsweek that it was just "a feel-good vote,
Now Lee appears to have been a seer, and the vote of
Congress was the
worst kind of appropriation -- a blank check.
"It was a blank check to the president to attack
anyone involved in the
Sept. 11 events -- anywhere, in any country, without regard
nation's long-term foreign policy, economic and national
interests, and without time limit," wrote Lee in
The Chronicle on Sept.
23. "In granting these overly broad powers, the Congress
has failed its
responsibility to understand the dimensions of its declaration."
-- -- -- --
ELEVEN MONTHS LATER, as we listen to the drumbeat for
war against Iraq,
many who called Lee a traitor want to put a hold on blank
According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, three quarters
American people think Bush should seek the approval of
going to war with Iraq.
Where were they when Barbara Lee was voting "no"
One of Lee's heroes, the late Republican Sen. Wayne
Morse of Oregon, was
one of two senators to vote against the 1964 resolution
that allowed the
United States to go to war in Vietnam. Morse said, "I
don't know why we
think, just because we're mighty, we have the right to
try to substitute
might for right."
Morse wasn't a relative, but I'm proud to say I met
-- -- -- --
BEFORE WE LAUNCH into an orgy of remembrance of Sept.
11, we should
remember how angry we felt in the days thereafter and
where that anger has
taken us. A resolute Bush administration assuaged some
of that anger by
destroying the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, and good
Now we're on the brink of an invasion of Iraq, a country
with fewer known
connections to al Qaeda than Saudi Arabia.
As an angry nonpacifist, I would have been happy to
turn the cheek of
Osama bin Laden and put a bullet in his ear. I had my
doubts about Lee,
who once proposed a "Department of Peace." But
the cries of "traitor" made
me think we were living in dangerous times, even in the
Bay Area, the only
place in the country where Lee could be re-elected.
The White House invasion talk continues, despite the
fact that the United
States has no international coalition to wage war on Iraq,
much less a way
to get tanks there to engage Saddam Hussein's tanks.
Bush couldn't even get Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani
to come to a meeting
of Iraqi dissidents. The Kurds are doing fine, without
once again as cannon fodder for American interests. As
for the British,
Gerald Kaufman of the Labor Party wrote in the Spectator
that there is
broad opposition in Parliament to an American strike in
"Bush, himself the most intellectually backward
American president of my
political lifetime, is surrounded by advisers whose bellicosity
exceeded only by their political, military and diplomatic
wrote Kaufman, with British understatement.
Hussein, on the other hand, has a coalition to forestall
a U.S. invasion,
and it even includes Iraq's traditional enemy, Iran. As
for weapons of
mass destruction, the Iraqi leader is most likely to use
them if he is
about to be overthrown. Let's hope Bush is engaging in
a Texas-size bluff.
If anything, it's good old American domestic self-interest
that will keep
the Bush war machine from rolling. We don't like the prospect
of gas lines
and, even though a majority of Americans support an invasion
of Iraq, only a
minority does if invasion means "significant"
We're a nation of chicken hawks, and never mind that
canary in the mine
shaft named Barbara Lee.
Rob Morse's column appears Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays
and Sundays. His
e-mail address is email@example.com.
Copyright 2002 SF Chronicle