Reading at the Crossroads

Reading at the Crossroads is an archive for columns and letters which appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star. I also blog here when my patience is exhausted by what I feel is irritating, irrational and/or ironic in life. --gary daily

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Location: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States

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Saturday, August 04, 2007

CROSSROADS COMMENT -- Ellsworth's War Vote and Even More

[This letter appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star, Aug. 4, 2007]

Ask Ellsworth about war vote


Rep. Brad Ellsworth (Democrat, Eighth Congressional District, Indiana) comes to town every so often. If he will stop talking to the members of the Chamber of Commerce for a minute and have a word with you, ask him about his July 12 vote on H.R. 2956. This bill, the “Responsible Redeployment from Iraq Act,” required the Secretary of Defense to commence the reduction of the number of United States Armed Forces in Iraq to a limited presence by April 1, 2008.

Yeah, that’s right, April 2008, not sometime in 2009, or five or 10 years down the no-end-in-sight, bloody, dead-end road Bush is taking us.

In talking with Ellsworth, he probably will not volunteer how it was that he voted “no” on this legislation. In doing so, he voted with the Bush Protection Party, the Republicans of Indiana. The other four Democrats in the Indiana delegation to the House voted “yes.” Even without Ellsworth’s vote the bill passed 223 to 201 – 219 of those “yes” votes were cast by Democrats.

If pressed on this, Congressman Ellsworth may mumble something about giving General Petreaus more time to turn the situation in Iraq around. In other words, Ellsworth supports the “more war in Iraq is the one and only answer” gang.

The leadership of the Democratic Party of Vigo County is always ready with handshakes and smiles for Ellsworth. With only two notable exceptions, I can’t think of any member of this locally dominant political organization who has spoken out on the war – for or against. The rest have outsourced their responsibility to lead and educate the public on the war issue. This is their stance even though there are local heroes dying in the dust of Baghdad and local income tax dollars being tossed willy-nilly into the dry winds of Iraq.

Voters in Vigo County who feel the war for all intents and purposes is over and want to end this tragedy and disaster need to do a lot of re-thinking about Mr. Ellsworth and his slavish support of the war. And our timid Democratic and Republican leaders should be given every opportunity to take a public stand on the war. The local press and media could be a big help with this.

Shouldn’t our elected and party leaders be given a chance to fully and freely express their views on the Iraq war? If they’re not given this chance or fail to provide a straight answer, voters may start getting the feeling that what they are saying to us privately and individually is not quite what they are willing to tell the community publicly.

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Since this vote Ellsworth has cast another important vote with the Republican minority, this one on the CHAMP Act. Here's what the AARP had to say on this legislation:

"AARP applauds those Members of Congress who voted for the CHAMP Act. These lawmakers put the needs of older Americans and low–income children ahead of special interests. SCHIP and Medicare are critical for the health care of this country and the CHAMP Act makes necessary improvements to both programs. We look forward to working with Congress to put a bill on the President’s desk before SCHIP expires in September.

"We are disappointed by the Members of Congress who voted against strengthening health care for children and improving Medicare. As Congress leaves for vacation, some lawmakers chose to reject the opportunity to strengthen Medicare and provide health insurance for millions of eligible children who are without health coverage. When SCHIP reauthorization and Medicare legislation return to the floor for final approval, we hope those members will rethink their vote against such a critical bill."

Is Ellsworth thinking about pulling a Joe Lieberman? Maybe he should.

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