Sunday, June 15, 2008

Rep. Robert Wexler, A Political Star to Watch

Rep. Robert Wexler, from Florida's 19 District, is a guy to watch. He did an amazing job at the Rules Committee meeting two weeks ago, arguing Harold Ickes to silence. (I transcribed that exchange here.) He became my hero then.

Last week, he became the only other Democrat to sign on with Kucinich's bill to impeach George Bush. Another good marker. The Miami Herald reports as follows:

According to Wexler, Kucinich has outlined "numerous allegations against President Bush, including his creation of a massive propaganda campaign to mislead the nation into war with Iraq, the illegal use of torture during interrogation, the authorization of a warrantless wiretapping program on American citizens, and the repetitive use of signing statements to negate legislation passed by Congress."

"President Bush deliberately created a massive propaganda campaign to sell the war in Iraq to the American people and the charges detailed in this impeachment resolution indicate an unprecedented abuse of executive power," said Wexler, who chairs Barack Obama's Florida campaign. "A decision by Congress to pursue impeachment is not an option, it is a sworn duty....Our Founding Fathers bestowed upon Congress the power of impeachment, and it is now time that we use it to defend the rule of law from this corrupt Administration."

And then I found this report from early last week, a week ago Monday, the day before the primary ended - a personal, riveting report on a town meeting Wexler held in his home district in FL, defending his roll in the Rules Committee, his support for Obama, and the candidates' support for Israel. Here's a quote:

The next lady said "I was ashamed to see your disgraceful performance on Saturday." Lots of groans. "How could you represent your constituency, while voting to take away 50% of its votes?" He answered that no one had fought harder against Howard Dean when the DNC originally tried to take away Florida's delegates, but they'd voted, and the primary campaign began in earnest, and the candidates signed a pledge, and it was unfair to bait and switch, by changing the rules halfway through. More applause.

There were other policy-related questions, until nearly the last questioner revisited Obama. "Could you please tell us more specifically why you chose Obama over Hillary?" Lots of "Yeahs!"

Congressman Wexler hit this one out of the park: "I support Barack Obama because he showed better judgment on the Iraq War, because he has remained more forcefully against it. I support him because of his stand on ethics reform, and commitment to engaging our enemies. I support him because he speaks truth to power. He spoke in front of a largely Cuban-American organization in Miami. Everyone has told this organization the same thing for 40 years. 'We're going to continue the embargo against Cuba, no monetary remittances there, no anything.' Whether or not it works, that's all any politician dares to say. Obama suggested to them we engage with Raul Castro, and take steps towards ending the embargo. Obama told a crowd in Detroit that we should increase fuel efficiency standards, and he told members of Martin Luther King's church in Atlanta that we all share some of the blame for some of the race problems in America today."

And it occurred to me, this is exactly what Congressman Wexler was doing, and did on Saturday. He was speaking forcefully and with conviction in the face of hostility. He took a courageous stand, speaking truth to power. He spoke passionately for his candidate, and for what was fair, despite the fact that it was not what his constituents necessarily wanted to hear.
Wexler is someone to watch. His legal training was evident and he had moral authority in his arguing with the Rules Committee. Obama is smart to have this guy advocate - not just because of Wexler's intelligence, but because of his standing. It was the best political, legal theater since David Boies argued before the Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore.

No comments: