Monday, July 31, 2006

Tasini's Challenge

With all the online lib attention focused on Ned Lamont's Senate challenge to Joe Lieberman in Connecticut, very little commentary, at least so far as I've seen (I've been busy with other stories of late), has been expended on Jonathan Tasini's campaign against Hillary Clinton in New York.

Now, it's true that Tasini has no shot of taking the Dem nomination from HRC, so sending libloggers to assist Tasini would be a waste of electoral energy. I'm sure that's the stated reason, anyway. But if Tasini did indeed have a chance, would the Lamontheads push for his campaign both online and in the field? Call me Mistah Doubty Face, but I seriously cannot see it. Even this post at Daily Kos elicited mixed opinion among the Dem faithful who commented; and it appears that even those supposedly against the Iraq war and the continued assaults on Lebanon and Gaza will probably vote for Hillary in the Fall. That's the way it usually breaks down, especially with a libceleb like Hillary in the race.

I knew Jonathan for a time back in my FAIR days. He was working with Teamsters for a Democratic Union, as I recall, and came by the FAIR offices on a fairly regular basis. He's very intelligent and committed to social justice issues, siding with working people against corporate rule. He'd make an excellent Senator for New York, at least in theory. Without serious and lasting structural changes in the American political system, candidates like Jonathan Tasini have no hope of advancing their platforms beyond speeches, interviews and press handouts. And even if, miracle of miracles, Jonathan did defeat Hillary in the primary and went on to win the general election, he'd then have to deal with the heavy machinery in DC, which is not friendly to outsiders or those attempting genuine reform. This is not to say that a few dents couldn't be made, but under existing conditions, minor dents would be like a revolution. Our corrupt, imperial state frowns upon such romantic notions when not simply crushing them. I fear that Sen. Tasini would be left drifting amid the debris.

Give Jonathan his props when it comes to Israel, though. As quoted in a recent Newsday story:

"'[Israel] has certainly committed many acts of brutality and violations of human rights and torture,' said Tasini, an American Jew who lived in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem from 1971 to 1980 with his father, a university professor.

"'Terrorism is a very heavily laden word,' he added in the interview with Room 8's Gur Tsabar, who is Israeli. 'Are your actions in violation of the international norms of the Geneva Convention, and so on? And so I think it's sad to say, but it's clear, yeah.'"

Hillary's mouthpiece, Howard Wolfson, responded that Jonathan's remarks were "outrageous, deeply offensive and beyond the pale." And of course, Hillary has yet to declare whether or not she'll debate Tasini. But something tells me that ain't gonna happen. Take it from Mistah Doubty Face.