Shock and Awe (Shucks): War Comes Home


The Iraq war wound its way into today’s New York City campaign chatter, with Norman Siegel slamming Mayor Mike for refusing to take a position on the war and Gifford Miller accusing Anthony Weiner of airbrushing his record on the conflict.

The knee-jerk reaction, as we all know, is “What the hell does the Iraq war have to do with New York City?” After all, several New Yorkers have died in the war, the hawks’ rationale puts Ground Zero at center stage, one of the largest anti-war demonstrations took place here in February 2003, Colin Powell could have taken the 4 train to make his infamous false intel presentation to the Security Council, and about a year ago the Republicans chose New York to make a four-day/four-night defense of their invasion and occupation. Yeah, man, what does Iraq have to do with New York?

The mayor, of course, recently dismissed it as “not a local issue.” To that Siegel, still PO’d about the arrests of demonstrators during RNC 2004, sez: “The Mayor is dead wrong. . . . When our sons and daughters are going off to fight a war that the majority of New Yorkers disagree with, the war in Iraq is a local issue. When military recruiters come into our public schools and encourage our young men and women to sign up for the military, it’s clearly a local issue.”

Bloomberg’s defenders might say that his critics want it both ways. The Democrats have been chiding Bloomberg for failing to fight hard enough for New York City’s fair share of funding in Washington. It might have been tough for Bloomy to ask Dubya for more dough with one hand and then use the other to slap the prez around over the war. It also just might have been the right thing to do.

At least the mayor didn’t vote for the war; Weiner did. He’s claimed he was given bad intelligence. But there were plenty of questions about the intel even before Weiner’s October 2002 pro-war vote. This morning on WBAI the congressman was asked (according to a partial transcript offered by the Miller campaign) “why did you not know what you now know?”

“Because I was lied to by the administration,” Weiner replied. So will he continue to trust the administration? “No, that’s why I voted against every war supplemental since.” If he meant since the October 2002 vote for war, Weiner was forgetting—and Miller’s campaign was only too happy to point out—his vote in April 2003 for the $79 billion supplemental Iraq funding bill. (It’s worth noting that only nine Democrats voted against it in the House.) Or maybe Weiner meant since it became clear the war was based on deeply flawed (or even faked) intelligence. But as late as August 2003 Weiner told the New York Sun, “Of course I was misled, but it wouldn’t have changed my vote. I said at the time that I was not persuaded that Iraq was building nuclear capacity.”

A clear storyline of this late stage of the Democratic primary race is that Miller and Weiner need to try to knock one another down. Each is looking for the smoking gun in the other’s stockpile of votes and statements. Sound familiar?