Dear Senator McConnell,
My cousin joined a Facebook Group this morning called Let’s find 1 million people who actually SUPPORT our Veterans. (Isn’t it cool how Facebook enables us to watch what our friends and family do and it isn’t even considered stalking). I didn’t click on the group because I’m often disappointed to discover that people say they support troops and/or veterans when, in fact, the only support they show is lip service possibly with a little flag waving on the side. Instead of setting myself up to be disappointed, I decided I would actually do something in my cousin's honor.
I’ve protested wars. I’ve written to people who served when my protesting didn’t do much good. I’ve had Fort Knox soldiers over for meals, and I’ve written to politicians (I’m sure you must remember my letters) asking that they not send our young people to war unless absolutely necessary. In the past, I tracked down many homeless vets to give them food, pocket change, gloves, etc, and I wrote about them – even created a homeless group on Gather where we could collect stories and articles about them all in one place. I’m sad to say that I couldn’t afford to personally send the equipment they didn’t have the first few years of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars – but you can believe I would have sent it if I had had the money. I’ve even stared into the frightened or dead eyes of young men who came home changed forever, and tried my best to console them.
Since you represent me, and your votes in the Senate are ultimately the most I can offer troops and veterans, I decided to check out what I have really done--via you--for them. I’m not real pleased with what I found. I have the comfort of knowing that I voted for your opponents but, alas, that didn’t really do the troops much good.
You voted to send troops into Iraq under false pretenses and have yet –at least that I can find—to apologize for that. Please direct me to those apologies if I missed them because I sure would like to be wrong about this.
In 2004, you countered an amendment that Senator Ted Kennedy proposed asking that Bush submit reports to Congress on the strategy in Iraq. Opponents (mostly Democrats, of course) thought your amendment was not strong enough because it failed to require an estimate of troops needed in the future. I’m still confused by your position on this. For those who want to support the troops, will you ever explain why you didn’t think planning ahead was important?
In 2007, you seemed (at least to me) to only muddy the waters when you and Harry Reid tried to come to some sort of agreement regarding how to debate nonbinding resolutions regarding the surge. If I understand correctly, you pretended this had to be done quickly but then wanted each of the three resolutions to require sixty votes to pass. In the end, you and Reid couldn’t come to an agreement and Republicans blocked that bill (sounds familiar, huh?) and you played it off like it wasn’t important. It came up again, without much debate, and you guys filibustered, holding Harry Reid hostage to a promise that the Senate would continue to fund, without further debate, a war started on lies. Sigh. In all honesty, this feels more like supporting the people who wanted the war than it does like supporting the troops.
And then, in 2007, you pulled what looks like bullying tactics to me by threatening to block a Democratic effort to include a date for troop withdrawal in the Iraq spending bill and then said something akin to, “Oh, never mind, my buddy will veto anyway.” Again, sending those kids into a war based on lies and then refusing to fund them if the funding included a plan to get them out of a war they should never have been sent to in the first place does not seem like support to me.
Since I’m no expert, I checked to see how experts rated you. Here are the results:
2007-2008 In 2007-2008 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America gave Senator McConnell a grade of B.
2006 Senator McConnell supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans 60 percent in 2006.
2006 In 2006 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America gave Senator McConnell a grade of D.
2006 Senator McConnell sponsored or co-sponsored 0 percent of the legislation favored by the The Retired Enlisted Association in 2006.
2005 Senator McConnell supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans 33 percent in 2005.
2004 Senator McConnell supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans 0 percent in 2004.
2004 Senator McConnell supported the interests of the The Retired Enlisted Association 0 percent in 2004.
2003-2004 Senator McConnell supported the interests of the Vietnam Veterans of America 50 percent in 2003-2004.
2003 Senator McConnell supported the interests of the The American Legion 100 percent in 2003.
2001 Senator McConnell supported the interests of the Vietnam Veterans of America 76 percent in 2001.
1999 Senator McConnell supported the interests of the Disabled American Veterans 33 percent in 1999.
1997-1998 Senator McConnell supported the interests of the Vietnam Veterans of America 0 percent in 1997-1998.
1989-1990 On the votes that the Vietnam Veterans of America considered to be the most important in 1989-1990 , Senator McConnell voted their preferred position 50 percent of the time.
I have one statement about this list, and one question. If this were my report card, I would have been grounded, and not very proud to claim it. My question – how’d you manage to get on the good side of The American Legion?
Did you really say, “Nobody is happy about losing lives, but remember, these are not draftees, these are full-time professional soldiers”? To whom were you referring? The kids who joined because they couldn’t afford college? The ones who volunteered because they were told they’d be next on the list anyway but would get a bonus if they went ahead and volunteered, only to be sent home days short of the time required to get that bonus and then sent back out weeks later? Surely, not the ones who joined before they knew they would have to serve under Commander in Thief Bush, who would send them into a senseless war? Please, tell me you meant the Blackwater guys.
Filibuster. I know it’s a sore topic these days but I have to bring it up. TWICE you filibustered Senator Webb’s amendments to restore proper troop rotation and rest between tours? Seriously? Nope. There is no way I can consider this supporting the troops.
My cousin has the biggest heart you’d ever hope to encounter and breaking it by telling her just exactly how she supports the troops through you is going to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Worse even, I think she might have voted for you.
Senator Mitch McConnell repeatedly refused to provide any responses to citizens on the issues through the 2008 Political Courage Test when asked to do so by national leaders of the political parties, prominent members of the media, Project Vote Smart President Richard Kimball, and Project Vote Smart staff. What is the political courage test?