The Spine

A Leading Senator?


Upon reading in Saturday's Times a front page article, by Mark Mazzetti and headlined "Leading Senator Assails President Over Iran Stance," I rushed to the website of Senator John (Jay) D. Rockefeller IV to see what accomplishments of his I hadn't known of that made him a truly "leading" senator. Now that I have looked, I still haven't a clue. He's "worked hard" and "fought" (even "tirelessly") and "co-sponsored" and "consistently supported" and "been instrumental" for all kinds of white bread liberal legislation which, generally, are to my liking. But there's nothing in this 21-year old record to justify that portentous adjective. Don't get me wrong: Jay is a fine public servant. He was governor of West Virginia when the state was really in the dumps, and he helped revive it.

Still, as a senator, he's not been much. It's axiomatic, of course, that the opposition of the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee to anything George Bush wants to do abroad is more important than the opposition of a freshman senator. Yet Rockefeller has certainly not been specific in his opposition. Mazzetti points out that Rockefeller "did not say which aspects of the Bush administration's case against Iran were not supported by solid intelligence." Rockefeller asserted that he didn't "think that policy makers in this administration particularly understand Iran." Did Jay offer a clue to his alternative understanding? Not a clue, except that the U.S. has an uncompromising stance toward the regime in Tehran. Which means, I suppose, that the senator has a compromising position. On what specifically?

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