One strange man, one strange vote

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed HR 203, a Resolution Condemning the persecution of labor rights advocates in Iran. The dictatorial regime of the mad mullahs has been arresting labor leaders without legal charge or trial, so the resolution was a no-brainer and passed 418-1, with 12 not voting and 1 voting “Present.”

Now, I don’t fault the non-voters. It was a resolution, not legislation; it was certain to pass by a landslide and will have little direct effect on the behavior of the Iranian regime. Some members are always either out of town, or sick, or engaged in other public business for such votes, and I don’t blame them at all.

There are two very odd votes, however. One was the only vote against the resolution, cast by Rep. Ron Paul. Now I understand, as few of his supporters do, that Rep. Paul believes in a policy of total non-engagement in foreign affairs. He doesn’t support basing our troops anywhere outside our borders, or of any military action where we are not responding to a direct attack.

It’s the old isolationist Libertarian position, one which, had it been applied during the Cold War, would have resulted in a communist takeover of any country they wished to annex without so much as a threat from the United States. I daresay most of those who profess support for Paul’s Presidential candidacy do not understand this, but it isn’t even relevant. It doesn’t require military intervention to condemn oppression, just a voice in support of a resolution. Ron Paul refused and voted against it.

The other strange vote is “Present,” cast by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, another fringe candidate for President, but on the Democratic side. Now, we know that Kucinich has recently visited Syria, where he sucked up to the murderous dictator Assad, so maybe he feels warmly towards the oppressors in Iran, too. But he could have had the guts to vote “No,” too, like Paul did. Despite his appeals to Big Labor in this country, he couldn’t bring himself to vote to condemn the oppression of labor activists in Iran, but he couldn’t bring himself to vote against it, either. So, he voted “Present.”

What sort of “vote” is “Present,” anyway? It is effectively an abstention, expressing no opinion at all. What a courageous stand from Kucinich! But if you are only planning to abstain, why even bother voting?

In any case, both men are far from the mainstream of thought, not only in the Congress, but in the entire free world. Yet, they are recognized Presidential candidates – Paul has even raised more money in the latest quarter than McCain, Richardson, Biden, Dodd, Huckabee, and was only about $2 million short of John Edwards’ total.

People have different definitions of “extremism,” but does any rational person believe refusing to condemn the violent oppression of peaceful labor leaders fails to meet their standard?

I’m ready to listen.

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