July 18th, 2007 by alex
Last week, Senator Hillary Clinton made a statement at the NAACP debate that cleared up the mystery about who has been attempting to limit my participation in Democratic debates and forums.
When CNN, along with the Manchester Union Leader and WMUR TV, the Hearst affiliate, did not invite me to their prospective debates scheduled to begin in New Hampshire on June 6, I was mystified by so unusual a decision taken by respected national media organizations. Primary debates in earlier presidential election cycles had included all viable candidates. My staff asked these media companies why I was being excluded. They were told that the Senator did not meet their criteria to participate in the debates. But when asked, they would not tell us their criteria.
We issued a press release outlining my leadership bona fides: forcing an end to the military draft; ending nuclear testing in the North Pacific; forcing a decision by Congress to build the Alaska pipeline; and releasing the Pentagon Papers, risking censure and possibly prison. The resulting Supreme Court case in 1972 made it clear that the protection of the Speech and Debate clause of the Constitution extended to all members of Congress, protecting them from being challenged by the Executive or the Judiciary if they choose to reveal secret information that the American people should know. Tragically, the protection afforded by that Supreme Court decision has never been employed by any member of Congress, particularly with respect to members’ suspicions that the White House was cooking the intelligence to make the case for the U.S. preemptive invasion of Iraq.
My campaign’s press release made clear that these media companies were engaging in censorship and un-American conduct by excluding me from their public debates. The public’s overwhelming reaction to their unfairness forced them to reverse their earlier decision and invite me.
An even more surprising mystery occurred when MoveOn.org, the progressive antiwar organization, decided not to include me in their online Town Meeting, even though all the other seven Democratic candidates were included. They gave as a reason that I did not receive a sufficient number of votes from their membership. Since I’ve been absent from the public arena for over a generation, I would venture to say that 99% of their membership under forty did not know who I was prior to the DNC winter meeting and the South Carolina debate. However, my antiwar bona fides include opposing the Vietnam War and publicly opposing the Iraq war beginning in the spring of 2002, six months before the Congress even voted on the issue.
The final mystery occurred in the last ten days when the Human Rights Campaign chose not to invite me to their August candidate forum. Their decision was somewhat bizarre since my positions on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights are by far the most progressive of any presidential candidate. The essence of HRC is justice and civil rights. When supporters learned of my exclusion, there was such an outcry that I was invited to the forum within 24 hours.
Why would national organizations seek to keep a bona fide national leader out of debates and forums that would permit the public to fully evaluate Democratic presidential candidates? The comment by Senator Clinton in an exchange with Senator Edwards last Thursday in Detroit following the NAACP debate has now solved the mystery:
The exchange.
Senator John Edwards: “We should try to have a more serious, and a smaller group.”
Senator Hillary Clinton: “There was an attempt by our campaign to do that, it got, somehow, detoured. We’ve gotta get back to it….our guys should talk.”
In an apparent attempt to shift blame to Senator Edwards when questioned about her comment the next day in New Hampshire, Senator Clinton said:
Senator Hillary Clinton: “I think he (Senator Edwards) has some ideas about what he’d like to do.”
Rather than accepting responsibility for her efforts to limit my participation in public debates, Senator Clinton deflected the blame onto Senator Edwards. That’s an interesting character trait for a presidential candidate.