Back in the day, as the expression goes, many radical activists considered liberals "rotten rock." It's a climber's term. It refers to saprolite, a weathered rock found on outcrops, that crumbles beneath the climber's fingers as she's holding on for dear life.
The association came from bitter experience--for instance, around sexual orientation:
In 1970 the issue came to a head when Betty Friedan, the President of the National Organization of Women (NOW), characterized advocates for the inclusion of lesbian issues in NOW's platform as a "lavender menace." Gloria Steinem [may she and her tribe be forever blessed] responded by [nailing it,] arguing that feminism was a revolution, not a public relations movement; and in 1971 NOW members voted overwhelmingly to affirm the legitimacy of lesbian oppression as a concern of feminism. [Commentary added, obviously.]
It must be hard for today's political activists to feel the horrific sense of betrayal that we felt at that moment. I'll just say that it came amid the early, heady days when feminists of all stripes still thought that such a thing as "sisterhood" existed among women who identified as feminists. We found out the hard way, hanging from the cliff, that it just wasn't so. There were many rotten rocks, some in surprising and powerful places.
That's the back story.
"Rotten rocks" succinctly describes the Democrats who voted with the immeasurably hypocritical GOP to censure MoveOn.org for its Petraeus ad. You can find their names here. They include Diane Feinstein, Max Baucus, Barbara Mikulski, Mary Landrieu, Joseph Lieberman, and Patrick Leahy. It also applies to Cantwell and Obama, who sat this one out. (Biden was on the campaign trail; he may be excused given his pole position. Lieberman needs no comment.)
There certainly used to be a code of ethics that made abandoning a buddy in a fight a real chicken-shit thing to do--the kind of thing that folks couldn't really come back from--sort of like sleeping with your best friend's lover.
Democrats like Feinstein and Leahy, et al., don't seem to get it that we are in a fight for our lives, the fight of our lifetimes, against a regime and a party that stands for everything our Constitution expressly stands against. MoveOn.org does get it, and doesn't hesitate to go directly after the heart of the beast, as I wrote yesterday. That is why Republicans must attack them in ever more spectacular ways. It is also why Democrats must stand with them, no matter what. That they still don't get this is completely mystifying to me.
The Republicans understand that. They also understand elementary campaign dynamics. This is not the point in a campaign for speaking to the nation as a whole. This is the time to speak to the base, who will be called to pick a candidate before the nation is called to pick a president.
Feinstein, Leahy, Mikulski, Landrieu (I really don't get that woman; she represents Louisiana and of course New Orleans)and the rest are choosing their votes for the wrong reasons and in a fog of fear. Instead of seeking to preserve their integrity, they appear to be seeking to appease someone. But who? Not the majority of the country, which gets the lies and charades and wants out of this war and craves a tough and unyielding leadership. Not principled Republicans, because as far as I've seen, there are none. Their frame of reference is a mystery to me, because if they fear demonization by the GOP, evidently they still haven't realized that that will come at them regardless of what they say or how they vote.
No. This capitulation to the rhetoric of a deadly serious foe amounts to "friendly fire," except that it's considered and deliberate, not accidental. These troops, safe in the Senate's padded chairs, just fired on their own front lines.