Walter Jones in Mother Jones and Why That is Good

Republican Walter Jones has been a conservative voice in the North Carolina congressional delegation since his election in 1994, for which he changed both parties and districts to run. Jones is so conservative that he won and accepted the "True Blue" award from the ultra-conservative Family Research Council. He even gained infamy by leading the charge to change "French Fries" to "Freedom Fries". But his switch from leading war supporter to critic has recently gained him praise from progressive circles.

The most recent and perhaps prominent praise was heaped on him in an article by Mother Jones in their newest edition. Unfortunately, only a small amount of that article is available for non-subscribers online. But what is available is enough for this discussion and is quite well written:

Jones wasn’t the first erstwhile war supporter in Congress to have second thoughts; lawmakers like Senator Chuck Hagel and North Carolina Rep. Howard Coble preceded him in that reversal[.] [snip] Yet among all the defections, Jones’ may be the most telling. The courtly 62-year-old Republican represents North Carolina’s flag-waving 3rd District, home to the U.S. Marine Corps’ Camp Lejeune. He is known to his constituents as a staunchly conservative Christian, and known to the nation and the world for his insistence, back during the lead-up to war in 2003, that House cafeterias replace French fries on the menu with “freedom fries.” He banished French toast, too. “A lot of us are very disappointed in the French attitude,” Jones said then.

I think the reason that his conversion was so much better than the others was the manner in which he first expressed his disgust at the war effort:

UNTIL THE CONGRESSMAN from North Carolina spoke, the hearings were proceeding routinely. The Armed Services Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives was convened on April 6 in a stately room in the Rayburn office building to consider the progress of the war in Iraq; much of the testimony was barely more animated than the paintings of deceased legislators adorning the walls. Richard Perle, a former Pentagon adviser and one of the war’s principal architects, had taken the witness chair. He was serene and unflappable as he answered questions about the Pentagon budget, oil prices, and the training of Iraqi troops. Then the chairman called on Rep. Walter B. Jones. Glaring at the witness, Jones quoted a statement from Perle’s testimony suggesting that the administration had been misled in its assessment of Iraq by “double agents planted by the regime.” The congressman’s voice quavered as he demanded an apology to the country. “It is just amazing to me how we as a Congress were told we had to remove this man, but the reason we were given was not accurate.” “I went to a Marine’s funeral that left a wife and three children, twins he never saw,” Jones said, his voice cracking as his eyes began to water. “And I’ll tell you—I apologize, Mr. Chairman, but I am just incensed at this statement.” He continued, “When you make a decision as a member of Congress and you know that decision is going to lead to the death of American boys and girls, some of us take that pretty seriously, and it’s very heavy on our hearts.”

That statement by Jones accelerated the anti-war movement to another gear. When it was only liberal Democrats protesting the war, Bush had an easy way out. He just blamed Democrats. Once Republicans got into the fold the calculus changed. Remembered that it was Republicans that finally convinced Nixon to step down not Democratic investigations or threats of impeachment. That is also why Clinton showed up to a press conference with a group of Democrats the day of his impeachment. Once someone on the other side breaks ranks the ability for real movement begins. Many progressives have launched into long rants on how the praising of Jones is a betrayal to Democratic values, including this one from Real Values. I understand the desire not to rush to congratulate Jones, but this is a destructive reaction that will only hurt progressives in the future. By not being willing to acknowledge when a member of Congress is doing good, progressives leave themselves looking like fanatics. They also deprive representatives of needed encouragement to take those positions.

The Republicans are known for their party loyalty. One reason they have such loyalty is that they punish those that disagree with them. Jones has been punished for his stance. He has lost funding and now faces a conservative primary challenger as a result of his conversion. Therefore, those of us that welcome his position and the fact that he had to break ranks to get there must support him. If we do not, we are giving Republicans more leverage in controlling their members. We as a movement must be able to praise Jones for his conversion. After all, we still have the ability to say we support this vote but do not support Jones because of his social positions. We should not let social positions blind us the way that abortion blinds those on the Right or we are no better than them.

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Comments

Should Santorum be on the cover next?

Should Mother Jones, a magazine claiming to be "committed to social justice" now put Rick Santorum on the cover because of his work on AIDS in Africa? Should progressives rally around Santorum? What about Jesse Helms. How about putting Jesse Helms on the cover for his new come to Jesus on AIDS in Africa after meeting with U2's Bono?

Blinded by social issues? Yes, I admit it I am blinded by a conviction to basic fairness for gay and lesbian Americans and our families. I will not praise a bigot like Walter B Jones, Jr.

Also, Jones doesnt give a crap about whether progressives are praising him or not. The attention he got from the left over his Iraq war flip-flop has resulted in him getting a primary challenger. Jones didnt decide to flip-flop on the war because he was hoping against hope that progressives would embrace.

Walter Jones has a display in front of his office. A moving tribute to the men and women lost in Iraq. This tribute shows the faces of the brave men and women who have been lost during this disaster. How many of those brave men and women also happen to be gay or lesbian. What a disservice to their memory that we allow a homophobic bigot like Jones to make political hay out of their death, in the same way he made political hay out of sending them to war in the first place.

He also

was one of 13 Republicans to vote against the Medicaid cuts. He didn't have to do that, but he did.
I'm not a supporter, just saying that he is doing a LOT to piss off the Republicans.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

Walter B Jones Jr's Record

Here is a run down on what Jones' ratings are by organizations fighting for social justice are:

http://realvalues.blogspot.com/2005/12/mother-jones-mother-fcker.html

From reproductive rights, to civil rights, to gender issues, to the environment, to health, to welfare and poverty, to civil liberties, to education, to gun control, Walter Jones Jr has a voting record of hostility to progressive values.

What bigger social justice position than war?

Why do we not just agree to disagree on this one? And I never said that I would vote for him. I merely would argue that an anti-war conservative is better than a pro-war one, which is what we get if Jones losses in the primary.

Agree to disagree

The beauty of the progressive world is that we actually encourage debate and dissent! Of course we can agree to disagree on this.

I disagree.

You'll get no agreeing from me today. I can't even agree with myself about whether to disagree or not. Then again, I might even disagree about that.

It's good to be a crotchedy old man.

:)

TG hit the nail on the head

with this: "an anti-war conservative is better than a pro-war one, which is what we get if Jones losses in the primary." I don't know much about this Dority character, but he doesn't sound any less conservative on social issues than Jones. He'd have to left of Jones on a number of issues before I'd rather see him win.

I dont care about Jones or Dority

First, Dority aint going to beat Walter B Jones Jr in a primary. Dority is a two time loser in a different Congressional district. The Republican Party apparatus will be firmly behind Jones. Dority will be lucky to grab more than 25 or 30% of the vote against Jones. In the end, however, I want to see a Democrat back in the 3rd. So if that means Dority bloodies up Jones, then all the better. In the end, I dont care about Dority or Jones. They are both uber-right wing candidates.

Jones-Dority

We are off-course and most Americans and North Carolinians can feel it. There has been little 'notice' of me, being a Democrat who is given no chance to fight the Repulican machine. I have a complete
passion for Eastern North Carolina, her people and welfare. When the Primary is over, neither Jone Jr, nor Dority will want to address me.
Issues will be discussed and common sense will prevail. The Republican 'bullies' will be taken to task. Both of them have come from the same District 1, that they lost in, to the 3rd. We are not a dumping gound for dissatisfied politicians. I'm here to pick a fight with the bullies and the lack of respect Jr. showed for the Military, which is seperate from the Administration now in office. I am a Democrat and we don't roll over here in North Carolina. We will re-develope our economy, enhance strong education, and "I will attack
any opposition to protecting our environment. We will build commerce
again, fish again, laugh and have 'Sunday Dinner' a family event
again." People will know that they have a Congressman who has the gumsion to protect their interest under all issues. If you are so worried about the Republican Contender, you might want to be concerned about a U.S Marine Democrat with attitude. We cannot let
our Country stay on this course. We will be righteous, again. We will have affective change. "In Righteousness, loyalty grows; then,
an inspired world will follow".
Warm Regards,
CWeber
Weber In The House 2006

It would be nice to have this verified

I'm not sure a candidate would not proof read. Granted, I DON'T, but I'm not running for office.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

It matches the tone and style

of what's on weberinthehouse.com. I spent a while browsing his website, and it's interesting (if badly in need of an overhaul as well).

Weber's views are an interesting mix. If I'm parsing him right, he's pro-choice, but also has very traditional notions of gender roles. He's pro-military but anti-war (at least anti-Iraq-war). He wants to rejuvinate and expand the existing Social Security program, but it doesn't sound like he wants to spend more on education. Put simply, he doesn't fit neatly into the standard Republican/Democrat typology. This may be his read on what it takes to win in NC-3, or they may be his own convictions (or both). Either way, he's definitely going to be running without the pre-packaged support of either political base.

I'm impressed by anyone who puts themselves out as a candidate for elected public office, and that applies to Weber. More power to him.