Of the handful of House members who cast conscience votes against further funding of the war in Iraq Friday, the most unexpected may well have been New York Democrat Michael McNulty.
A moderate Democrat from ther Albany area, McNulty voted in 2002 to authorize President Bush to attack Iraq. And he continues to be more identified with domestic issues — such as protecting Social Security — than foreign policy.
Unlike most of the other Democratic House members who refused to go along with Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plan to provide Bush with funding for the continuation of the war — while adding benchmarks and a timeline as tools to begin setting the course for an exit strategy — McNulty has never been identified as an anti-war activist in the House.
On Friday, when Pelosi’s bill came up for a vote, Democrats generally voted “yes” while Republicans generally voted “yes.” Only a Democratic handful of members broke ranks to make a clear anti-war statement.
The “no” voters included Democrats such as Ohio’s Dennis Kucinich, Georgia’s John Lewis, Maine’s Mike Michaud, and Californians Barbara Lee, Maxine Waters, Diane Watson and Lynn Woolsey, and Republicans such as Texan Ron Paul and Tennessee’s John Duncan.
And then there was Michael McNulty.
Why had this usually loyal Democrat joined the dissenters?
McNulty explained why in a short statement issued Friday afternoon:
In the spring of 1970, during my first term as Town Supervisor of Green Island, I testified against the War in Vietnam at a Congressional Field Hearing in Schenectady, New York.
Several months after that testimony, my brother, HM3 William F. McNulty, a Navy Medic, was killed in Quang Nam Province.
I have thought — many times since then — that if President Nixon had listened to the voices of reason back then, my brother Bill might still be alive.
As a Member of Congress today, I believe that the Iraq War will eventually be recorded as one of the biggest blunders in the history of warfare.
In October of 2002, I made a huge mistake in voting to give this President the authority to take military action in Iraq. I will not compound that error by voting to authorize this war’s continuation.
On the contrary, I will do all that is within my power to end this war, to bring our troops home, and to spare other families the pain that the McNulty family has endured every day since August 9th, 1970.
John Nichols’ new book is