MoveOn, moving in after the fact

After standing on the sidelines when it mattered, MoveOn makes a late play on the bankruptcy bill.

Published April 12, 2005 2:44PM (EDT)

The House of Representatives this week takes up the bankruptcy bill the Senate passed last month, and MoveOn wants its members to be on top of it.

Too bad MoveOn wasn't.

In an email pitch to MoveOn members, Tom Matzzie and the MoveOn PAC team say that Congress "needs to know that a vote for this bill will be an embarrassing vote siding with credit card companies over America's families." That's why MoveOn's PAC is asking MoveOn members to pledge money to run radio ads taking members of Congress to task for voting in favor of the bill -- but only after the bill passes.

Maybe it's a matter of better late than never, but when progressives had their best shot at stopping the bankruptcy bill -- when it was still working its way through the Senate -- MoveOn was nowhere to be found. MoveOn's Eli Pariser told War Room back in March that the group didn't try to stop the bankruptcy bill because it thought the fight was hopeless. "Because of the solid Republican support for the bill, terrible though the bill is, it wasn't something that we could make a difference by weighing in on," Pariser said then.

There's one way to be sure of that: Don't try. Even MoveOn's late play has a feeling of half-heartedness to it. In collecting pledges, MoveOn assures its members that the pledges aren't, you know, promises. "This is an important action because a big 'Pledge Fund' will send a signal to members of Congress before they vote that there could be consequences for their actions," MoveOn says in its Web site solicitation. But down at the bottom of the page, there's this disclaimer: "There is no obligation from this pledge. We will e-mail you after the vote and ask you to help us meet the budget for the campaign. You can choose to fulfill all, part, or none of your pledge then."

On those terms, MoveOn has collected "pledges" of $444,000. Members of Congress must be quaking in their boots.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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