What’s going on with New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand these days? For someone who once talked about the need to return to comity and bipartisanship in the upper chamber, she’s not showing many signs of it this year. In one of the latest examples, the Washington Free Beacon highlights the curious about-face she’s done on the question of Boycott, Divest and Sanction when it comes to Israel.
As of this point, Gillibrand is going to be opposing the bipartisan Israel Anti-Boycott Act currently making its way through Congress. Her reasoning on this is supposedly based on the need to defend free speech and open debate, but as the Free Beacon points out, that’s not an entirely consistent position for her based on some previous arguments she’s made.
Following her meeting with the ACLU, Gillibrand said, “I would never support any bill that chills free speech,” and announced she would not support the legislation “in its current form.”
Gillibrand said the language had to be rewritten “to be very specific that someone who is in favor of BDS can speak their mind and someone who’s against BDS can speak their mind—that you are always allowed to speak your mind.”
In an op-ed for the Jewish newspaper Forward, Gillibrand defended her decision further.
We probably shouldn’t be terribly surprised to find that the ACLU is tied up in this mix, particularly given some of their other antisemitic leaning positions over the years. As the article goes on to point out, in the past Gillibrand has felt quite free to impose restrictions on other constitutionally assured rights, comparing them to how acceptable it is to restrict “dangerous speech” in some cases. That makes the choice to use the First Amendment as a shield to oppose the BDS movement to America’s most loyal ally suspect at best.
It also begs the question of how cozy things will be between Gillibrand and her partner, the senior Senator from New York. Keep in mind that both Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer were co-sponsors of the anti-BDS bill originally. Leaving Chuck hanging out in the breeze this way might make for some uncomfortable plane rides together back and forth from New York to Washington.
But the motivation for this should be fairly clear by now. There’s already a concerted effort underway in the Democratic Party to build some buzz about how Gillibrand and Kamala Harris are the vibrant and “exciting” new leaders who will blaze a path to victory for the Dems in 2020. That should be an interesting journey and conservatives should have a field day when they begin the real oppo research into Gillibrand’s past.
Those of us in New York remember a very different Kirsten Gillibrand when she was representing the somewhat more conservative, upstate 20th district. Back then she was about as close to a “clinging to your God and guns” Democrat as you could find anywhere in the northeast. But those positions began to shift as she moved into the Senate and needed to attract broader liberal support from New York City. And now that she’s being discussed as a national candidate and courting the support of the ACLU the transition seems to be complete.
Still, the internet has a long memory. If this is how Gillibrand plans on playing it she’ll have plenty to answer for to liberals who hear more about her roots.