To the editor:
Congressman James Langevin was fortunate that WNAC/WPRI excluded Abel Collins from its debate for second-district congressional candidates. On Oct. 9, neither the interviewers nor the Republican candidate challenged Langevin’s misinformation. Some examples:
Declaring his opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Langevin said, “I want to see our troops brought home as soon as possible.” The truth is that in 2005 he voted with Republican Leader Tom Delay to continue the Iraq war indefinitely (2005 Roll Calls 220, 397, 648) and to authorize attacks on other countries whenever President Bush saw fit (2005 Roll Call 285). In 2009, he was still voting to continue the wars (2009 Roll Call 265) and in 2011, he refused to support proposals by Representatives Barbara Lee, James McGovern and others for a responsible end to the war in Afghanistan.
When Langevin proclaimed his support for embryonic stem cell research, no one reminded him that he had actually voted five times to outlaw it, with punishments of 10 years in prison (2001 Roll Calls 300, 302, 303, 304 and 2003 Roll Call 39). Fortunately, this never passed the Senate.
In 2001, Langevin voted for the so-called “Patriot Act.” Later, he admitted that he hadn’t read it, and said he had problems with it. But last year he voted to extend some of its worst features (2011 Roll Call 36).
Last December, Langevin voted for the infamous NDAA, which authorized the indefinite military detention without trial, even of American citizens (2011 Roll Call 932) – in blatant violation of the U.S. Constitution.
When Langevin said he was a “moderate” on abortion, no one brought up his proposal at the 1986 R.I. Constitutional Convention. He wanted to add a draconian ban to the R.I. Constitution with no exception for rape, incest or the life of the mother. It would have outlawed types of birth control and in-vitro fertilization. This was approved by the convention. The only reason it is not now a part of the R.I. Constitution is that R.I. voters rejected it.
Langevin announced that, “I have been a strong champion of getting people the right skills to do the jobs that are available.” But when he was in the R.I. House, he voted repeatedly (in 1989, 1990, 1991) to lower educational standards by granting teaching certificates to candidates who flunk the teachers’ test.
Keeping legitimate candidates out of debates is not good for democracy. While WNAC excluded independent Abel Collins, the presidential debates controlled by the Democrat and Republican parties excluded Libertarian Gary Johnson, Green candidate Jill Stein and other qualified candidates. This protected Barack Obama and Mitt Romney from challenges to their fibs.