Ed Markey Annoys Literally Everyone by Voting ‘Present’ on Syrian Resolution

The Senator didn’t vote yes or no on the measure, which the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved.

Senator Ed Markey has inspired some head-scratching and even cries of “cowardice” for voting “present” on a resolution authorizing President Obama to use force against the Syrian regime.

Markey told the Boston Globe he was worried about language that was added to the resolution that might make it too broad, but he didn’t have enough information for an outright “no.” Even so, it’s the kind of vote that annoys both sides in the debate. The rest of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee narrowly approved the measure, intended to punish the Syrian regime for using chemical weapons against its own citizens, with a 10-7 vote that sets it up for a showdown in the full Senate. Markey said he’ll have a definitive vote then. (Update: Markey’s full statement on the vote is here.)

Markey seems to have been in an awkward position. He sits in the seat held by now-Secretary of State John Kerry, who urged the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to give the resolution their approval. It would have made an outright “no” vote a bit awkward.

Markey had earlier demanded that the President seek congressional approval before using military force. That makes his “present” vote read a bit like, “You better ask my opinion on this, but meh, I don’t really have one.”

Markey’s statement, issued last week, suggested (as has his vote) that he’s seeking debate on the resolution, but doesn’t have a strong stance for or against it:

The use of chemical weapons is a heinous and despicable act that appears to be the work of a brutal dictator who has quashed dissent and killed innocent men, women, and children. We must be mindful, however, of the complexities of the situation in Syria. The aftermath of a U.S. strike on targets in Syria is difficult to predict, with negative consequences that may be beyond our capability to control. That’s why I am looking forward to a thorough, detailed debate that hears all sides.

But the fact that he hasn’t made up his mind doesn’t make his “present” vote any less of a political liability. Former Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez reprised his role as Markey’s opponent and took to Twitter to slam him on his vote:

Meanwhile conservative pundit Michael Graham tried to rub it in the faces of  Massachusetts Democrats angered by Markey’s lack of support for the President, noting that Gomez probably would have voted with the Democrats had we elected him.

A look at how the rest of the Senate committee voted, of course, shows that this sort of oversimplifies the issue as the yes and no votes didn’t follow any particular party line. Even so, you can expect Markey to hear about it from whomever faces him in his not-so-distant reelection campaign

  • Jane.Doe

    Dear Michael Graham – 60% of the American people wanted their senators to vote NO on this…your tweet is idiotic.

    • adam

      You missed the point Jane…Markey didn’t vote yes or no…and he won the senate seat. He didn’t have the fortitude to vote up or down. He voted the way Obama used to…present…he is an embarrassment.

      • dixhandley

        He’s a democrat. Worse, he’s a liberal without balls!

    • John Doe

      …what percent, Jane, do you think wanted him to vote “Present?”

  • dixhandley

    God I hate liberals. They’re no better than Nazis. In fact they are Nazis. A liberal supporting an illegal war, why doesn’t this shock me!

  • PFL1982

    Gabriel WHO? But I’m disappointed that Markey didn’t show some balls and vote no.

    • ohio man

      Gabriel Gomez is worse! He’s tweeting about Markey while at the very same time not telling anyone how he would have voted! Why don’t you do everyone a favor and call him and ask him how he would have voted so that he’s on the record if he runs again?

      Michael Graham doesn’t know how Gomez would have voted. There were 5 Republicans who voted no, but only 3 who voted yes (i.e. with Obama).

  • FatherOctavian

    The decision on whether to attack another country is too important to vote “present”.

  • tndjinn

    He could’ve voted yes to this and backed out of the main vote for many reasons. Really all the AUMF vote did was allow it to go to the floor which makes it particularly cowardly even if he’s against this.

  • David2020

    What this reflects is that there isn’t sufficient evidence of Assad’s guilt to vote “yes”. At least not yet. And so, if forced to vote on the evidence adduced to date, Senator Markey should have voted “no”.

    The wardrums are drumming, the “liberal” media are out for blood, and yet what evidence do they really have that rebuts the intuitive understanding that Assad would have everything to lose by using chemical weapons and that the rebels would have everything to gain by making it appear that he had?

    If they’ve got it, make it public. Let’s not be bamboozled again.

    • John Doe

      This is just a vote to bring it to the floor. It is not a vote to authorize any action. Do you not realize this? Do you not know how this works? The “present” vote is a clear lack of leadership, by a clear career politician that is much more concerned about his reelection than his current responsibilities.

      • David2020

        And do you not realize that I was saying exactly that? He should have voted “no” in order to slow the rush to judgment.

        Now, maybe you are saying he should have voted “yes” regardless of his beliefs. To me, that would have fit your definition of a “clear lack of leadership” every bit as much as — maybe even more than — his “present” vote.

        • John Doe

          I’m just saying he should have voted. Period. “Present” is not a vote, and I (frankly) do not know why it is even allowed – other than to offer someone a way to hide (cowardice). Ironically, if someone votes “present” I do not even know why they bother showing up!

          • David2020

            I agree.