Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) is truly an enigma. She's a strong political voice in the battle against cuts to SNAP (food stamps - the farm bill), advocate for women's reproductive rights, and for tackling the issues of the out-of-control sexual assaults in the military. That might lead conservatives to ask, "what is she thinking?"
Ms. Kirsten was a guest recently on All In with Chris Hayes, MSNBC.
The Senator's visit and discussion with Hayes have left me, a progressive, asking myself the same question as the conservatives: "What is she thinking?"
Hayes quizzes her about international issues -- Iran specifically. She signed onto a controversial proposed bill that would add sanctions against Iran after nearly 40 years of no formal relations with that country. We're in the midst of high ranking discussions to monitor the Iranian nuclear program. Gillibrand and Congress knows damn well that increased sanctions during the talks could lead to a shutting down of the negotiations. Perhaps even worse -- a potential war. Frankly, this move is insane. And she backed it. What is she thinking?
She admits that sanctions have worked in the past ("Sanctions are better than war. Sanctions got us to the peace table" she admits.) But Hayes points out that the people most hurt by sanctions are the woman and children of Iran, not the politicians who have some say. So why more sanctions and why now despite the White House saying increased sanctions at this point are unhelpful and will break up these historic talks? What is she thinking?
The NY senator deflects addressing that by somehow equating Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's stated desire to wipe Israel off the face of the earth as a motivation for wanting to step up pressure on Iran. Only problem with that is Ahmadinejad was voted out of office and there are now formalized talks going on with an entirely different leader (Leader Hassan Rouhani) and an entirely different cabinet. What is she thinking?
Follow that with a very composed senator G. saying she wants to find a way to prevent going to war with Iran. Yet her backing the increased sanctions bill right now, despite the President's warning of the incendiary outcome of this move at this time would possibly lead us into war. And she still backed it. What is she thinking?
When Chris Hayes challenges her on whether Iran with a nuclear weapon would make Israel or the U.S. a first strike target, she affirms that belief, citing, "At some point you have to take Iran at its word."
Whose word? The former leader or the current leader, who's shown olive branches to both Israel - calling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to wish Israel Happy New Year on Rosh Hashana and the U.S. by putting out the word of his willingness to open negotiations on nuclear talks after 40 years of icy non-recognition? What is she thinking?
I come back to Gillibrand saying in the clip below, "At some point you have to believe what they say. You have to take them at their word." I agree with her there. Then why isn't that time now? They're joining us at the peace table discussing a ceasing of the Iranian nuclear program. You can't have it both ways. Either you're going to take them at their word at the peace table or you're not. What is she thinking?
Watch the video interview below and ask yourself the same thing. Here's a bright, articulate elected official with some very precise attitudes. After watching this, see if you too are left scratching your head and asking yourself, as you would with Michele Bachmann, What is she thinking?