October 14, 2009

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Jeez, all we need now is one less liberal to push those damn Blue Dogs into doing the right thing. From Rep. Wexler's site:

“Today, I am announcing that I will be accepting the position of president of the Center for Middle East Peace and will leave Congress effective in January of 2010.

“More than anything, I want to thank the voters of Palm Beach and Broward Counties who have allowed me the privilege of representing our community in the United States House of Representatives and the Florida Senate for the past nineteen years. I have truly cherished the opportunity to serve my constituents – many of whom make up the generation that sacrificed in World War II and Korea and rebuilt our nation after the Great Depression.

“I have both admired and learned from my constituents, especially their love of country and commitment to community.

“I am proud that everyday I have sought to advocate for and provide a voice to my constituents: whether it was fighting for a legitimate vote during the 2000 election, working toward enacting a voter verified paper trail in Florida, or advocating for health care, education, Social Security and countless other issues. Therefore, my decision to leave Congress did not come easy.

“Those who know me, and those who have followed my career know that one of my overriding passions has been my work on the Foreign Affairs Committee helping to strengthen and preserve the unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel, and working toward a just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East between Israelis and Palestinians and between Israel and the Arab world. Additionally, I have made a special effort to improve congressional relations with key allies in the Muslim world by founding the Turkey and Indonesia caucuses. Moreover, it was an extraordinary honor to serve as a Middle East advisor to President Obama during the presidential campaign, and I treasure the experiences I had traveling the country, and especially throughout Florida, advocating for the President’s Middle East agenda.

“Taking over as president of the Center for Middle East Peace offers me an unparalleled opportunity to work on behalf of Middle East peace for an important and influential non-profit institute. After much discussion with my family, I have decided that I cannot pass up on this opportunity.

“My one regret is that I will be unable to complete my current term in office, but I truly believe there is no time to waste. We are at a unique and critically tense moment in the history of the Middle East with both significant opportunities to succeed in the Arab-Israeli conflict as well as major challenges involving Iran, Hamas, and al Qaeda. In the coming months, Israeli and Arab leaders will be faced with monumental decisions that will dramatically affect the region and the entire world for decades to come. Critically important American security and foreign policy interests are also at stake. I am convinced that now is the time for me to engage on these issues on a full time basis.”

While Wexler's focus will be keeping our relationship with Israel positive, according to JTA, he is equally interested in keeping Israel dovish and protecting the rights of the Palestinians as well:

Just two weeks ago, Wexler spoke about the Middle East at the Center for American Progress, and that does provide some indication of where Wexler might focus his efforts in his new job. (Here's a link to video of the entire speech on the Center's Web site). He emphasized, as I wrote earlier this month, that President Obama needs to do a better job of reaching out to Israelis:

"We need to understand that we ignore Israeli public opinion to our own detriment," said Wexler during an appearance at the Center for American Progress. "Because in order for us, along with the Israeli leadership, to create the political dynamic that allows" Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to "take risks," said Wexler, "we've got to do it from the bottom up. He runs for re-election, too."

And he stressed the importance of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's initiative to build a "de facto" Palestinian state. He also praised Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad's two-year plan to build the institutions and infrastructure of a Palestinian state, and said the United States "ought to get behind it" and support it poliitcally.

And while I personally grieve a solid, unafraid and unapologetic liberal gone from Congress--because we know how rare a species that is--I think Wexler's larger legacy as a congressman can be depicted by this appearance on The Colbert Report:

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