Tony McPeak, War In Iraq,
Barack Obama put his political career on the line in 2002 to speak out against a “dumb war” and “a rash war” in Iraq. He warned of, “an occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined costs, with undetermined consequences.” Read this speech – he got it right.
In his rush to misrepresent Senator Obama’s record, Congressman McGovern forgot to include the last sentence of the quote that Obama gave to Tim Russert in 2004: “What I know is that from my vantage point the case was not made.” He then said, “What I don’t think was appropriate was the degree to which Congress gave the President a pass on this.” And when Wolf Blitzer asked him a similar question at the time, he said, “I would’ve voted no.”
Hillary Clinton made a different choice. For starters, she refused to even read the National Intelligence Estimate that was made available to Senators before the vote for war – an NIE that was so thin that Bob Graham, the Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, decided to vote against the war when he read it.
In defending her vote for war on the floor of the United States Senate, Clinton invoked connections between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein that did not exist, and took a card out of George Bush and Rudy Giuliani’s playbook, invoking 9/11 as a reason to invade a country that had nothing to do with 9/11: “I think New Yorkers who have gone through the fires of hell may be more in tune to the risk of not acting. I know that I am.” She even refused to vote for an alternative resolution that would have required the President to try diplomacy before war.
Indeed, Senator Clinton continued to serve as one of President Bush’s chief Democratic cheerleaders, issuing a statement on the eve of war saying the she, “fully supports the steps the president has taken to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction.” On the President’s failure to achieve meaningful international support, she said, “I don’t think it’s useful now to go back and Monday morning quarterback.”
Instead of speaking out when the war polled well, she waited until she was preparing to run for President to discover that she opposed the war. Congressman McGovern says he’d rather focus on what’s next. Fair enough. Even today, Senator Clinton still has not advocated any timeline for removing our troops, and envisions the most expansive mission for our troops in Iraq of all the Democratic candidates: countering Iran, force protection, training Iraqis, countering al Qaeda, and striking “other terrorist organizations in the region.” She is also the only Democratic candidate to follow John Kyl and Joe Lieberman’s leadership in voting for an amendment that could be used to justify using our troops in Iraq against Iran.
So Congressman McGovern makes a curious case in citing Senator Clinton as the candidate with the best “experience” to end the war in Iraq. Her “experience” in her seven years in elected office includes voting for war, vocal support for war, advocating an expansive military role for the United States in Iraq for years to come, and giving George Bush the benefit of the doubt on Iran.
Barack Obama, on the other hand, opposed the war in Iraq in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007. Just this morning, the Washington Post feature “The Facts” found, “Of the major Democratic candidates, Barack Obama has been the most consistent on Iraq.” Obama introduced comprehensive legislation to bring our troops home in January. He voted earlier this year to stop giving George Bush a blank check (Senator Clinton waited until after he voted, before casting her own vote). And he has proposed removing all of our combat brigades in sixteen months, and opposes using our troops in Iraq to counter Iran.
If the American people are looking for who has the strength and experience to end the war, they should look very carefully at who had the strength and experience to get Iraq right from the beginning. Because the Clinton campaign may be able to plant Senator Clinton’s questions, but they can’t change her record, or Senator Obama’s answers.