Monday, June 16, 2014

The Profile In Courage We Are Required To Support For The Democratic Nomination

President Obama has been served loyally by Joe Biden, who as a veteran Washington hand helped balance the public perception of the freshman senator as charismatic and enervating, yet inexperienced. It lent gravitas to the ticket, and possibly to the presidential nominee himself.  In 2008, Biden did Obama another favor, this time coming out in favor of same-sex marriage, paving the way for the President to do the same.

So of course the President has fallen all over himself praising Hillary Clinton, who is blocking Biden's path to the 2016 nomination.  A book recently published has the anti-HRC author Edward Klein claiming (according to the New York Post)

... Obama wasn’t interested in Bill Clinton upstaging him during the presidential campaign. He resisted giving him any role at the convention.

But as last summer wore on, and Democrat enthusiasm waned, chief political strategist David Axelrod convinced the president that he needed Bill Clinton’s mojo.

A deal was struck: Clinton would give the key nominating speech at the convention, and a full-throated endorsement of Obama. In exchange, Obama would endorse Hillary Clinton as his successor.

Maybe yes, maybe no. But Barack Obama was clever enough, principled enough, or something enough to have given a dynamic and unequivocal speech against the war in 2002. However, Hillary Clinton, who as a US Senator voted for the war and later admitted it was a mistake, is now having third thoughts.  Dylan Scott of Talking Points Memo reports

Explaining her hesitation to renounce her vote in favor of the Iraq War, Hillary Clinton said Monday that she didn't want to "break faith with" the U.S. military.

The remarks gave a little more context to Clinton's admission in her new book that voting for the Iraq War in 2002 was "wrong. Plain and simple."

Backtracking on the vote earlier would have been the "smart political decision," Clinton told a Toronto business group on Monday during her ongoing book tour. But she explained why she felt she couldn't.

The Nation published a video and transcript of her statement in front of the Toronto Board of Trade.

"I had this sense that I had voted for it, and we had all these young men and women over there, and it was a terrible battle environment," Clinton said. "I knew some of the young people who were there and I was very close to one Marine lieutenant who lead a mixed platoon of Americans and Iraqis in the first battle for Fallujah."

"So I felt like I couldn’t break faith with them," she continued. "Maybe that doesn’t make sense to anybody else but me, but that’s how I felt about it. So I kept temporizing and I kept avoiding saying it because I didn’t want there to be any feeling that I was backing off or undercutting my support for this very difficult mission in Iraq."

Clinton wrote in her new book that she "got it wrong" on Iraq with her 2002 vote. But she said on Monday that her apparent hesitation to recant the vote was not a political calculation.

She was for the war. Then she realized it had been a mistake. Wrapping herself firmly in the flag, she now couches her earlier support  in patriotic terms: "I knew some of the young people there (and) felt like I couldn't break faith with them," she most cowardly rationalizes.

And she doesn't even credit the Democrats who voted against the Bush Administration's war with common sense, prescience, nor (especially this) courage.  Scott continues

"I kept trying to say, 'Well if we knew then what we know now it would not have ever come for a vote,' all of which was true, but just sort of avoided the fact of my saying, 'You know I just got it wrong, plain and simple. I made a mistake,'” she said. 'I thought a lot about that, because people said well -- 'You’re not saying you made a mistake for political reasons.'"

"Well, in fact, in the Democratic Party at that time, the smart political decision, as so many of my colleagues did, was to come out and say 'Terrible mistake, shouldn’t have done it,' and you know blame the Bush administration," she said.

No, the "smart political decision" for Democrats then was considered to be an "aye" vote on the Iraq War Resolution, in order to eliminate the possibility of being tarred as unpatriotic or "hating the troops."  Instead, Clinton casts her vote as one of political courage and suggests individuals who criticized the policy made an unprincipled, political calculation.  She castigates those who chose to "blame the Bush Administration."  That would, presumably, include a State Senator from Chicago who at the time declared

So for those of us who seek a more just and secure world for our children, let us send a clear message to the president today. You want a fight, President Bush? Let's finish the fight with bin Laden and al-Qaida, through effective, coordinated intelligence, and a shutting down of the financial networks that support terrorism, and a homeland security program that involves more than color-coded warnings. You want a fight, President Bush?

Let's fight to make sure that the U.N. inspectors can do their work, and that we vigorously enforce a non-proliferation treaty, and that former enemies and current allies like Russia safeguard and ultimately eliminate their stores of nuclear material, and that nations like Pakistan and India never use the terrible weapons already in their possession, and that the arms merchants in our own country stop feeding the countless wars that rage across the globe. You want a fight, President Bush?

Let's fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells. You want a fight, President Bush? Let's fight to wean ourselves off Middle East oil, through an energy policy that doesn't simply serve the interests of Exxon and Mobil.

Obama enjoyed the luxury of not having to cast a vote.  Still, he was right, and his words were, literally and figuratively, fighting words of exactly the sort Hillary Clinton has chosen to condemn.   Her words (video of relevant portion interview, below; The Nation article, here) were carefully chosen.  The former New York senator probably realizes that now she has made clear that she thinks Democrats of that sort were unpatriotic opportunists, President Obama will gravitate, however gradually...  even closer to her.  That is, we've learned,  how the once-bold State Senator now rolls.

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