Bernie Sanders has now acknowledged that Hillary Clinton is qualified to be President, and good for him.
If nothing else, however, Sanders' claim Wednesday that his opponent is not qualified should draw our attention to the specifics of the statement
I don’t believe that she is qualified if she is through her super PAC taking tens of millions of dollars in special-interest funds.
I don’t think that you are qualified if you get $15 million from Wall Street through your super PAC.
I don’t think you are qualified if you voted for the disastrous war in Iraq.
I don’t think you’re qualified if you supported almost every disastrous trade agreement.
I don’t think you are qualified if you supported the Panama free trade agreement, something I very strongly opposed, which has gave the green light to wealthy people and corporations all over the world to avoid paying taxes owed to their countries.
At a campaign event on January 7, 2008 on behalf of his wife, Bill Clinton stated in part
Second, it is wrong that Senator Obama got to go through 15 debates trumpeting his superior judgment and how he had been against the war in every year, enumerating the years and never got asked one time, not once, "Well, how could you say that when you said in 2004 you didn't know how you would have voted on the resolution? You said in 2004 there was no difference between you and George Bush on the war and you took that speech you're now running on off your Web site in 2004 and there's no difference in your voting record and Hillary's ever since."
Give me a break.
After applause, he continued
This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen. So you can talk about Mark Penn all you want. What did you think about the Obama thing, calling Hillary the "Senator from Punjab?" Did you like that? Or what about the Obama handout that was covered up, the press never reported on, implying that I was a crook, scouring me, scathing criticism over my financial reports.
The whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've seen. On one level, the former President's allegation was unfair. On October 22, 2008 Illinois state senator Barack H. Obama gave a stirring, eloquent speech challenging President Bush:
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?
Then Obama almost made the point which in retrospect most needed to be made, arguing
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.
Those are the battles that we need to fight.
"Let's fight to make sure," Obama maintained, so "our so-called allies in the Middle East" don't encourage their youth to become "the ready recruits of terrorist cells."
Call it nitpicking, if you will, but it's not. State Senator Obama foresaw the likelihood that increased terrorism would become the product of repressive, pro-Western, Arab states.
Recognition in 2002 of the importance of terrorism as a greater threat than the Iraqi regime is impressive. However, relatively few Islamic terrorists were created by the regime in Cairo, one Obama understandably failed to recognize would better serve the interests of the West than the two which have succeeded it. And the 9/11/01 terrorists, most of them Saudi nationals, were not individuals rebelling from the oppression and corruption from Riyadh but led by Wahhabist bin Laden. Moreover, President Obama seems to have become quite cozy with that "so-called ally," run by the fundamentalist, Wahhabist sect.
There are, further, indications that Obama's opposition to the war was, largely, "fairy tale." However, there is an aspect which more directly links his 2002 speech to Senator Sanders' criticism of Hillary Clinton for voting in favor of authorizing military action against Baghdad.
Very few people foresaw that the primary result of the USA invasion of Iraq, as well as the major reason it has become a disaster, is the profound impact it has had on the growth of Islamic terrorism. This goes well beyond the President's current, steadfast refusal to acknowledge that the global terrorist threat is primarily of an Islamic nature. Obama in 2002 railed againt the coming "dumb war," also a "rash war," and advocated "battles against ignorance and intolerance. Corruption and greed. Poverty and despair."
That is wonderful. However, he did not foresee what was to become of Iraq, and of the region. Neither did Hillary Clinton- and several other Democratic and many more Republican Senators. Yet, Senator Sanders cited her vote as part of the reason she is unqualified to be President and, though he now has conceded that she is qualified, likely will continue battering Mrs. Clinton's foreign policy in large measure on the basis of that vote.
Clinton has publicly expressed regret for that vote. Sanders, to his credit, voted against the resolution, very likely out of the conviction so many others lacked. One of those, it now seems, was Barack Obama who, like most of the other opponents, had little or no clue what would become of the region, the tinderbox it would become, and the threat to Europe, the USA, and elsewhere that it would ignite.
Hillary Clinton is the very essence of a neo-conservative, representing a foreign policy perspective clearly inadequate to respond to international affairs at this time. (The somewhat paleo-conservative approach of Cruz and thoroughly paleo-conservative approach of Trump probably are even worse.) However, criticism of her Iraq vote of 2002 should be tempered by the realization that very few individuals, including Obama and probably Sanders, understood what was coming.