Monday, February 19, 2007

Hillary's Past Haunting Her

Hillary always seemed like an unlikely ally in the War on Terror. I say that not because I believe Hillary doesn't care about the US coming out on top in the War on Terror, but the Iraq War became SO political, and Hillary was one of the President's strongest allies regarding Iraq. Many Republicans and political commentators - Dick Morris comes to mind - believed that Hillary was just posturing and trying to build up record as being strong on defense so that she could run in '08. Hillary did and said a lot of things to appear more centrist and project an image of strength.

But now that she seeks the nomination of the Democratic Party, she is running as far to the left as she can in order to distance herself from the past 5-6 years of un-Hillary-like-behavior. She can finally be herself and let her true colors show through. Except this is proving difficult for her. Her base is calling on her to repudiate her vote, and if she comes out too strongly against all the decisions she has made in the past 5-6 years, the American people will see through her when she starts sprinting back towards the center for the General Election, assuming she can win her part nomination, of course.

Christopher Hitchens has an excellent article over on Slate in which he basically blasts the Presidential hopeful.

On her campaign visit to New Hampshire this weekend, she was asked by an audience member to describe her 2002 vote as a mistake "right here, right now, once and for all, without nuance." Until "we hear you say that," the questioner went on, "we're not going to hear all these other great things you've said." Not for the first time, she declined to oblige. Instead, she took refuge in the softer claim that she couldn't know then what she knew now, and in the following rather bizarre view of the Bush administration's policy:

From almost the first day they got into office, they were trying to figure out how to get rid of Saddam Hussein. I'm not a psychiatrist; I don't know all of the reasons behind their concern, some might say their obsession.

If she continues in this vein, then someone is going to remind her of how truly agonizing an effort to ride two horses can be. The record is very plain and easy to look up. Here is what she said in her crucial speech of October 2002:

In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaida members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11, 2001.

Notice what this does not say. It does not say that she agrees with the Bush administration on those two key points. Rather, it states these two claims in her own voice and on her own authority. A man like John Edwards can back away from his own 2002 vote easily enough by suggesting that he was deceived by Republican propaganda, but he was barely in politics before 2000. Sen. Clinton, however, was not just in politics. She was in the White House. That's why she had to speak of "the four years" that had elapsed since the relationship between the United States and Iraq went critical once more. As the preceding paragraph of her speech said:

In 1998, the United States also changed its underlying policy toward Iraq from containment to regime change and began to examine options to effect such a change.

Indeed, it was on the initiative of President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore, both of whom delivered extremely tough speeches warning of another round of confrontation with Saddam Hussein, that the Senate passed the Iraq Liberation Act that year, making it U.S. policy to remove the Baathists from power. It was the Clinton administration that bombed Sudan, claiming that a factory outside Khartoum represented a chemical-weapons link between Saddam and Osama Bin Laden. And, as Sen. Clinton reminded us in the very same speech, it was "President Clinton, with the British and others, [who] ordered an intensive four-day air assault, Operation Desert Fox, on known and suspected weapons of mass destruction sites and other military targets" in Iraq. On its own, this is enough to make childish nonsense of her insinuation that an "obsession" with Saddam took root only after the Bush-Cheney victory in 2000.

When I read this all I could say is, "Wow." I hope to one day be able to write as effectively, intelligently, and eloquently as Christopher Hitchens. Kudos to him on an excellent article (please read the full article here). This will do quite nicely in our Hillary Resource Center.

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