Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Hillary on the war

By Edward Copeland

Michael Dobbs' Fact Checker colum in The Washington Post has an excellent post about Hillary Clinton's bald-faced exaggerations to crowds about her intentions concerning Iraq. "If this president does not get us out of Iraq, when I am president, I will," Clinton declared at the Democratic debate in South Carolina on April 26. Come September, her words had been revised a bit at another debate.

"I will immediately move to begin bringing our troops home when I am inaugurated...[But there] may be a continuing counter-terrorism mission, which, if it still exists, will be aimed al Qaeda in Iraq. It may require combat, Special Operations Forces or some other form of that, but the vast majority of our combat troops should be out."

The column details her back-and-forth on the issue and contradictions within her own statements and on her own Web site. Dobbs then spells out in great detail all the caveats Hillary gives for needing to possibly stay in Iraq, including Iraq "is right in the heart of the oil region." Finally, Dobbs employs what he calls "The Pinocchio Test," concluding:

"(H)er bold 'I will end the war' promise is an obvious exaggeration. A truer description of her position would be, 'I will do my best to end a war that I now believe to have been deeply mistaken, but the United States has many interests in the Middle East that must be protected.'

Iraq isn't the only foreign policy issue where Hillary has been trying to please all sides, as evidenced by her maneuvering in Iraq, which Maureen Dowd in The New York Times reports today led to one of the few public instances of Hillary exhibiting a Dubya-like loss of her composure when an Iowa voter questioned her about her moves, and no one is supposed to question Hillary:

Sparring with a voter on Iran, she sounded defensive and paranoid. A Democrat, Randall Rolph, asked Senator Clinton why he should back her when she did not learn her lesson after voting to authorize W. to use force in Iraq. He did not understand how she could have voted yea to urge W. to label Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, possibly setting the stage for more Cheney chicanery. Hillary said that “labeling them a terrorist organization gives us the authority to impose sanctions on their leadership. ...I consider that part of a very robust diplomatic effort.” Fearful that her questioner was an enemy spy creeping into her perfect little world, she suggested that he had been put up to the question and did not have his information right. “I take exception,” Mr. Rolph insisted. “This is my own research. ... I’m offended that you would suggest that.”

The entire column would be worth excerpting, especially since the Times columnists have been freed from the shackles of TimesSelect, but I found these paragraphs by Dowd to be most on target:

When Hillary voted to let W. use force in Iraq, she didn’t even read the intelligence estimate. She wasn’t trying to do the right thing. She was trying to do the opportunistic thing. She felt she could not run for president, as a woman, if she played the peacenik. By throwing in with Joe Lieberman and the conservative hawks on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard issue, she once more overcompensated in a cynical way. She’d like to paint Obama as the weak reed who wants to cozy up to dictators, while she’s the one who will play tough. It was odd, given her success in the debates conveying the sense that she is the manliest candidate among the Democrats, that she felt the need to man-up on Iran.

Democrats cannot afford to let Hillary lead them to defeat. You know if she gets the nomination, she will definitely keep sounding the to-the-right alarm bells in hopes of wooing voters, but how can you trust which Hillary would actually serve as president (if she won that is). Remember the immortal words of Harry Truman: When given a choice between voting for a Republican and a Democrat pretending to be a Republican, I vote for the Republican. That, I imagine, is what the majority of voters will do as well if Hillary gets the crown.

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