Saturday, February 9, 2008

A mistake, according to Dictionary.com, is “an error in action, calculation, opinion, or judgment caused by poor reasoning, carelessness, insufficient knowledge, etc.”

In retrospect, when Senator Clinton cast her famous vote to allow the use of military force in Iraq, she made a mistake.  The question is, was it a mistake based on poor judgment as Senator Obama would have us believe, or insufficient information, which is her counter argument?  Should she, or any of the others who voted for the resolution, have anticipated exactly what President Bush and his cohorts intended to do with that authority – or that the Administration had misunderstood, to put it politely, the extent of the threat to our national security?  I don’t know.  Certainly the first kind of mistake is more relevant for the prospect of a Hillary Clinton Presidency than the latter.

What I do know is that nothing is as simple as Senator Obama would like us to believe.  I don’t know what Senator Clinton was thinking, but I do know that Senator Obama had the luxury of offering simple platitudes on foreign policy from his vantage point on the sidelines.  (Senator Obama was an Illinois state Senator on October 10, 2002 when Senator Clinton delivered her speech on the floor of the US Senate to explain her support of the President’s request.)  Is he the psychic candidate?  Did he really foresee where this Iraq mess would end up, or did he just get lucky?  Under what circumstances would he expect the same vote from Senator Clinton where he, Barack Obama, the one in The White House asking for Senate approval?

Senator Clinton’s October speech began with the words, “Today we are asked whether to give the President of the United States authority to use force in Iraq should diplomatic efforts fail to dismantle Saddam Hussein’s chemical and biological weapons and his nuclear program.”  At the time, lots of people – perhaps state Senator Obama, as well – were convinced that the threat of weapons of mass destruction was real.  Just how big a mistake was she making?  Why shouldn’t she have believed President Bush?

I understand that Senator Obama believes in negotiating and compromise as a preferable alternative to military action.  Who doesn’t?  In fact, the resolution authorized force only if negotiations were to fail.  Wouldn’t Senator Obama have made basically the same speech had he been in Senator Clinton’s position?

Barack Obama likes to question Hillary Clinton’s judgment.  The question for Maryland Democrats on Tuesday is do they want to nominate an armchair, Monday morning quarterback, or the real deal?

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