A Criticism of the Clinton Campaign
February 27, 2008
Today’s quote is offered, in the strongest possible terms, as a criticism of the Hillary Clinton campaign. I’ll be brief. Let me refer you to a more explicit piece I wrote a few days ago called “Reckless Endangerment.”
The title quote, in case you didn’t recognize it, is by Barack Obama, said innumerable times.
From the outset of his campaign, Senator Obama has had Senator Clinton on the defensive regarding her vote to permit the use of military force in Iraq. That vote, which she explained in her speech on October 10, 2002, on the floor of the Senate, was to authorize the use of military force, as a last resort, to protect the United States against what were then believed to be chemical, biological and possibly nuclear weapons in the possession of, and/or under development by Saddam Hussein. In retrospect, that vote, which was approved by three quarters of the House and Senate, is regrettable – but that’s hindsight. It was the right thing to have done at the time
Senator Obama did not vote for that resolution because he was an Illinois State Senator. What he did instead was deliver a short speech 8 days earlier in front of an anti-war rally in Chicago. He acknowledged the threat of Saddam Hussein and the existence of weapons of mass destruction, and yet, in the same short speech, called the use of military force, as a last resort, in defense of the United States, “dumb.” His word. His opposition to the use of military force – There was no “war” at the time. – is not something about which he should be boasting. It was then, and still is a sign of immaturity, of naiveté and irresponsibility – proof positive of his lack of readiness to be President. The question isn’t whether or not Senator Obama “opposed this war from the start,” it’s whether or not opposing the war from the start was the right thing to have done.
Not interested in my opinion? Fine. Read his speech, and then ask yourself, if you were President and believed that a “brutal” and “ruthless” dictator had “developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity,” would you have considered the use of military force, as a last resort, to defend your country against these weapons “dumb”?
In his speech, Senator Obama says “I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States.” Excuse me, but he had no way of knowing that. It was his opinion, not an assertion of fact that he was offering. So just how certain was he, or could he have been given what was known at the time? It’s one thing to believe in something as a matter of principle, or to pander to a crowd. The man does love his rallies. To be President, and actually responsible for the lives of your countrymen and women, is another thing altogether.
Senator Clinton, if you or any of your campaign staff are listening, instead of defending your position or apologizing for it, you need to stand by it and challenge Senator Obama’s on the basis of his own words delivered in that October 2, 2002 speech. Ask his supporters what they would do as President, if they believed, as he did, that the threats against our country were real. Make it clear that his mantra, “I opposed this war from the start,” is the best argument yet, certainly on the subject of national security, in favor of your candidacy.
Either you make this point now, or I assure you John McCain will make it later.