Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Tale of Two Hillarys - One would need to have been in a drug-induced coma to not know that Hillary Clinton was out on the hustings this weekend in Iowa. And given some of her comments over the past few days - particularly her continued attempts at verbal jujitsu regarding her initial support of the Iraq War - some of us would that we were in some sort of coma. It would spare us watching Ms. Clinton try fruitlessly to make us believe that she did not say what we all heard. In her continuing efforts to run up to the head of the Democrat anti-Iraq War parade (especially as the authentically anti-war Barack Obama continues to build a head of steam) Hillary is left to unspeak and restate her original positions.

Just two weeks prior to the invasion of Iraq, Sen. Clinton spoke to the monochromatic and sensibly-dressed ladies of Code Pink. As reported in the March 7, 2003 Washington Times, Code Pink was in Washington on March 6th to protest military action against Saddam Hussein, and meet with several Representatives and Senators, to include Ms. Clinton. During the brief meeting, Ms. Clinton listened to the appeals of the protesters and then provided the reasoning behind her support of the invasion. And thanks to the good people of YouTube, we are able to see and hear for ourselves exactly what her justifications were.

You will note that Ms. Clinton indicated at the time that she had followed the situation in Iraq "for more than a decade" and that there was "no accounting for chemical or biological stocks" of suspected WMDs. Rather than deride George Bush's foreign policy as being a significant impediment to the security of the Iraqi people, Hillary correctly noted that Saddam's leadership was the primary cause of the suffering of his people. Sen. Clinton then stated that she supported the invasion "after carefully reviewing the information and intelligence," going on to say that her support was based on "my own understanding" of the situation.

But even as Hillary spoke in support of the military intervention, she tried to have it both ways. She wanted to justify her support of George Bush's Iraq adventure, even as she condemned his inability to gain more support from the U.N., even as she pointed out the fact that her husband was unable to do likewise in his intervention in Kosovo, even as she slammed George Bush's domestic economic policy. (Why does every conversation with Hillary feel like you're playing a game of "Twister" with a Chinese contortionist?) To her credit, she remained resolute in the face of Code Pink's subsequent critique, storming out of the meeting room when the protesters handed her a "pink slip" fashioned out of, well, a pink slip.

Unfortunately, such resoluteness was nowhere to be found in the Hawkeye State last weekend. While on the stump in Davenport this past Sunday, Hillary commented that President Bush has made a "mess" of Iraq, continuing by saying "if we knew then what we know now...the Congress never would have voted to give the President authority and I would have not voted to give the President authority." Hillary went on to suggest that President Bush, "took my vote and other votes and basically misused the authority we gave him." Of course, one wonders what Hillary knows now that more than a decade of observing the goings on in Iraq did not reveal to her in 2002. Indeed, we are understandably curious as to what escaped her careful review of the "information and intelligence" available at the time. We might rightly wonder which Hillary Clinton will occupy the Oval Office should she be elected.

The sad irony of all of this is that, if Ms. Clinton really wanted to (or if she thought that her base would tolerate it) she could try to spin her original support for the invasion as a sign of resolve, a la Joe Lieberman. Indeed, such a move would set her apart from many of her co-candidates who have spent their political lives trying to catch the nearest way to a loftier political station. Ms. Clinton is hardly the only politician who will have to account their flip-flops on the Iraq War. But because of who she is - and what she is not - Hillary can only explain and rexplain and dissemble.

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