Monday, February 12, 2007

See How She Runs - In her continued effort to run a mistake-free (make that a mistake acknowledgment-free) run for the White House, Sen. Hillary Clinton again dodged a direct question about her vote to support President Bush in launching the Iraq War. While at a highly-staged, invitation-only event over the weekend, Hillary was asked by a New Hampshire voter about whether her initial support of the war was a mistake. In her response, she retreated to her typical Clintonspeak, as reported by NY1 News.

To his credit, the attendee (identified by the New York Times as Roger Tilton of Nashua) was forthright in his interrogatory in as much as he asked her,
"I want to know if right here and right now, once and for all, without nuance, can you say that the war authorization vote was a mistake." Her response was straight from the well-worn Clinton playbook.

Knowing what I know now, I would never have voted for it. But I also – and obviously you have to weigh everything as you make your decision – I have taken responsibility for my vote. The mistakes were made by this president.
So even as Hillary continues her Iraq War bob-and-weave, new challengers with stronger antiwar bona fides make their entrance into the political arena. And as progressives demand more blood oaths of fealty from those who would win Democrat primaries, Hillary's current position becomes less and less tenable, even as she attempts to sidestep an antiwar avalanche from the Left. As much has been noted in an editorial from last Thursday's Wall Street Journal.
All politicians change their minds about something at some point, but what's troubling about Mrs. Clinton's record on Iraq is that it tends to follow, rather than lead, public opinion. When the war was first debated, and she couldn't easily walk away from her husband's record against Saddam, she was a solid, even eloquent, hawk. Then for a time she laid low and avoided the antiwar excesses of John Kerry and others.

But now that the war has proven to be difficult, and her fellow Democrats are outflanking her on the antiwar left, she is steadily, even rapidly, moving in their direction. So in the space of merely 14 months and as the Presidential campaign begins in earnest, Mrs. Clinton has gone from advocating a new plan to "win" the Iraq war, with "honor," to vocally opposing President Bush's new strategy to try to do precisely that. And, oh, yes, she now wants the "surge" to be in Afghanistan instead of Iraq.
In as much as the editorial notes that "what she really believes, and how firmly she'll stick to it, deserves to be debated," Sen. Clinton does indeed owe it to the American people to be candid about her feelings on the Iraq War, as well as how she reconciles her past support of the war with her her current position(s). As long as Hillary refuses to resolve the tension between her disparate statements, she will be vulnerable to the nascent campaign of Sen. Barack Obama. More importantly, by continuing to retreat from her previous support without acknowledging some sort of mistake, she will confirm her unsuitability to be President and Commander-in-Chief.

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