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Tilting at Windmills

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May 9, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

THE IRAQ ALBATROSS....Scott Lemieux on Hillary Clinton:

Admittedly, this is the kind of counterfactual that's impossible to prove, but my guess is that if she had voted against the war Clinton would be the Democratic candidate. Given the closeness of the race, her inherent advantages going in, and that the war had to be a liability it's hard to imagine that she wouldn't have prevailed without the Iraq albatross. Whether or not Clinton's support was sincere — I don't think it really matters — sometimes getting big policies wrong really is politically damaging.

I agree. Barack Obama is highly likely to be the next president of the United States because he opposed a dumb war. Democrats should take notice.

Kevin Drum 1:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (103)

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I largely agree with this - but not completely. I think despite the war vote, Barack Obama is simply the most gifted politician of his generation. I think that roughly half of the Democratic Party supported the war in Iraq to begin with and were willing to overlook Hillary's support for the war because they themselves made that mistake (most of my evidence of this is anecdotal, to be sure, but it does make sense - we as an electorate don't seem to overly care about electing people that make better decisions than we do as individuals).

Personally I find this quite disturbing. But with Obama's nomination secured I am not going to hyperventilate about it any longer.

Posted by: reader on May 9, 2008 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

I think that 8 years after the debacle of 2000 and 5+ years after the horrendous invasion of Iraq and its aftermath - well, a Democrat who is not unambiguously against this debacle and its incalculable wrongs, has no business claiming to be what this country needs for a Presidnet.

When we used to complain that the government had no business legislating morality we were talking about individuals in bedrooms.

The next government has to start restoring the country's morality.

I don't know if Obama will be able to do this. But it is not possible for Hillary to do this. She is a liberal hawk. And we don't need any more of those.

Posted by: PowerOfX on May 9, 2008 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

On Tuesday night, Tweety [aka Chris Matthews] actually said something both intelligent and perceptive: he said that if Sen. Clinton had not voted for the war, she would be the nominee now. Exactly right.

We lost the last election when our candidate and party engaged in way too much wet-finger-in-the-air attempts to discover what it was safe to say, what it was the voters wanted to hear. These are troubled times, and troubled times call for leadership, not wet-finger-in-the-air "oh my, what can I safely say?" candidates.

Everyone these days is pronouncing upon what they think the American people [voters] want. Since everyone else is doing it, I get to put my two cents in too: they want leadership. Not pandering. Leadership, and that means, sometimes, telling people what they wished they did not have to hear, that [for example] we are all going to have to make some sacrifices to get the debt back under control, and that the government cannot continue to put billions of dollars a day on the national credit card anymore than a family can keep on charging things without having to face either paying the debt off or bankruptcy.

Leadership, damn it. Leadership.

Posted by: flatlander100 on May 9, 2008 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

Clinton talks a lot of her experience vs. Obama's, but what good did it do her if her judgment was poor when she voted for this war? Clinton supporters have said to me, "but knowing what she knew at the time..." This is nonsense because approximately 30% of the public disagreed with the war from the start. I'd like to think that the person I'm voting for for president is smarter than 90 million people in the country. It's not a question of experience - it's judgment.

Posted by: ExBrit on May 9, 2008 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Beating Kevin to the punch, it’s time for Friday SCATblogging. Porn and free speech, including the use of scat, is on the agenda this week.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly on May 9, 2008 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

I can only speak for myself, but when confronted by my wife with my apparently irrational attraction to Obama (who she thinks will get eaten alive by the Republicans), all I could do was to mutter some incoherent stuff about "change," and then fall back on, "But he didn't vote for the war." If Hillary had voted against it, I think my wife would have won the argument.

Posted by: David in NY on May 9, 2008 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

What Kevin said. I once got banned from these very comment threads for pressing this argument. But the fact of the matter is that especially after 2004, when the anti-war base was told they could not have their favored candidate because of electability issues, and the candidate eventually chosen went down to defeat in part because of his inability to explain his position on the Iraq War, a whole lot of people resolved not to vote for a pro-war candidate. Hillary, I might add, compounded her problem by not apologizing for the vote and taking some political risks. I suspect that if she had apologized and decided to lead street demonstrations against the Iraq War, this would have helped her a lot.

Without the Iraq War vote, probably at least 20 percent of Obama voters would have stuck with Clinton. And that would have been enough to make the primaries a decisive victory for Hillary. Indeed, Obama might not have even run.

Posted by: Dilan Esper on May 9, 2008 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

She still would have run a stupid campaign. She still would put loyalty above competence and kept Penn, etc. But you're probably right, she'd probably have locked it up in February as planned. And then she'd have gone on to put loyalty above competence as a president, etc.

But more to the point, Hillary is a hawk by nature. Imagining that she might have opposed the war is imagining that Hillary isn't Hillary.

Posted by: asdf on May 9, 2008 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

But shillary has just proclaimed herself to the the WHITE candidate. She is saying that African Americans don't matter - its all about SAVING THE WHITE RACE!!!!!!

No wonder she supported killing all the brown people in Iraq and wants to kill them all in Iran too.

Posted by: on May 9, 2008 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

I agree that her vote on the Iraq war added another piece of shit for people to throw at her, but by now they're already saying a lot of things about her. I think that her vote on the Iraq war probably affected her negatively in the primary (who knows how voters would have treated her for it in the general), but I think the effect on her is more a flukey thing than something we have to "take note" of to plan our future message.

Nothing has changed-- Americans want politicians on either side of the aisle to be realistic about dealing with terrorists and to not be too radical or ideological in either direction, either in favor of civil rights, or against Muslim culture in general. We all had imperfect information, and no good information, on the WMD question when Bush started the Iraq war (but we knew Saddam Hussein was an insane, cruel dictator), and a lot of smart politicians on our side voted for it then. Hillary was just one of them. Sure a lot of people tried to take her to task for it, but people all over the place try to pin people to a wall for all sorts of things, every day; some of those things merit it, and some don't.

Posted by: Swan on May 9, 2008 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

At the time we (most of us who were smart and observant anyway) knew that the Iraq war resolution would be a critical moment that would stick with the legislators the rest of their lives. Kerry and Clinton made that choice, it was the wrong one, and because of it they have lost their chance to become president.

It's unfortunate and perhaps a bit unfair, but it's very simple. They put their money on the wrong horse and that horse lost. And broke both front legs and had to be euthanized. Tough break.

Posted by: Jeff from WI on May 9, 2008 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

I think despite the war vote, Barack Obama is simply the most gifted politician of his generation.

I'm not going to disagree with this, but I think that Hillary Clinton is right up there with him. She's unbelievably smart, politically right-on (excepting her positions when it comes to national security, which I'll get to), and extremely capable.

I don't think it was necessarily AUMF that crippled her chances, though. Plenty of solid Democrats who've been welcomed back into the lefty fold voted for it, too. It was her intransigence about the vote, and I attribute that to a couple of things. First, I subscribe to that business about it being a little bit more difficult for a NY Senator to go against an alleged strike back at terrorism. Yes, we know now that the whole thing was contrived, but that must have been pretty difficult to explain to voters in New York City at the time. (Honest question -- anybody know how Jerrold Nadler voted on this? I've wondered about that, though not enough to actually check the googles on it.)

Second, I think she believed it was very important that, as a woman with her eye on the Presidency, she needed to be unflinchingly tough, and this perhaps explains not only AUMF, but Kyl-Lieberman & the obliteration of Iran ridiculousness.

Finally, there are a couple of other things working against her that didn't have anything to do with Iraq. The first was her husband, and I think that she's been (unfairly) held to account over legitimate questions about his veracity. Tuszla (sp?) didn't help, but it would have blown over much more quickly without the baggage of his role in the impeachment sordidness. The second is putting way too much faith in a bunch of yes-people, and idiots like Mark Penn, when it came time to running her campaign. I'd like to think that her political instincts are much better than what her campaign showed us.

Posted by: junebug on May 9, 2008 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Clearly if she had had a bit more momentum in the early primaries, her strategy of being inevitable would have paid off. All the nastiness, which subsequently came out as the race tightened wouldn't have happened. It was really the way she fought when the going got tough that turned off a lot of people (myself included). If had really been inevitable, a lot of people who now seriously dislike her, would not have been exposed to that side of her, and would have happily supported her.

It is quite likely, that if she had been able to apologize, and admit the mistake early on, that we would have said "hurray a candidate who can learn from her mistakes"! That would have been a big enough change from Bush, that we would have been delighted to go along.

Posted by: bigTom on May 9, 2008 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Barrack Obama CLAIMS to have opposed the war. Making speeches and making a real vote for or against something are two quite different things.

That said, if your theory is correct, this is just further evidence of the utter shallowness of the American public.

Posted by: Jim G on May 9, 2008 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Making speeches and making a real vote for or against something are two quite different things.

Yeah, but that only makes Hillary's actions look worse. What Obama said or didn't say didn't have any influence. If he had supported the war instead of opposed it, it would have had no effect.

She, on the other hand, shared, with her 534 fellow members of Congress, the constitutional responsibility of taking this country to war, and thus she bears full responsibility for the outcome of her vote.

Posted by: Dilan Esper on May 9, 2008 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

The AUMF vote wasn't a deal killer for John Kerry, and I don't believe Dean's "scream" was the deal breaker either. I think Hillary's bigger problems were 1) She doesn't seem to think her vote was wrong 2) She voted for the Kyl-Lieberman bill 3) She wouldn't talk to leaders of rogue nations, preferring instead the Bush photo-op style diplomacy and 4) Obama built a brilliant campaign network and distinguished himself from her on 1,2 &3.

Posted by: Danp on May 9, 2008 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

I think she could've gotten away with voting for the war if she had admitted the mistake early enough. Remember, she was still the frontrunner at the beginning of the campaign, and she could have probably (inexplicably) knocked Obama out on the experience issue if he hadn't been able to turn it against her by citing judgment. If she had admitted the mistake early rather than allowing him to amplify his criticism by citing the contrast, she probably still would have won.

Posted by: Fred on May 9, 2008 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

The exit polling does not support this.

http://www.talkleft.com/story/2008/5/9/14378/72673

Posted by: Armando on May 9, 2008 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

The Iraq War vote might have been bad for Clinton, but will the 178 House Republicans who have taken a stand against Mother's Day face repercussions in the fall?

Posted by: AJB on May 9, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Whether or not Clinton's support was sincere — I don't think it really matters

Of course it matters. If, in 2003, Hillary actually believed that it was necessary to invade Iraq because Saddam had WMD, her AUMF vote would have been wrong. If she voted for the AUMF just because she had her sights on the White House and she did not want to look wimpy, then that makes her craven. There's a difference between wrong and craven.

Posted by: on May 9, 2008 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

I believe it more correct to say that he will be President because he was not serving in the Senate in 2002 when a real decision was made. Opposing the war in town hall meetings isn't really the same. And Clinton how done pretty well among those values voters that consider the war the biggest issue. I refuse to punish democrats for not being able to escape a Republican trap that was designed to reduce the viability of a cohort of viable presidential candidates.

Posted by: TGM on May 9, 2008 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Armando, those exit poll numbers don't prove what you say they prove. Let's say Hillary had voted against the war. Now, do you still think Obama would carry the voters who said Iraq was the most important issue 60-37? Or would they split 50-50?

Posted by: Dilan Esper on May 9, 2008 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

The only way to overcome a vote for the AUF was to become a political voice for vigorous opposition to the mission W. Bush started in Iraq. Clinton did not do that. Clinton voted for war budgets and shied away from real anti-war advocates like Cindy Sheehan. Although Obama's lack of vigorous opposition has not prevented his ascension to the top spot of Democratic nominee candidates, he did not have that dead stinking bird vote hanging around his neck.

Posted by: Brojo on May 9, 2008 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

bigTom:

It is quite likely, that if she had been able to apologize, and admit the mistake early on, that we would have said "hurray a candidate who can learn from her mistakes"! That would have been a big enough change from Bush, that we would have been delighted to go along.

Yep. I think her voting mistake was still salvageable until she not only refused to admit she had been wrong, but she voted for the Kyl-Lieberman bill, and effectively helped hand the loaded gun back to the lunatic Bush. I first supported Edwards for 2008, in spite of his 2002 vote, because I thought he demonstrated that he had learned better. Hillary's stubborn refusal to admit to a mistake--that reminded me way too much of Commander Codpiece.

The cowboy promise to salt the ground in Iran on behalf of Israel and the insulting appeals to the worst side of white Americans just proved to me that I had been right to switch from Edwards to Obama, rather than Hillary.

But there is a worse candidate for president than Hillary, and that is McCain. I'd don a Hazmat suit and vote for Lieberman before I'd vote for McCain.

Posted by: cowalker on May 9, 2008 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, we know now that the whole thing was contrived, but that must have been pretty difficult to explain to voters in New York City at the time. (Honest question -- anybody know how Jerrold Nadler voted on this? I've wondered about that, though not enough to actually check the googles on it.)

Nadler voted NO. Don't know why you think voters in NYC were especially in favor of the AUMF -- they weren't. Probably a majority against. We aren't stupid or racist. We knew that Saddam Hussein did not attack the World Trade Center.

Posted by: on May 9, 2008 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

"I refuse to punish democrats for not being able to escape a Republican trap that was designed to reduce the viability of a cohort of viable presidential candidates."

It only reduced their viability if they didn't have the judgment to avoid the trap. 23 Senators voted against the AUMF -- why not Hillary, too? (Why not Kerry and Edwards, too?) Lousy judgment or bad foreign policy, both vote-losers in the end.

Posted by: David in NY on May 9, 2008 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary never claimed more than one half of the early votes. Obama originally split the rest with John Edwards When Edwards pulled out of the race, most of his support went to Obama (which is interesting since Edwards was viewed as the union guy). Hillary needed Edwards to stay in the race to fragment the vote. If he were still running, she would be the candidate.

That aside, somehow, Obama put together an organization that was broader than Hillary's. His ability to win the lesser states surprised Hillary and gave him the edge. In the major states, Obama's organization was not able to beat Hillary's, but it was competitive and kept him in the game. Given all the advantages she had (including Bill and the bulk of the black leadership) that was remarkable.

Hillary needed to maintain the position she took relative to the war because it was important to her base and fundraisers. By raising money on the internet, Obama freed himself of that restraint. His position allowed him to raise additional money. In the end, his ability to raise money overwhelmed Hillary.

Posted by: steve on May 9, 2008 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Whether or not it's true that Hillary's presidential ambitions died with her vote for the AUMF, the perception that they did will be a healthy thing for american politics.

Somehow we got to the point where voting in favor of war became the path of least resistance, which is an obscene state of affairs. I'd like every politician in the future, contemplating voting in favor of an elective military conflict, to be scared out of their skulls at the prospect of voting "yes." This sort of thing ought to be really really difficult to do.

it more correct to say that he will be President because he was not serving in the Senate in 2002 when a real decision was made.

Possibly true, and yet I don't think it matters much. We punish people for the things they did, not the things they might have done in different circumstances. Maybe Obama would have voted for the AUMF if he'd been in the Senate at that point. (I doubt it, but who knows?) The fact is that Clinton DID vote for it, and now it's time to pay the piper. Hillary's loss here will send a powerful and healthy message to lawmakers for many years.

Posted by: jimBOB on May 9, 2008 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

One additional comment -- it is only because Bush and the war are so unpopular that a candidate that is viewed as anti-war has a reasonable chance of becoming President. If he is elected president, Obama will wipe the Vietnam War slate clean too.

Posted by: steve on May 9, 2008 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Nadler voted NO. Don't know why you think voters in NYC were especially in favor of the AUMF -- they weren't. Probably a majority against. We aren't stupid or racist. We knew that Saddam Hussein did not attack the World Trade Center.

Thanks for answering my question about Nadler. Re: thinking that NYC voters were in favor of AUMF, my point was more that I had no idea what the majority of those folks felt/thought about it -- and that I can imagine that it might have been a particularly nuanced decision for representatives from NY. I certainly don't have any problem acknowledging that it might NOT have been any more nuanced for them. And it's pretty clear that I'm not suggesting that New Yorkers are either stupid or racist, but at least one of them seems a little touchy about the whole thing.

Posted by: junebug on May 9, 2008 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

The Iraq War is THE reason I supported Obama. The fact that he was inspirational and not an unscrupulous thug was second place. I think this guy is absolutely right.

Posted by: BombIranForChrist on May 9, 2008 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

I was a big Hillary cheerleader right up till the Kyl/Lieberman bill. When she voted favorably for that she completely lost me. The first Iraq AUMF anyone could be forgiven for, but after all that, she still voted for the Iran pseudo-AUMF...talk about slitting your own wrists.
I'm not a big Obama fan...I still have reservations about the man...something just doesn't sit well with me about him...can't really articulate it at this point.
But the one thing Obama has going for him that McCain doesn't is that Obama isn't a Republican; And in my eyes that's five leaps of evolutionary advancement Obama has on McCain.

Posted by: sheerahkahn on May 9, 2008 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

TGM reminds us of the key point regarding Obama -- He was not in the senate when he stated his opposition. Paul Wellstone (God he is missed!), strugged with his AUMF decision before deciding No, so it was not as if the No decision was a slam dunk, so to speak.

It seems to me that Hillary has been made the whipping boy (search it on Wiki) of the left. It started with the AUMF vote, but has expanded so she is responsible for all the slights, real and perceived, that the left has suffered over the last 7 years.

And BTW, am I the only one who finds Kevin displaying a bit of chutzpah when he says "I agree. Barack Obama is highly likely to be the next president of the United States because he opposed a dumb war." given his own (reluctant) sign off on the war 5 years ago.

Posted by: Dazir on May 9, 2008 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Barak Obama is going to be the next President because he did not have to face the trap that every Democratic Senator faced on the Iraq resolution. This is why, as a rule, Governors get elected President and Senators do not. It is ironic that is lack of experience was his greatest asset. I hope it works the same way in the general election.

Posted by: phg on May 9, 2008 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, I don't see why it is a "trap" to have to vote to go to war. This is the job of members of Congress, as set out in the Constitution.

Nobody forced Hillary to vote for the war. She looked at the issue, decided (presumably) that the war was, on balance, a wise foreign policy, and voted for it. Nobody should feel sorry for her-- we should take the fact that she was wrong for what it is-- a hint that on foreign policy matters, she has bad judgment. (Even worse judgment, of course, is shown by the fact that she won't admit she was wrong.)

This truly calls out for Truman's aphorism that if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Presumably, Hillary Clinton was aware of the Congressional power to declare war when she ran for Senate. The fact that she was asked to do it was no "trap".

Posted by: Dilan Esper on May 9, 2008 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

"We all had imperfect information, and no good information, on the WMD question when Bush started the Iraq war (but we knew Saddam Hussein was an insane, cruel dictator), and a lot of smart politicians on our side voted for it then. Hillary was just one of them."

We had much better information than most apologists are willing to admit to. The UN inspectors found NO evidence of a continuing WMD program and looked everywhere the US government suggested and asked the US for more places to look. They were still looking until a day before Bush the Lesser rained down the Shock and Awe. The aluminum tubes argument was debunked by experts before the vote. The Germans warned against trusting anything Curveball said. The drone argument was patently silly. The rolling WMD factories were also suspect, according to WMD scientists. I found all this out from reading the Washington Post BEFORE the invasion. Bob Graham practically begged fellow senators to read the entire NIE before they voted, but Hillary did not do so.

It was obvious that the Republicrats purposely scheduled the vote to put political pressure on the Democrats, and those looking to run for President fell into the trap. Hillary did. Kerry did. Edwards did.

Yes, Hillary would have been a more credible candidate had she not given Bush the authority to invade Iraq, but it's that old Scorpion/Duck story. It was just in her political nature to vote FOR the war. She wouldn't be the person she is if she had had the moral compass to see the evidence was being manufactured. Or even to see that our national standing would be compromised by starting a war when there was no immediate threat to us.

Sorry, but 9/11 didn't change THAT.

Posted by: Cal Gal on May 9, 2008 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Does anybody on this blog, Kevin included, understand the concept of an event being overdetermined?

Look, Clinton and Obama have been about as close in the overall voting as is possible. Essentially anything could be said to have been "decisive" in such a case, swinging the vote from one candidate to the other.

Yes, the Iraq war position might have done the trick. Or it could be that it had to do with how caucuses are different from primaries. Or it could be different positions on health care. Or different attitudes toward diplomacy. Or the way Hillary laughs. Or the way the media has been in the tank for Obama, and critical of Hillary.

Or it could be that some of those factors actually worked in Hillary's favor, but were more than compensated for by how the others worked in Obama's favor. And it could be that if one of them had been handled slightly differently, it could have turned the result in the opposite direction.

The reality is, no one knows how any of this actually contributed to the overall narrow margin, because the effects simply can't be teased out.

But that won't stop blowhards like Kevin and friends from claiming to know things they can't possibly know.

Posted by: frankly0 on May 9, 2008 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Think of my point this way: if the vote on the Iraq war were, standing by itself, such a decisive factor, how is it that the candidate who opposed it only has received a few per cent more in the overall vote than the candidate who voted for it, even in the party that contains by an enormous margin the most opponents to the war?

Posted by: frankly0 on May 9, 2008 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Here's something I noticed when Josh Marshall posted the comments about HRC trying to show how tenacious she'll be fighting McCain by how tenacious she is fighting Obama.

If HRC showed the tenacity fighting the wrongheaded portions of the Bush agenda that she showed fighting Obama, she would have won early.

But it's clear that HRC is more willing to fight mean against Democrats, progressives, African-Americans, Iraq War opponents (the base) than she was to fight against the Bush administration and the GOP.

When did HRC ever take the lead in fighting any of the Bush agenda in the Senate? What did she filibuster?

HRC built up her credibility with the Dem base by weathering nasty attacks.

HRC is the kinda leader Dems would want if the GOP was in control of the agenda. She can take a hit and stand tough.

However, Dems probably sense that the tide has turned. The GOP collapse creates an opportunity for the Dems to take the initiative.

HRC hasn't accomplished much in life for Dem constituencies. She's not the right leader for the opportunity at hand.

HRC was kept in the race by her personal wealth, Clinton administration connections and older "White" women who showed an extreme loyalty even after Clinton had clearly gone George Wallace on Obama.

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on May 9, 2008 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

frankly0:

You are of course correct that the closeness of the race means you could ascribe causation to almost anything.

But the Iraq War issue looms so large with so many Democratic voters and (lest we forget) donors, and also loomed so large in the failed Dean candidacy in 2004, that I don't think it can be written off or treated the same way as the other issues in the primary race.

There are simply a lot of Democratic voters who weren't going to vote for a war supporter this time around. And there were not a lot of Democratic voters who felt the other way, that supporting the war was a must. So Hillary's vote cost her group A, and there wasn't a group B to offset it.

Plus, Obama's fundraising and energy came in large part from people who were sick of the war and sick of the kind of Democrats who vote for these sorts of things.

As I said, without the war and the opportunity it presented for him, I doubt Obama even enters the race against Clinton.

Posted by: Dilan Esper on May 9, 2008 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

That said, if your theory is correct, this is just further evidence of the utter shallowness of the American public.

Shallowness? What? If something as serious as voting for war is not a legitimate basis to evaluate a candidate on, what the hell are we supposed to look at?? That's ridiculous.

And even more infuriating, both Kerry and Clinton appear to have voted for the war, not because they thought it was a great idea, but because they made the calculation that politically they couldn't afford to be on the wrong side of a quickly won war. That demonstrates not only that they have poor judgment, but also that, when the chips are down, they are cowards who will put their own political interests ahead of what they know to be right.

And on a separate front, after seeing how incredibly incompetent Hillary's campaign has been, I think we've dodged a bullet with Obama being the nominee. We can't afford to have a bunch of fumbling incompetents coordinating the strategy for how to beat McCain.

Posted by: Joe on May 9, 2008 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Wiki:
21 (42%) of 50 Democratic Senators voted against the AUMF:
Sens. Akaka (D-HI), Bingaman (D-NM), Boxer (D-CA), Byrd (D-WV), Conrad (D-ND),
Corzine (D-NJ), Dayton (D-MN), Durbin (D-IL), Feingold (D-WI), Graham (D-FL), Inouye (D-HI), Kennedy (D-MA), Leahy (D-VT), Levin (D-MI), Mikulski (D-MD), Murray (D-WA), Reed (D-RI), Sarbanes (D-MD), Stabenow (D-MI), Wellstone (D-MN), Wyden (D-OR).

1 of 49 Republican Senators voted against the resolution: Sen. Chafee (R-RI).

The only Independent Senator voted against the resoution: Sen. Jeffords (I-VT)

Posted by: on May 9, 2008 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

if the vote on the Iraq war were, standing by itself, such a decisive factor, how is it that the candidate who opposed it only has received a few per cent more in the overall vote than the candidate who voted for it,

Well, in this case the pro-war candidate had massive name recognition, a very popular ex-president as a spouse, and a huge fundraising lead (at least at the beginning). Plus, if you remember the initial polling, Clinton looked like an absolutely prohibitive favorite.

Posted by: jimBOB on May 9, 2008 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Three cheers for Kevin!!!

(even if he supported that damn Iraq War..but he's a changed and better news master now!)

And, Obama--all the way to the presidency!

Posted by: Dr Wu, I'm just an ordinary guy on May 9, 2008 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

steve wrote:

Hillary never claimed more than one half of the early votes. Obama originally split the rest with John Edwards When Edwards pulled out of the race, most of his support went to Obama (which is interesting since Edwards was viewed as the union guy). Hillary needed Edwards to stay in the race to fragment the vote.

If you're trying to minimize Hillary's popularity, notice that it hasn't been 75%-Obama, 25%-Hillary in the popular national polls since Edwards dropped out. It's been about evenly split for a long time. So she hasn't been dispatched the way, say, Giuliani got kicked out of the race by waning popularity. She stayed in there, and that's why even now, she doesn't want to give up.

Regarding your thoughts about "why" she didn't want to renounce her Iraq war vote- why not use Ockham's razor instead ("the simplest explanations are usually the correct ones")? (1) Changing her mind would have been called weak and a cop-out by the media. They would have called her a liar, not a real Democrat (ambitious instead of being able to stand by what her considered judgment on a serious situation was), and a push-over. (2) Especially because she's a woman, and especially because of how hard the right-wingers always demonized her as a liberal caricature, she ensured mainstream viability for her campaign by taking some positions that were not "left."

So choosing her position on the Iraq war was not an ill-considered, wimpy, deceptive move, but one that made sense from the point of view of common sense.

Cal Gal at 3:50: We had Colin Powell on TV showing us vials of powder and pictures and saying "This is the stuff" and "These are the weapons." We had Colin Powell showing us stuff he was claiming was evidence and vouching for going to war! That's what we had. People who try to hang Hillary on a nail for the vote strike me as insincere liberals. Conservative politicians had a reason to know the White House was full of bull, because presumably they know the guys and talk with them more frankly and therefore know what motivates them better than we do. Democrats could look at a Republican president and guess that he wouldn't really start a war just to get his friends in the oil industry owing him and his friends favors.

Posted by: Swan on May 9, 2008 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

So choosing her position on the Iraq war was not an ill-considered, wimpy, deceptive move, but one that made sense from the point of view of common sense.

I don't profess to being able to read her mind as to why she didn't change her vote. It's worth noting, though, that I fail to see the persuasive power of these sorts of explanations with respect to the question of whether Iraq did, or should have, cost her the nomination.

Let's assume that she believes that indeed her vote was a mistake but doesn't want to admit it. How does that change things? If anything, it makes the voters' decision even more just. After all, if she was just gambling, placing her chips on red instead of black, she really doesn't have any ground to complain if the wheel came up black.

What her supporters seem to want with this argument is for her to be able to collect the payoff if the war went well (she was courageous and right and stood up to Saddam, etc.) while not losing her bet if the war went poorly.

Whereas, Obama supporters who were motivated by the war simply want politicians to cast an honest vote on the war based on their best judgment, and be held to account if their judgment turns out to be incorrect.

It seems to me that the latter is the superior model.

Posted by: Dilan Esper on May 9, 2008 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

"Changing her mind would have been called weak and a cop-out by the media."

Note that she said at the time of the AUMF vote that invading would be a bad idea. She never changed her mind that forcing inspections was a good idea and that invading wasn't one; and most sensible people agree on those points. That Bush was going to war was an unfortunate fact unrelated in practice to the AUMF.

Posted by: rilkefan on May 9, 2008 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Iraq should be an albatross by any fair estimation. I hope it was the major albatross for Hillary, for that means big trouble for McCain.

I think Obama is amazingly gifted, but I wouldn't underestimate his luck. Luck makes a winner. Some people are just lucky. He seems to be one of those people.

Posted by: Bob M on May 9, 2008 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: Barack Obama is highly likely to be the next president of the United States because he opposed a dumb war.

That's another way of saying he made the right decision at the time about the most important foreign policy issue since the fall of the Soviet Union, and she didn't. Democrats take notice, indeed.

Posted by: anandine on May 9, 2008 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

That Bush was going to war was an unfortunate fact unrelated in practice to the AUMF.

What does AUMF stand for again? I forgot....

Posted by: Dilan Esper on May 9, 2008 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think it was necessarily AUMF that crippled her chances, though. Plenty of solid Democrats who've been welcomed back into the lefty fold voted for it, too.

Clinton is surely in the fold, but that doesn't mean she hasn't forfeited her shot at the presidency.

I became a one issue voter (first time in my life), like BombIran upthread, when I released that, 5 years down the road, I was finally getting the chance to vote for a national candidate who did not vote for the war.

Posted by: Boronx on May 9, 2008 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

The funny thing is a Clinton is now promoting herself as the champion of blue collar values. One of the big ones is that you are supposed to stick up for your side. If your a liberal act like one, don't do the finger in the wind triangulation. You will get more respect at the VFW for being resolutely opposed to them than being irresolutely half right.

Wellstone understood this and won elections.

Posted by: snoey on May 9, 2008 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

My problem with Hillary Clinton is her insistence that she didn't vote to authorize war when clearly she did since no further votes were needed to go to war.

What the Congress did in the fall of 2002 was give away their power. The resolution that fall should have required Bush to come back to Congress for additional authorization prior to the actual invasion. He might have won that vote anyway, but at least it would have been clear that members of Congress knew they were voting on whether to invade or not.

Furthermore, in Clinton's speech, she says the following:

"And perhaps my decision is influenced by my eight years of experience on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue in the White House watching my husband deal with serious challenges to our nation. I want this President, or any future President, to be in the strongest possible position to lead our country in the United Nations or in war."

So she essentially voted to give away the Congressional Authority to declare war in order to give the Executive Branch a stronger position to lead our country into possible war.

A mistake I could forgive, but, in talking about her vote, I feel she wanted to have it both ways. A mistake I could forgive. Not realizing that a mistake was made by the Democrats, that they bear some responsibility... that I can not abide.

Posted by: PE on May 9, 2008 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

"Barack Obama is highly likely to be the next president of the United States because he opposed a dumb war"

Try this one.

Barack Obama is highly likely to be the next president of the United States because he had the integrity and courage to oppose what was a fully predictable dumb [disasteous] war. Integrity and courage is the operative phrase here.

I have little doubt that Ms. Clinton (and many others) probably recognized a bad decision in the making, but went along with the crowd for political reasons.

Integrity and courage... hmmm... why not try some for a change... haven't seen any in the White House for a long time.

Looking on the bright side, it's nearly impossible to find worse than we've had for the last 8 years.

Posted by: Buford on May 9, 2008 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

Steve at 4:41: We also had some senators reading the whole NIE, and among those Democrats that did so, a majority voting no.

What I remember from that time was a tiny Democratic Senate majority, a popular President, and the idea that if the Senate could get past the AUMF vote quickly, there would be time to get the nation thinking about other things and to save the Democratic majority in the Senate.

Maybe my memory is off, but I recall leadership that was not very courageous and was acting as if its political position was weak, and every Democrat that voted yes is susceptible to that charge, fair or otherwise.

(Interesting aside: the Republicans took 3 seats from Democrats in the 2002 Senate election: Georgia (Cleland), Missouri (Carnahan), and Minnesota (Wellstone, who was replaced by Mondale on teh ballot). Note that the two living incumbents that lost both voted "Yes" for AUMF!) No Democrat appeared to be hurt by a brave position on that vote.

Posted by: Threegoal on May 9, 2008 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

I agree that the Iraq vote eventually played a role in Clinton's trailing in the race. That would have been a more difficult argument to make in October last year or even in January when Clinton led 47-31.
Since October last year, and continuing to this day, Clinton has been subjected to the usual Clinton animus from the media in general and NBC particularly. I think this has also had an effect.
The media were happy to play with the Wright affair, and Fox continues to be happy, but the issue doesn't have the history (yet) that the Clinton pander has.
There's no doubt that each of Clinton's missteps have cost her incremental votes and all of them combined to put her behind.

Posted by: TJM on May 9, 2008 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

The fact is that Sen. Obama represented the most liberal senatorial district in IL, where an anti-war vote was not controversial in the least. The speech was given at a neighborhood peace rally, and was little noticed at the time, nor remembered now. (Incidentally, that speech was quite hard to find when we seemed to be winning in Iraq.)

In truth, Sen. Obama's and Sen. Clinton's actual record on the war is virtually identical.

This is a case where the brilliant pundits of the blogosphere wanted--desperately wanted--an anti-war candidate, and they used Obama's speech as evidence that they'd found him.

Posted by: John Petty on May 9, 2008 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

The fact is that Sen. Obama represented the most liberal senatorial district in IL, where an anti-war vote was not controversial in the least. The speech was given at a neighborhood peace rally, and was little noticed at the time, nor remembered now. (Incidentally, that speech was quite hard to find when we seemed to be winning in Iraq.) In truth, Sen. Obama's and Sen. Clinton's actual record on the war is virtually identical.

Again, though, this sort of thing doesn't come to grips with what some Obama voters are so tired of. If the claim is that Hillary made a political calculation respect to the war and Obama had the luxury of making a different political calculation, that is not any different from saying that both of them bet a horse in the race, and Obama's ticket cashed and Hillary's didn't. Far from being identical, those are two opposing records.

I simply hold Hillary responsible for the substantive decision to take this country to war, which Obama didn't make. But if you insist on talking about the war as if it was nothing more than a crass wager that one made based on one's particular political circumstances as opposed to a grave decision to send brave members of the armed forced off to die in a foreign land, then fine. She lost the bet and the voters held her accountable. Nothing unjust about that.

Posted by: Dilan Esper on May 9, 2008 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

I am going to agree with Scott. The nomination was Hillary's, but with her vote to give Bush approval to invade Iraq she opened the door to a challenger.

That challenger could have been someone like Dennis Kucinich, but it wasn't. Obama is probably the most gifted politician today on the national stage, and he has stepped through the door Hillary opened.

It didn't hurt his campaign any that Hillary has demonstrated a real tin ear on the reactions to her vote for the war in Iraq. As Karen Tumulty pointed out, she ...picked people for her team primarily for their loyalty to her, instead of their mastery of the game. Is there any better example than Penn?

Comparing Hillary's mismanagement of her campaign to that of Obama shows that we Democrats have dodged a bullet. She wasn't ready for prime time. That both surprises and saddens me.

Posted by: Rick B on May 9, 2008 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum, onetime war supporter and oftentime finger-in-the-wind blogger, using the Iraq War as a basis for a lecture on the value of taking principled stands. I'm gonna hurl.

Posted by: MG on May 9, 2008 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

Clinton lost the nomination the minute she decided that acting like the big bad ass in the room would win the nomination for her.

Clinton't every move has been based on political considerations. Her husband did the same with one basic difference: his political calculations were largely correct; her's were not.

Bill Clinton decided he was the touchy-feely candidate when it was obvious that Bush 1 had lost touch with the reality of life in American. Bill said he felt our pain. Was that wrong? No. (It was a little creepy, that's all).

The junior senator from NY, however, said she knew better than the rest of the country what was the best thing to do. So, not only did she vote for war, she refused to back down after it was obvious that more than half of America disagreed with her.

Bill would have reversed course, even if he felt it was the wrong thing to do policy-wise. That is what got him elected twice.

Posted by: Dicksknee on May 9, 2008 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

We had Colin Powell on TV showing us vials of powder and pictures and saying "This is the stuff" and "These are the weapons." We had Colin Powell showing us stuff he was claiming was evidence and vouching for going to war! That's what we had.
--Swan

Um, wrong. Most of Powell's claims had been debunked within 48 hours if you were paying attention and reading sources with some critical sense--the kind of sources Senators certainly should have access to if they're on their game at all. Who's "we" kemosabe?

Posted by: DrBB on May 9, 2008 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

from PE's post @ 5:04PM - "...I want this president, or any future president, to be in the strongest possible position to lead our country in the United Nations or in war."
My take on what Sen. Clinton said, and the reason I've never worried about any "apology" from her or any other Democratic politician, is that I read that as two separate but connected clauses: "the strongest possible position to lead our country in the United Nations AND the strongest possible position to lead our country in war." In other words, the AUMF was simply to strengthen the President's hands to peacefully deal with Iraq by showing that, if necessary, the country WOULD support a war to achieve the UN resolutions.
And if I'm remembering correctly, it worked the way Sen. Clinton and the others who voted aye expected it to - the inspectors were allowed back in. What wasn't expected was that Bush would ignore the reports of the inspectors; claim special, super-secret knowledge about the whereabouts of WMD's and spend two(?) months doing his best to panic the country into supporting what was no longer necessary: an invasion of Iraq.
The Presidency has been known to reshape its occupants for the better, Chester A. Arthur and Harry Truman come to mind, and until Bush actually commenced hostilities in Iraq, I had had a small hope that he might as well. I presume that many of the Senators that voted "aye" may have felt the same.
(I may have my timeline screwed up as this is from memory only.)

Posted by: Doug on May 9, 2008 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

If I had an opportunity to ask McCain and Obama one question, it would be this:

If you as President become convinced that it is necessary and unavoidable to go to war with another nation, will you promise to ask Congress for an unambiguous Declaration of War as FDR did? No AUMF, no Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, no War Powers Act, just a clear statement of purpose.

Posted by: OriGuy on May 9, 2008 at 8:02 PM | PERMALINK

Flatlander

You want leadership? Look at the machine Obama has built. We are going to get leadership, and we will go the direction Obama wants to go.

My problem is that I don't know what direction that is, but anything is better than the Republicans and almost anything is better than Hillary's backwards looking DLC excuse for "vision" together with her incompetent and out of touch loyalists.

Leaders succeed because they are useful to their followers. I can tell you that Obama will have coattails in Texas that Hillary would not. His machine is already making waves. He is going to make a difference here. I don't know where else that is going to be true, but I strongly doubt that it is merely in Texas. But we really don't know where he intends to lead us. His Kumbaya politics (remember that from January?) is a non-starter. It won't work. The conservatives are not sufficiently rational to be able to work with those who disagree with them. But the Kumbaya politics got him into the game for the nomination race, and his machine and Hillary's failed strategies and incompetent staff let him take the nomination. Obama is now the Democratic nominee.

With luck, Obama is educable. FDR, facing economic problems which were worse than what we have today only because of Hoover's inaction for four years, was educable. If Obama's not educable, then we progressives are going to have to start trench warfare against the entrenched blind Democratic establishment and perhaps the new Obamites. Some of that - against the entrenched blind Democratic establishment - is going to be necessary anyway. But from Obama we are going to get leadership. You can see it in his machine and in his campaign. All we can't see is where he is going to try to lead us.

Count on it. We are going to see leadership, and the Democratic party is going to go into shock. We're not used to it. [See my paragraph above.]

The Republicans are so abysmally bad that anything is better. I'm an Obama supporter, but in fact I'm a progressive who is currently allied with the Democratic Party because the Republicans are so abysmally much worse. Right now Obama is by far the best of a bunch of bad choices. I wish Edwards had been the kind of leader and organizer Obama is.

But I'm not alone, and when he is elected, Obama is going to have to deal with me and those like me.

Posted by: Rick B on May 9, 2008 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

And if I'm remembering correctly, it worked the way Sen. Clinton and the others who voted aye expected it to - the inspectors were allowed back in. What wasn't expected was that Bush would ignore the reports of the inspectors; claim special, super-secret knowledge about the whereabouts of WMD's and spend two(?) months doing his best to panic the country into supporting what was no longer necessary: an invasion of Iraq.

There's several problems with this:

1. The resolution authorized military force. Thus, it doesn't matter what Hillary subjectively desired from it-- she exercised her constitutional power to authorize the deaths of all those Americans and Iraqis.

2. It was, in any event, perfectly clear that there was a rush to war.

3. Indeed, Hillary would have surely claimed credit for the war had it went well. She wouldn't have said "oh, you know, I was actually wrong, I just wanted the President to get the inspectors back in".

4. Once it became clear that Bush was going to war despite the inspections, Hillary should have been out there with ANSWER protesting in the street. Instead, she continued supporting the war. And she did so for four more years.

5. The entire threat of Saddam Hussein was trumped up. We shouldn't have been worrying for one second about Iraq given the exigencies of fighting Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. This alone required a "no" vote.

Posted by: Dilan Esper on May 9, 2008 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

I doubt that it is "highly likely" that Obama will be the next president (probably about a 40% chance), but if he does, Kevin is right it will be because he opposed the war. However, before we provide any awards for courage or judgment on Obama, consider that 80% of the black caucus and I assume virtually all of Obama's south side lefty friends opposed it. It was hardly a profile in courage.

By the way, the following good news from Iraq makes Kevin's recent reaching to put the worst possible spin on Iraq is again being exposed as partisan argument:

"In big concession, militia agrees to let Iraqi troops into Sadr City. "Followers of rebel cleric Muqtada al Sadr agreed late Friday to allow Iraqi security forces to enter all of Baghdad's Sadr City and to arrest anyone found with heavy weapons in a surprising capitulation that seemed likely to be hailed as a major victory for Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki." It's looking as if Maliki had a better idea of what he was doing than various press-and-pundit types in the United States."

Posted by: on May 9, 2008 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK

One other ironic part of the Hillary pro-war vote is that it was viewed at the time, probably accurately, as a vote she made to provide the foundation for her to run for president in the future. The talk then was that she had to show she was tough enough to be president. I assume her primary motivation was to promote her presidential aspirations. I assume Obama's motivation was to line up with his lefty anti-war friends. Now, in a great example of unforeseen consquences, the vote gets Obama the democrat nomination and beats Hillary.

Posted by: on May 9, 2008 at 8:28 PM | PERMALINK

Jim

When Obama ran against Hillary's vote on AUMF, he was defining her. It was not important what he would have done at the same time. He was creating perceptions of Hillary rather than himself.

He was right. Hillary blew it with that vote. And at that time I would have agreed with her. What obama would have done is irrelevant. All he had to do was show her failure at that point.

With that vote she created the political opening that Obama stepped into. It was baggage she carried and will always carry, and it was baggage that Obama did not and does not carry. The fact that he does not carry that baggage is not something that can effectively be used against him.

Posted by: Rick B on May 9, 2008 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

As a lifetime Democrat, I will not vote for Obama.

I don't need another man whose sole talent is in self promotion.

I pity a country where people are so poorly informed as not to realize that only pass attempts matter- I value Clinton for her attempts years ago to get us all health care, for maternal leave for trying to make the society understand what child care is.

Anytime there is a risky proposal in the Senate Obama puts down: present.

Well, duh.

I want somebody willing and able to fight for our basic social needs.

I don't care for special treatment group candidates- we have one now.

And yes, I a m a woman, fairly young, very educated and a minority.

Profiled to vote against Hilary.

If the Democratic male machine forces her out, I predict that the rift caused by showing all women that sexual organs matter more than achievements,experience, skills and courage will be permanent.

Posted by: L..B. on May 9, 2008 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

...sometimes getting big policies wrong really is politically damaging.

I agree too, Kevin. I was for Edwards until he dropped out and didn't have any preference for Obama or HRC for 2nd choice. When Edwards dropped out, it was really tough to make up my mind who to vote for. This Tom Tomorrow cartoon probably changed my mind and the theme is her Iraq war vote:
http://images.villagevoice.com/issues/0751/tmw-big.jpg

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on May 9, 2008 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

After 8-years of rove, junior, dick and the necons i cannot believe anyone would vote for the repukes...especially a candidate that looks like he should be in a wax museum, has a resume not much better than junior's, and showing early stages of alhemizers. cleve

Posted by: cleve on May 9, 2008 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

L.B., please just grow up.

BHO won with decency and the best campaign in recent American history. His only slip so far was the "cling and bitter" comment. Everything else was hurled at him, aided and abetted by someone who ran a lousy campaign.

Grow up and vote the issues between McCain and Obama.

Posted by: Manfred on May 9, 2008 at 10:48 PM | PERMALINK

L.B.,

That's just brilliant. Don't vote for Obama, so you can increase the likelihood that McCain is our next President, and he gets to make the next four SCOTUS appointments and keep us in Iraq for the forseeable future. Brilliant.

Your petty attitude is a good example of exactly what is wrong with the Democratic Party-- too many people who vote their raw sentiment, rather than actually engaging their brain. I loathe Hillary Clinton, I absolutely despise the ground she walks on, but in November I will vote for her if she is the nominee, because the alternative is unthinkable. Grow up, please.

Posted by: elrod on May 9, 2008 at 11:11 PM | PERMALINK

Anytime there is a risky proposal in the Senate Obama puts down: present.

And whatever credibility LB had quickly vanishes with the repetition of a bogus talking point....you forgot to say that Obama is really a Muslim and the candidate of Hamas.

Posted by: Joe on May 10, 2008 at 1:19 AM | PERMALINK

before we provide any awards for courage or judgment on Obama, consider that 80% of the black caucus and I assume virtually all of Obama's south side lefty friends opposed it. It was hardly a profile in courage.

See, even if you're RIGHT, but you're right for the WRONG reasons, such as the overwhelming morality of your community, it doesn't count.

Just so we're clear, how could Obama have been RIGHT in a way that would satisfy you?

Posted by: Repack Rider on May 10, 2008 at 1:38 AM | PERMALINK

It is THE reason I ended up voting for Obama back on Super Tuesday.

(Of course, since then Hillary has confirmed that choice for me.)

Posted by: Robert Earle on May 10, 2008 at 2:33 AM | PERMALINK

The man has tried to create a religion around his candidacy. What a phony. Send me a postcard from Guyana guys.

Posted by: Patty on May 10, 2008 at 2:43 AM | PERMALINK

L.B.: If the Democratic male machine forces her out, I predict that the rift caused by showing all women that sexual organs matter more than achievements,experience, skills and courage will be permanent.

I was fighting for equal rights--including yours--in the 60's and 70's. I walked door-to-door day-in and day-out for months on end, campaigning, getting out the vote, and ensuring everyone could vote, even in off years. I had the highest voter registration percentage in the country in my precinct while I was precinct captain.

So don't lecture about someone who is "willing and able to fight for our basic social need". I was there. We fought for it. We fought for you. And while we didn't win all the battles, we did pretty damn good. And what we earned often came hard, with blood, sweat and tears.

In case you hadn't guessed, I am a Democrat. I am also (now) an Obama supporter. You think it's OK to shit on me and insinuate that because I support Obama, that we're all are part of this "Democratic male machine" out to torpedoe Hillary?

You offend me. You offend the principles for which the Democratic party has fought--probably for longer than you've been alive. Fuck you. Fuck you and the horse you rode in on.

Posted by: has407 on May 10, 2008 at 6:28 AM | PERMALINK

The evidence was all there, the Europeans knew better, 30% of this country knew better, and I knew better. If the Clintons did not, they deserve all the consequences. Unfortunately, we can't forcibly send the Clintons to Iraq so they're getting off easy. Their callous pandering is the sort of act that makes me wish for the existence of hell.

I'm sick and tired of Clinton apologists. Do the Iraqi people get a do over? Do the dead national guardsmen? Are the kids who'll be paying off Iraqi war debts 40 years from now, either in bond payments or debased currency, get a do over? There are horrible consequences for Hillary Clinton's actions and the fact that she still supports Bush's amoral war makes me wish her the very worst.

Posted by: anon on May 10, 2008 at 7:53 AM | PERMALINK

L.B., f&ck off. Your thought show you to be no better than a Republican thug. You may think you're better, but your blind unthinking comment calls you out. I'm all the things that you say you are, except I came with a functional brain.

Posted by: anon on May 10, 2008 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

If only things were this simple...I'll be sitting back watching to hear all the comments now coming out (like this one) that bemoan Hillary's loss (perhaps more than people expect) and many of them from the idiots that have gone after her since the campaign began...you will never convince ME that she was treated fairly...this should have been manipulated (since manipulation was the order of the day) by DEMS into a combined ticked back when it was obvious it would be THE TWO OF THEM...it just made sense...her for president and him for VP to get his foot in there, gain some experience and more support and work together to bring the CHANGES needed here IF a workable Congress got elected...another stupid blown opportunity by the GREAT MINDS AND THAT LIKE TO BE IN CHARGE!!! Too late now suckers...

Posted by: Dancer on May 10, 2008 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK

Bull.

It was a media popularity contest, and Obama got 15 years' head start.

Before the Obama campaign capitalized, she had negative ratings that had been driven up by endless personal attacks on her by a GOP machine that feared her.

Where do you think America got the idea that she was cold, calculating, emasculating, deceptive, unscrupulous, opportunistic, and on and on and on?

Obama's campaign repeated and reinforced the memes, and his team had the cynicism to say "Hillary's negatives are through the roof" after they provided the booster rockets.

Sh has largely been succesful at finally breaking down those perceptions of her to a point where she is widely admired now for her drive, courage, and determination, but it's come a little too late.

I have no doubt whatsoever she would defeat Obama decisively if the contests were held again.

As to the war in Iraq, Obama has been so succesful in making the media carry his story that many Americans actually believe right now he voted against the war.

He actually could not even vote, since he wasn't a US Senator when the AUMF vote took place.

Posted by: Wellstonw on May 10, 2008 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

I'm from NY and supported and voted for Hillary for Senator. However, on the day she cast her AUMF vote I swore to myself that I would never ever vote for her again for any office. I agree completely with anon at 7:53 AM that the evidence against the presence of WMD was all there on the day of that vote. Judging from comments here, I'd say that Kevin is right. Her AUMF vote played a big part in turning off anti-war Dems. And as someone said upthread, this was not a 'little' error but a huge one that has carried an enormous cost. It would be interesting to do a study of Hillary and Obama supporters on this issue to see what the information sources for their views on pre-war Iraq were. I really get the feeling that many Hillary supporters here relied on the MSM for Iraq info while I and others relied almost exclusively on internet sources, being overwhelmed by the level of propaganda I perceived in MSM. That difference could not only explain the choice of candidate but also the antagonism expressed between the two groups.

Posted by: nepeta on May 10, 2008 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

PS: Many excellent comments on this thread.

Posted by: nepeta on May 10, 2008 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

How silly to play, "What if?" Consider...

If Hillary had voted against the war, that act would signify that she was not Hillary. Not the finger-in-the-wind politician who would do anything, including giving Bush the authority to wage his lovely little war, so she would look tough when she made her run for president.

So, yeah, Not-Hillary might be a better person, because she would be a principled person. But then if she were Not-Hillary, she would not have married that calculating Bill Clinton, and she would not have put up with his skirt chasing, for the sake of perpetuating her political hungers, so she would not have worn the famous name.

In other words, Not-Hillary would be in the position of every other Not-Hillary in the land. Not nominated.


Posted by: James of DC on May 10, 2008 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

If Obama wins the nomination, I wonder if his supporters will continue to be as graceless as they are now.

You'd think they'd be on a "charm offensive," but I guess the supporters of the "hope" and "unity" candidate can't bring themselves to do it.

Posted by: John Petty on May 10, 2008 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Since she couldn't be honest about voting for the war, dodging bullets at Tuzla, supporting NAFTA, etc, why should any thinking person assume that she would end the war upon taking office?

I think if she were president, she would continue the war for at least a few more years.

Basically, she's a liar.

Posted by: bebimbob on May 10, 2008 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Personally I denounce all wars that eventually lose the support of the nation and media and support all the short smart ones.

However, the next POTUS after him is likely to succeed because they're on the correct side of some other historical precipice. It could be an economic program or tax restructuring or something.

Posted by: B on May 10, 2008 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

John Petty, I could not agree with you more that Obama supporters should be reaching out to Clinton supporters, many of whom have made it abundantly clear that they consider Obama to be far from a perfect candidate (fair enough, I do too).

But this is made difficult when Clinton supporters take to the internet in droves declaring "As a lifelong Democrat, I will not vote for Obama!" This is a feeble little burst of petulance dressed up as principle, and it diminishes whoever writes it.

This has been a tough contest, and there will no doubt be some unhappiness on the part of those who have supported candidates who did not win. But for the good of your country, you need to get over it. Only you can determine when that's going to happen, and I am unmoved by all manifestos about how great John McCain looks to you now and how you're going to send him money because Hillary can't win.

Posted by: sweaty guy on May 10, 2008 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

If Obama had been a senator four years earlier, I wonder how he'd have voted on the war. He had the good fortune not to be in position where his stance was going to cost him politically. For some reason a lot of the Dem senators with presidential ambitions felt the need to vote for the war. I think Edwards truly regrets his decision and if he could have changed one thing in his record, it would be that vote. He knows he was wrong. I don't think Clinton sees it the same way. She may see that it was a political mistake, the way things have turned out, but l don't thing she understands that it was plain wrong.

Obama has been overly cautious, imo, since he's become a senator. l have no idea if his personal conviction about the war would have overridden the advice he would surely have gotten to vote yes on the AUMF. We'll never know. And for that, he'll probably be the next president.

Posted by: on May 10, 2008 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

He had the good fortune not to be in position where his stance was going to cost him politically.

Once again, the rap on Obama is that even if he was "right," he wasn't right in the right way, or at the right time, or he didn't have the right stuff at stake, only his political future.

He only had the intelligence and the moral bearings to make the correct decision, which ironically enough, will not only did NOT "cost him politically," but seems likely to propel him into the presidency.

So tell us, how could Obama have been "right" in a way that satisfies you?

Posted by: Repack Rider on May 10, 2008 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

Senator Obama is going to be the next President because he had the good fortune of not being in the Senate when the war vote was taken. He has voted for funding the war on two separate occasions since then. One wonders what the pressures would have been had he had to vote on the original measure.

Posted by: les ismore on May 10, 2008 at 10:05 PM | PERMALINK

He had the good fortune not to be in position where his stance was going to cost him politically.

Do people not understand that statements like this make Hillary look even less appealing?

They're essentially saying that had Hillary not had anything at stake politically, she would have been as free as Obama to be publicly against the war.....

BEING POLITICALLY CRAVEN IS NOT A GOOD THING.

Hillary supporters need to understand that there are only 3 possible reasons Hillary voted for the war:

1. She thought invading Iraq was a good idea....in which case she demonstrated incredibly poor judgment.

2. She knew it was the wrong thing to do, but felt that she'd suffer politically if she voted no.....in which case she's just another gutless politician who put her own political interests above all else.

3. She was fooled by the Bush administration into thinking Iraq was a threat that needed to be confronted when it wasn't....in which case she's embarrassingly naive and gullible.

Those are your choices, and I'm sure which one is worst....

Posted by: Joe on May 10, 2008 at 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

"I was for Edwards until he dropped out and didn't have any preference for Obama or HRC for 2nd choice. When Edwards dropped out, it was really tough to make up my mind who to vote for. This Tom Tomorrow cartoon probably changed my mind and the theme is her Iraq war vote:
http://images.villagevoice.com/issues/0751/tmw-big.jpg"

Funny--this describes where I was at EXACTLY, down to the cartoon. I certainly wasn't happy about HRC's AUMF vote, or her other various triangulations, but I respected her intelligence and capabilities and was willing to support her. What finally convinced me to take a chance on Obama was his leadership and willingness to take a principled stand. I believe the tipping point for me was when he refused to "scapegoat" illegal immigrants for the economic problems of the black community, while HRC was trying to sound tough while simultaneously pandering on the issue. I realized then how hungry we are for true leadership, and that HRC just wasn't going to provide that, any more than Kerry did. The AUMF vote is just one example of that larger problem, albeit a pretty honkin' big example.

Posted by: Jess on May 10, 2008 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

Joe: Those are your choices, and I'm sure which one is worst....

Hillary's Oct 2002 floor speech is pretty clear. She did an excellent job laying out the options, the consequences, and her reasons for voting in favor of the AUMF. I can only wish more of our representatives were able to articulate such a range of complex issues and tradeoffs as concisely as she did in a 20 minute speech.

Yes, she got the AUMF vote wrong, and ultimately that's what counts. But if her floor speech is any indication, she didn't get there easily--as many others did. For that she deserves credit. If she did what she thought was right--and I think she did--she shouldn't need to apologize for it (as many have demanded). She admitted she was wrong, and that is sufficient.

It is what followed the Oct 2002 AUMF vote--especially in early 2003--that raises doubt in my mind, and for which I think she deserves to be justifiably criticized.

Posted by: has407 on May 10, 2008 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

p.s. And although I'm an Obama supporter, I'd level the same criticism at him. If we take the AUMF vote out of the picture, and focus on what's happened since--i.e., since both Obama and Clinton have been in the Senate--there's not that much distance between the two.

Posted by: has407 on May 11, 2008 at 12:04 AM | PERMALINK

She did an excellent job laying out the options, the consequences, and her reasons for voting in favor of the AUMF. I can only wish more of our representatives were able to articulate such a range of complex issues and tradeoffs as concisely as she did in a 20 minute speech./

Yes, I agree. And I'm terribly sad and disappointed that she couldn't translate her many abilities into being a better leader. She seems to be suffering from the trees-vs-forest myopia, or perhaps is just blinded by ambition and ego. I still admire her strength and determination, though, however misapplied it may be at this point.

Posted by: Jess on May 11, 2008 at 2:27 AM | PERMALINK

has407: Hillary's Oct 2002 floor speech is pretty clear.

Are you serious? Because it's on youtube (click here) if you want to watch it again. It was the most rambling, cover-your-ass style of speech I've ever seen. She hemmed and hawed back and forth, and then in the end pretended that she wasn't voting to go to war.

Her speech typified everything that's wrong with our modern Congress. They are too gutless to live up to their responsibilities, one of which is the sole-authority to declare war. Instead they side-step, give the President the power to wage war, and then take credit for their vote when the war goes well or act like they weren't voting for war when it does not.

Posted by: Joe on May 11, 2008 at 2:39 AM | PERMALINK

Joe -- Yes, I'm serious. I watched it then, and I watched it again recently--the 20 minutes during which she "hemmed and hawed" were, I think, a very good attempt to illuminate all sides of the debate.

The wonkish side of me holds her in regard for what I think was a good attempt to articulate the issues and her rationale, even while the results-are-what-count side of me criticizes her for getting it wrong.

I've screwed up big time on a occasion--cost people their jobs and put their lives in a tailspin. Nothing like putting 's lives at risk, but it's a humbling experience, makes me more understanding of that hemming and hawing, and a lot more cautious.

Posted by: has407 on May 11, 2008 at 3:51 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: valium on May 11, 2008 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

"If we take the AUMF vote out of the picture, and focus on what's happened since--i.e., since both Obama and Clinton have been in the Senate--there's not that much distance between the two."

The trouble is that it's much more difficult to end an ill-advised war than to prevent it from getting started in the first place. Once Bush drove us off that cliff, our choices were severely limited.

Having said that, yes, I wish the Congressional Democrats, including Obama and Clinton, had shown more backbone and truly had offered real leadership on this issue.

Posted by: PaulB on May 11, 2008 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

We had Colin Powell on TV showing us vials of powder and pictures and saying "This is the stuff" and "These are the weapons." We had Colin Powell showing us stuff he was claiming was evidence and vouching for going to war! That's what we had.

But the Senators who bothered to traipse down to the basement and read the National Intelligence Assessment Report ended up voting against the war because they realized it was all b.s. after reading the report. That Clinton couldn't be bothered to go read it herself instead of accepting the Bush administration brief is one of the things that led me to vote for Obama.

And LB, I'm a feminist and female and find your comments embarrassing to the cause. Presumably you're pro-choice if you equate voting for Clinton with voting for feminist causes. Letting McCain get into office sure as hell isn't going to help.

Posted by: lou on May 12, 2008 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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