Political Animal

Blog

December 19, 2013 9:25 AM Schweitzer’s Wayback Machine

By Ed Kilgore

Speaking of the Clintons, the former Secretary of State’s ears might have been burning yesterday when former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer traveled to Iowa and made news by suggesting Democrats think long and hard before nominating for president anyone who voted for the Iraq War in 2002.

Wonder who he could have been talking about?

Schweitzer didn’t mention that the presumptive frontrunner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, Hillary Clinton, voted to authorize the war as a U.S. senator representing New York in 2002.
After his speech, asked about Clinton’s vote, Schweitzer answered with a grin, “Did she vote for it? I didn’t keep track. I think there were 21 Democrats who didnt vote for it, she might’ve been one of those.”

Clinton’s Iraq vote was, of course, a big “background” issue in the 2008 Democratic nomination contest, and a difficult-to-quantify asset for Barack Obama. Could it still be in 2016?

If Schweitzer runs for president and takes the “populist” route he often exemplified in Montana, you could expect all sorts of aspects of HRC’s history and persona to come under direct attack, from her imputed responsibility for the 42d president’s policies that displeased liberals, to her ties to the financial sector as a Senator from New York, and yes, to her vote for the Iraq War and for “war on terror” policies as someone representing the state hit hardest on 9/11. It’s another matter altogether whether Democrats have an appetite for these kind of questions, and/or will be more focused on preventing the inauguration of President Cruz or President Christie or whoever the GOP nominates.

I will say that Schweitzer is in some danger of looking a bit out of date if he runs for president as a pol who seems to draw his entire perspective from What’s the Matter With Kansas? CNN’s Peter Hamby noted the wayback-machine element of the Montanan’s message in Iowa:

To observers of his sometimes-haphazard speech, which also touched on education and prison reform, along with transparently folksy Midwestern nods to cattle and 4H, his Iraq observations seemed somewhat dated.
“Are you tweeting from 2004?” one Twitter user wrote to a reporter covering the speech.

On the other hand, I suppose you could say that if Democrats are going to nominate the wife of their 1992 candidate, some questions from the past are inevitable. But it’s just exhausting to think of another cycle dominated by reconsiderations of the Clinton legacy.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

(You may use HTML tags for style)

comments powered by Disqus