An Aye for an Aye?

One month from tomorrow, the Iraq War will be half a decade old. It will be the job of the next President—assuming he or she cares enough to respect the vox populi—to extricate the U.S. from this costly mess. Don’t count on “Maverick” McCain to take swift action in this regard. If he winds up occupying the White House, American troops could be occupying Iraq for the next hundred years or more. Chances are that it will take one of the Democratic contenders to get the job done. Both Clinton and Obama seem to be in favor of ending the war—or, at least, beginning a withdrawal of troops. But which of them can be most trusted to back up their talk by walking the walk?

My head and my heart say Obama. His opposition to the war has been more consistent and of greater duration than Ms. Clinton’s. And she did, after all, vote in the affirmative on the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002. While it’s true (as a recent commenter to this site pointed out) that Obama was not in the Senate at the time and thus was neither privy to the same information nor subject to the same political pressures as his opponent, that does not change the fact that Clinton voted, “Aye.” And it seems disingenuous for her to explain away her vote as the mere product of inadequate or inaccurate information. She has suggested that she and others would have voted against the resolution “if we knew then what we know now.” But others did know—or, at least, have an inkling—that the resolution was dangerous and unwise. Twenty-one of the fifty Democrats in the Senate at the time knew enough to vote, “Nay.” A sizable majority (61%) of the Democrats in the House also voted, “Nay.” Is Ms. Clinton suggesting that she is more susceptible to being bamboozled or steamrolled than her nay-saying colleagues? Or that she is somehow more ignorant and less prescient? Hillary Clinton is many things, but unintelligent and uninformed are not among her qualities. (President Bush, on the other hand…) She is shrewd, smart, and perceptive. So how could she vote, “Aye”?

Perhaps because she is shrewd, smart, and perceptive—and she already had her sights set on a run for the presidency. I firmly believe that her vote was more about her future ambitions than the nation’s immediate needs. It was more about political self-interest (the I) than public interest (the we). It was a shameless effort to position herself as a no-nonsense centrist willing and able to make tough decisions. In short, she was packaging herself for the electorate’s eventual consumption, selling out in order to sell herself.

And that is why I do not trust her and believe that Obama is the better person for the job. He seems to possess greater integrity and to be more genuine. Where Ms. Clinton seems to inspire a certain wariness, Mr. Obama inspires hope. While one can argue that her experience (however exaggerated) makes her more suited to lead from “day one” of the presidency, Obama seems more suited to lead in the days beyond. This nation is hungry for change and desperate to put the partisan politics and feckless policies of the past behind us. Obama has tapped into our collective desires and discontent in a way that no candidate in recent memory has. He is galvanizing a new generation of voters. In that regard, he is a true leader. Can the same honestly be said about Hillary Clinton? Her history and character suggest otherwise. In 2002, she was among those who led us into war. Is she really the best person to lead us out of war and into the peace and healing that must, of necessity, follow? Does her “Aye” deserve yours?

5 thoughts on “An Aye for an Aye?

  1. thank you for putting it so well. i have a mistrust of charisma, and i don’t want to vote based on an emotion, but barack obama seems like the right president for this time. and thank you for reminding us that many members of congress, as well as us citizens who were freezing on the state house lawn with our signs, warned our leaders not to start this war.

  2. I agree with you completely that it was the wrong decision for anyone in Congress to vote for going to war in Iraq. However, we can not just blindly support a candidate that has based his entire campaign on a decision he was not there to vote on. That is not just a small detail. Obama has run an extremely well thought out and strategic campaign and has made the only case he can make; he is the agent of change, which completely distracts from the fact that he has no experience and no record in the Senate to stand on. If someone is running for the president of the United States, no one should be criticized or berated for simply asking what they have accomplished. To know what the next president will do, look at what they have already done. I am a supporter of Hillary Clinton, and I certainly don’t agree with everything she’s done. But I do know that she has consistently demonstrated determination, resolve, and the ability to handle tough questions and situations with grace and gumption. Barack Obama may have charisma, but charisma doesn’t fix America’s problems. So, when looking at Hillary’s record, look at her whole record. I think you will find there are many more accomplishments than Obama, and that will give you an idea of what she will do as president.

  3. It is easy to say you were against something that you were not able to vote for or against it in the first place. But the truth is that Hillary’s vote happened and now she’s between Iraq and a hard place because, if she says she was wrong the media will crucify her like they did John Kerry, and if she doesn’t, the ultra left-wing will crucify her. If we believe her that she was voting to give power to the president to flex his diplomatic muscle, then it stands to reason that if she were president in the same situation she would have used the power granted by congress in the act for diplomacy. It is unfair to characterize her as a political opportunist because of this vote. I think it is more important to note that her first impulse would have been to use the powers of the commander-in-chief for diplomacy and not death.

  4. I think she would have been far wiser in the last seven years than to start a war of aggression on false pretenses. I think that the Clintons and Al Gore were far more concerned about Osama Bin Laden and Al Quaida than George Bush was. I think that if Pres Bush had read and acted on the memo, ‘Bin Laden Determined to Attack in United States’ then 9/11 might have been prevented. I think that Hillary Clinton for president would be far better than John Mc Cain’s 100 year war. But Hillary Clinton, knowing what she knows, has still not been the critic of the Bush abuses that I want her to be. That’s why she has not earned my vote.

  5. David,I usually agree with you, but I think you are a bit too hard on, and a bit unfair to Hillary in this case. Take a look at the comment from Kathy on the next thread, or any of those from jeanineforhillary.

    Yes, the ideologically correct response in 2002 was to vote against the war. However, to infer–without any real proof–that Hillary’s vote was cast with an eye to her future run borders on…the sort of pathological Clinton-hatred that we saw so much of back in the 90s.

    In all cases, the worst, most cynical motives were ascribed to Bill by the MSM, which were then swallowed whole by the public. There was no Whitewater scandal, but everyone believes there was. You are doing something a little too similar here. The Senate was fed misinformation by the Cheney gang, who had his own private intelligence service that stovepiped all the worst intelligence directly to Cheney. The VP then passed this stuff along as absolute fact.

    To date, Obama has been a bit vague. It’s like having a crush on someone you don’t know; because they are a blank slate, they become a canvass to decorate with our own desires. This is possible because there isn’t any evidence to the contrary.

    IMHO, either Hillary or Obama will be a good president. Each will bring a different set of talents–and deficiencies–to the job, which means they will approach the problems we face differently. But that’s OK; complex problems can be solved in lots of different ways.

    For example, I believe Hillary has a much better handle on how to fight the Reps down in the trenches. Obama provides the hope (and that’s all it is) that trench-warfare won’t be necessary. I sincerely wish I could be so sure of that.

    The thing that is starting to bother me is the way partisans of one or the other feel the need to demonize the other’s candidate. Hillary is not a bad choice. Neither is Obama. It is not necessary to produce a thousand reasons why the other is unacceptable. There is no “right” answer. Let me hear your positives, not your negatives. That goes for Nancy, too. It may be that “he seems to possess greater integrity,” but based on what evidence? That he hasn’t been backed into a really tight corner yet?

    I absolutely agree that Obama seems to be the one who can soar above the mud and dirt, and truly inspire, and so truly lead. But foundations of real structures have to be laid in the mud and dirt. My concern about Obama is that he has, generally, been the last of the Dem candidates to stake out detailed positions, such as presenting a real plan for health care.

    So let’s not bash Hillary in our zeal to uphold Obama. Lord knows that the Republicans will be doing enough of that. And I honestly think that the Reps overwhelmingly would prefer Pres Obama to Pres Clinton. What are the implications of that?

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