Election 2008

In yesterday’s Best of the Web, James Taranto makes great points about Hilary the Candidate’s latest pronouncements that she will end the war in Iraq if elected President.

Regarding the obvious inconsistencies noted in her having voted *for* the war in 2002, but now saying that she would not have done it if she were President at that time, James notes:

Whether or not you think the war was a good idea, it was indisputably the product of President Bush’s leadership. He rallied the country behind it, so that it commanded something like 70% support in opinion polls. Congress’s support was similarly strong, with 69% of the House and 77% of the Senate (including not just Mrs. Clinton but also fellow Democratic presidential candidates John Edwards, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd, along with John Kerry) voting in favor of the war.

Mrs. Clinton now says that if she were president in 2002, she would not have led the country to war. This amounts to an acknowledgment that her vote in favor of the war was not an act of leadership–that she was a follower. Was she following the president? This president? Obviously not. President Bush led the public to support the war, and Sen. Clinton followed the public. Now that public opinion has turned against the president and the war, so has Mrs. Clinton.

Why is this so important? If you care most about being on “the winning side” of public opinion, then you ultimately do not have any principled positions of your own. The ‘opinion’ of the public is quite fickle.

He continues:

So on Iraq, Mrs. Clinton stands resolutely on the side of public opinion, whichever side that may be in any given year. On Iran, about which public opinion is unformed, she is maddeningly noncommittal. This is fine for a senator, who merely casts one vote among 100. But the president–especially in times of international peril–needs to be able to make decisions in the national interest. Sometimes that means shaping public opinion, as President Bush did when he persuaded the public and Congress to support the war in Iraq. Sometimes it means defying public opinion, as Bush has done lately by resisting pressure to flee.

Were these decisions bad ones? History will judge, but at the moment most Americans seem to think so. Mrs. Clinton is seeking to become President Bush’s successor by countering his dangerous boldness with extreme caution. She is presenting herself as the candidate who won’t make bad decisions because she won’t make decisions–who won’t lead us astray because she will not lead.

But an excess of caution is itself a form of recklessness. Someone who won’t make decisions won’t make good or necessary decisions either. Therein lies the peril of a Hillary Clinton presidency.


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It’s quite sad to see just where cheerleading for defeatism can take a country. Today, we even have a newsflash from the Associated Press: Bush: ‘I’m the decision-maker’ on Iraq. You see – it seems that it’s coming as a surprise to many that Bush is actually the Commander in Chief. Hey, I get it — of course Congress controls the purse strings. But it seems that despite many people’s attempts to equate Iraq with Viet Nam, perhaps underfunding the mission may be the only close similarity should they go through with their plan.

But why not question whether being ‘Commander in Chief’ should be effectively taken away from Bush? There have been many reasons to jump on the Depression Express departing from all stations this week. We’ve heard the trumpeting of John Warner’s contention that he has been “misled” by U.S. military commanders on the Iraqi military’s ability to begin taking over security operations. New media drooling over Sen. Chuck Hagel, just because he’s a “Republican” who has renewed his opposition to the military mission in Iraq. And it seems the only ‘bipartisan’ work being done these days in Congress is related to exactly how strong of wording to include in the latest nonbinding resolution saying that they oppose don’t agree with kind of are unfond of a surge in troops.

I understand that most politicians who have risen to the level of national office are animals of instinct. They have a hard-wired urge to try to say what they think people like to hear, rather than to take a principled stand. Trying to ride the next wave of popularity because, like the brutal nature of American Idol, their very job depends on making the largest number of people happy with them. So when it seems that Americans are tired of hearing about Iraq, maybe it’s time to find a way to cover your own tail.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Let’s stipulate for a moment that all Democrats in Congress are against the war and perfectly happy to see the troops removed immediately. (I don’t actually believe this, mind you, but let’s just say that we won’t spend time trying to convince them of anything, because it seems like the most popular position within their base).

But what of the Republicans?

I encourage you run, don’t walk, over to sign the The RNSC Pledge.
(H/T: My Pet Jawa)

It states:

If the United States Senate passes a resolution, non-binding or otherwise, that criticizes the commitment of additional troops to Iraq that General Petraeus has asked for and that the president has pledged, and if the Senate does so after the testimony of General Petraeus on January 23 that such a resolution will be an encouragement to the enemy, I will not contribute to any Republican senator who voted for the resolution. Further, if any Republican senator who votes for such a resolution is a candidate for re-election in 2008, I will not contribute to the National Republican Senatorial Committee unless the Chairman of that Committee, Senator Ensign, commits in writing that none of the funds of the NRSC will go to support the re-election of any senator supporting the non-binding resolution.

I would extend that further… but, let’s say that it’s a good start. Let’s see where that kind of ‘popular vote’ takes us, when stacked up against the ‘opinion polls’ with just 100 respondants.

Let ’em know!

UPDATE: From Senator Johnny Isakson’s Weekly e-mail Newsletter:

The other major event this week in Washington was our debate on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the non-binding Iraq resolution. I opposed this resolution because it sends a dangerous signal at a time when the United States is committed in the global war on terror. The resolution expressed opposition to sending additional troops to Iraq and it passed the committee by a vote of 12 to 9. I offered an amendment to the resolution that stated: “It is not in the national interest of the United States for Congress to cut off funding for members of the Armed Forces deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom or to cap the number of troops available to our military commanders to be deployed to Iraq.” Unfortunately, my amendment failed by a vote of 8 to 13. Resolutions expressing the sense of the Senate are important in what they say, but they are equally important in what they do not say. The unintended consequences and misinterpretations of non-binding resolutions can be disastrous and I could not in good conscience support this wrong-headed agenda.

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What with all of the talk of troop surges in Iraq and the Donald/Rosie tiff and the Ohio State meltdown in the BCS Championship game, you may have missed some very important news on Monday: it seems that Al Sharpton is considering running for President again.

Civil rights activist Al Sharpton said Monday he is seriously considering a run for president. “I don’t hear any reason not to,” Sharpton, 52, said in an interview during an urban affairs conference sponsored by another civil rights leader, the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

“If we’re talking about the urban agenda, can you tell me anybody else in the field who’s representing that right now?” Sharpton asked. “We clearly have a reason to run, and whether we do it or not we’ll see over the next couple of months.”

I agree. There’s no reason for Sharpton *not* to run. Of course he hasn’t got a chance of actually winning the nomination. And it’s not just so that we can hear clever lines like “Right now we’re hearing a lot of media razzle dazzle. I’m not hearing a lot of meat, or a lot of content. I think when the meat hits the fire, we’ll find out if it’s just fat or if there’s some real meat there.”

Back in 2004, he ran a nice short campaign. Didn’t have to break too much of a sweat. But he got to pick up $100K in Presidential Election Campaign Funds (although he later had to agree to repay the amount because his campaign violated the rules about the amount of personal money spent) and even got to address the Democratic National Convention.

Because of his name, he’s also guaranteed to get favorable serious coverage from the mass media. For someone who loves publicity (and gets a chance to raise money from others in order to get more)… he’s right: there’s no reason not to.

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