Ã‚ By ROB KEZELIS
“As a senator from New York, I lived through 9/11 and am still dealing with the aftereffects.”
With these words, Senator Hillary Clinton just changed her justification of supporting the IraqNami invasion. Presumably 9/11 also explains why each time the issue came up, she voted for hundreds of billions more in Iraq war funding.
Before this (January), Hillary admitted that mistakes were made. But she ruined it by qualifying it: Ã¢â‚¬Å“by Mr. Bush.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Before this (late December), Hillary claimed that Ã¢â‚¬Å“Had I known then what I know now, I would not have voted for this war.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Before this, (November), Hillary claimed that she was misled, and that everyone knew that WMD existed in Iraq.
Before this, (last September), Hillary touted her pro-war vote as showing how broadminded and effective she was as senator.
Before this, (midsummer) Hillary had her staff and presidential consultants and campaign advisors craft a long statement to be read to then SecDeaf Rumsfeld. Despite attacking Rummie’s war, and asking hard questions, Hillary ruined the effect by turning away and ignoring his very answers to her questions. Talking and joking with other people is no way to hold a serious conversation when the issue is 3000+ dead, a trillion in wasted money, and 600,000 dead Iraqis.
Her Rummie behavior was a symptom of something we need to consider in other posts. But, her pro-war stance (before reality set in November) is a fact that cannot be spun away, not even by the best campaign consultants. Admitting that Bush made mistakes is like saying the sun shines during the day. What really irks me is her comment about what she knew then compared to now. Misled? By WHOM?
How can we accept politicians who explain away their lack of curiosity, gullibility, and fear of being accused soft on terra by claiming that “the intelligence was deeply flawed” and that they would have acted differently had they known better?
First of all, Hillary, it was your job and your responsibility to know better. There are only 100 of you. You promised to uphold the constitution and protect it from enemies from without and within. At the very time that many smart, experienced and honest voices questioned Bush’s intel, you played it safe and hid in the crowd. Not exactly leadership qualities, eh?
What is worse is that the intel was not flawed, at least not how you want us to believe. The Department of State operated a tiny, underfunded and incredibly accurate intel department. In the run-up to our invasion, they repeatedly raised warning flags over IraqNam. Had you asked, they would have gladly educated you. Hell, they educated others (Feingold, Durbin, Obama and others) in your very chamber. Even the CIA had major problems with the Bush stance and many have said they would have gladly briefed individual senators, if asked. (I emphasize the last two words, Hillary.) They even secretly told Senators that they could not support at least 50% of Bush’s Iraq talking points.
Even your home newspaper, the New York Times (despite the presence of White House Stenographer Judy Miller) managed to get the truth out. We learned that Cheney/Libby created the Office of Special Projects to gather all raw intel and throw away everything that did not support their invasion plans. At that time, Intel officials were making their objections known publicly. (until Porter Goss kicked them out) Even in the backwaters of Chicago, we learned of this long before the first bombs were dropped on Baghdad.
So, what is this month’s excuse? Were you lazy? Incompetant? Afraid of taking a tough stance that might impact your presidential aspirations? Or did your PR team and horde of political consultants recommend that you swing to the right to defang the rabid right, while proving yourself to be conservative on security? I guess that explains your position on flag burning amendments, prayer in school stances and other interesting positions.
What is most scary is her position on any other hot topic. To state it plainly, there is no there there. Perhaps years ago, she had some independent thoughts and ideas. Perhaps, she was once able to think on her own and come up with a plan, good or bad. Perhaps, perhaps. But no longer. Every stance she takes has been weighed, parsed, polled, and edited by a group of so-called beltway consultants that measure and soften her message. They want to affront no one, and end up convincing everyone that it is all show, and no substance. Leadership by polling (and I am not talking about Monica) is what made people dislike Bill, but even he managed to follow his great intellect, instincts and most importantly, he knew when to be spontaneous, even if he was mistaken or in error.
You refuse to allow even the slightest bit of humanity into your quest for the presidency. And in your own way, you are digging your own political grave. It would be one thing to say, Ã¢â‚¬Å“My IraqNami vote was a mistake and I regret it.Ã¢â‚¬Â It is another to pull a George Bushism and refuse to even consider that you were in error.
We are hungry for leaders, Hillary, and with every step you take, you appear more and more like a manufactured, distilled and patched together amalgam of strategists, planners, pollsters and professional consultants. That will be your kiss of death, for we don’t want nor need such leadership any more. The last six years have been bad enough.
Triangulation is like strangulation. It even rhymes. But remember, no how low you go and how much you pander, you will never convince the Religious Reich in this country. And the more you pander, the less that moderates and liberals will trust and support you. And the more you refuse to state the obvious about your IraqNam vote and record, you will end up with nothing but a large corporate-funded campaign chest and little or no support anywhere. Which, looking and your behavior, is probably a very good thing.
(Robert Kezelis is a lawyer, sculptor and writing curmudgeon based south of Chicago.)