Dems won’t commit on ending war

The leading Democratic White House hopefuls conceded Wednesday night they cannot guarantee to pull all U.S. combat troops from Iraq by the end of the next presidential term in 2013.

“I think it’s hard to project four years from now,” said Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois in the opening moments of a campaign debate in the nation’s first primary state.

“It is very difficult to know what we’re going to be inheriting,” added Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

“I cannot make that commitment,” said former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina.

Sensing an opening, Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson provided the assurances the others would not.

“I’ll get the job done,” said Dodd, while Richardson said he would make sure the troops were home by the end of his first year in office.

Foreign policy blended with domestic issues at the debate on a Dartmouth College stage, and several of the contenders endorsed payroll tax increases to assure a stable Social Security system.

Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware and Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, as well as Dodd, Obama and Edwards all said they would apply the tax to income now exempted.

Richardson said he wouldn’t and Clinton refused to say. “I’m not putting anything on the proverbial table” unilaterally, she said.

Current law levies a 6.2 percent payroll tax only on an individual’s first $97,500 in annual income.

Biden also said he was willing to consider gradually raising the retirement age, which is now 67.

Kucinich said that while he favors taxing additional income, he wants to return the retirement age to 65, where it stood until the law was changed in 1983.

Health care, and the drive for universal coverage, also figured in the debate.

“I intend to be the health care president,” said Clinton, adding she can now succeed at an undertaking that defeated her in 1993 when she was first lady.

But Biden said that unnamed special interests were no more willing to work with Clinton now than they were more than a decade ago.

“I’m not suggesting it’s Hillary’s fault…It’s reality,” he said, carefully avoiding a personal attack on the Democrat who leads in the polls.

Biden said a “lot of old stuff comes back” from past battles, adding, “when I say old stuff I mean policy. Policy.”

Across the stage, Clinton smiled at that.

The moment was not the only one in which attention turned to the former first lady, a campaign front-runner bidding to become the first woman president.

Asked whether presidential libraries and foundations should disclose their donors, she said she had sponsored legislation requiring it. Asked whether her husband’s foundation should voluntary disclose, absent a requirement, she said, “you’ll have to ask them.”

“I don’t talk about my private conversations with my husband,” she added.

She seemed to suggest differently at another point, after being asked whether she would ever approve torturing a suspected terrorist to prevent the detonation of a big bomb.

She said no, and Russert said former President Clinton, her husband, once suggested it might be appropriate.

“Well, he’s not standing here right now,” she said, an edge in her voice.

There is a disagreement, Russert rejoined.

“Well, I’ll talk to him later,” she said with a smile.

A question about lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18 drew a cheer from the students listening in the Dartmouth auditorium.

And expressions of support only from former Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska and Kucinich.

The opening question of the two-hour debate instantly plunged the eight contenders into the issue that has dominated all others — the war in Iraq.

With the primary season approaching, all eight have vied with increasing intensity for the support of anti-war voters likely to provide money and organizing muscle as the campaign progresses.

Edwards said his position on Iraq was different from Obama and Clinton, adding he would “immediately drawn down 40,000 to 50,000 troops.” That’s roughly half the 100,000 that Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, has indicated could be stationed there when President Bush’s term ends in January 2009.

Edwards sought to draw a distinction between his position and Clinton’s, saying she had said recently she wants to continue combat missions in Iraq.

“I do not want to continue combat missions in Iraq,” he said.

Clinton responded quickly, saying Edwards had misstated her position. She said she favors the continued deployment of counterterrorism troops, not forces to engage in the type of combat now under way.

Asked whether they were prepared to use force to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power, several of the hopefuls sidestepped. Instead, they said, all diplomacy must be exhausted in the effort.

Moderator Tim Russert of NBC News asked about Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani’s pledge to set back Iran by eight to 10 years if it tries to gain nuclear standing.

Biden flashed anger at the mention of the former New York mayor. “Rudy Giuliani doesn’t know what the heck he’s talking about,” said Delaware senator, who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“He’s the most uninformed person on foreign policy that’s now running for president.”

The debate unfolded in the state that has held the first presidential primary in every campaign for generations.

The contest is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 22, but that is expected to change as other states maneuver for early voting position in the campaign calendar.

The debate was broadcast on MSNBC, New Hampshire Public Radio and New England Cable News.

Comments

  1. Bill Robinson

    Well, I agree with most of what Seal had to say (Good Grief, I agree with an ex-military guy! How strange!!!) but I believe that everyone is missing the point. The Republicans are the ones who got us into this war, in case anyone forgot. Both parties are responsible for keeping us in Iraq, and the Democratic Candidates offer no respite and no withdrawl.

    The real reason that all the new candidates will not give a date for withdrawl from Iraq is one simple thing–MONEY. The person elected to either the Executive or Legislative office is given a virtual license to steal amap (as much as possible) while in office. The only way we could stop this is to elect people who are filthy rich and do not want more money–JFK was a perfect example of this as was his brother Robert Kennedy.

    I travel and live a lot of the time in Asia, particularly Southeast Asia and China. We are losing the important war–the economic war–much more rapidly than anyone would acknowledge. China will be the world leader in maybe 5, certainly 10 years. They will do it without firing one shot, just by destroying and dominating us economically. If people cannot see that happening now, if our government leaders do not do something to stop this marching army of cheap prices for quality goods, or ‘good-enough’ quality with cheap prices, we will fall and fall hard.

    Sinking so many billions into a war that profits the elected officials of both this country and Iraq is plain stupid. Those tribes that make up the people of Iraq do not want democracy as we idealize it, they want dominance. We can stay for 30 years and the moment we leave the inter-tribal warfare will resume. I’m no genius, so why can’t our allegedly intellegent politicans see what is happening and do something to stop it? Becaause they are making too much money.

    It’s all about the money…it always has been.
    One three year term for all elected and judicial officers. Vote em in and boot em out.
    Bill Robinson

  2. SEAL

    Bat: thanks for the link. Naomi has put together a long detailed explanation of how we got to the point most of us who post here already know we are – Corporate Rule. The problem is that it is not on TV, it’s a book. Nobody (who needs to) reads anymore.

    The american public gets their information from only two sources now-a-days. TV and the Internet and those are two distinctly different classes of people. The first are the do-do bird Wallmart shoppers and the second are the ones with intellectual curiosity. Unfortunately, the first is still much greater in number than the second. Primarily because the Internet requires reading.

    Klein’s amazing work will have very little impact unless they can figure out a way to get it on Cable TV as a movie with an all star cast or a documentry that the do-do birds will click on after they get bored with re-runs of Rambo 8, Rocky 12, and Mission Impossible 6.

  3. Citroyen

    Kucinich wants to end the war immediately and has a clear plan to do it.
    Richardson and Gravel are also on the right side of this issue.

    So who do we have to focus on?
    Obama, Clinton and Edwards.
    Three losers.

    This is why “liberal” has become a dirty word.
    It has come to mean “standing for nothing”.

  4. Klaus Hergeschimmer

    I’m voting Kucinich in the Primaries and should he miraculously be nominated I’ll vote for him in the presidential election -but I will never vote for any other Demo-Scheister in the presdential election.

  5. ekaton

    The MSM press is owned by five conglomerates. They have already selected Hillary. She will be as much of a warmonger and globalist as any of the Republicans. They push Hillary, Obama, and Edwards, assuming the ticket will be her and one of the others. There is nothing fair or balanced about any of it. If Kucinich could get his message out it would resonate with at least 70% of the population. This country is being spent into oblivion using borrowed money for the sake of war profiteering. There will be no “legal” or “political” way to end it. There will be days of enormous violence in this country perpetrated from within or without. It will take violence on the part of the population to take this country back from the fascists, OR this country will get a goddamn good asskicking eventually when the rest of the world finally gets pissed enough to attack. That will lead to nuclear war and the end of civilization, such as it is. We now live in a fascist police state. Some people will eventually get pissed enough to hit back. Things are going to get really interesting.

    — Kent Shaw

  6. ekaton

    If hell freezes over and Kucinich is the nominee then I will vote for him. He is the ONLY candidate from either major party I will consider. If its Hillary I simply won’t vote, or I’ll waste a vote on a third party candidate. The lesser of two evils is still evil.

    — Kent Shaw

  7. Helen Rainier

    Kent,

    Quick question: What are the five conglomerates that own the MSM?

    I’m interested in knowing their names.

    Thx!

    P.S. A link will be just great.

  8. LurkingFromTheLeft

    The word is…

    …CORRECT –

    …not ‘right’ –

    …The RIGHT is what got us there in the first place –

    LFTL

  9. Bluesman2007

    Based on what we’ve seen so far, the choice between a democratic candidate and a republican candidate is the same as a choice between lung cancer and prostate cancer.

    I guess the only alternative is a huge grassroots campaign for a strong independent candidate – one who truly represents the people and not the dollar. That’s the only alternative I can see. I wouldn’t trust any of them as far as I could throw them. I don’t think Kucinich has a chance but of course I’d vote for him in a New York minute if he was nominated. But this all goes back to my basic premise – i.e. the country does NOT really want what it says it wants otherwise it would DEMAND IT!

    Perhaps I’ll run that suggestion by MoveOn.org. Maybe it’ll catch on. Let the public finance the campaign with no donations over $10.00 per person and no donations acceptable from ANY business large or small. The current democratic party is the biggest disappointment of the decade. It’s shameful.

  10. SEAL

    OK Blusman, see if you can get MoveOn to endorse Kucinich and propose that he run as an independent after the conventions. He should be eligible for the 5 million in public funds (if he hasn’t already taken it). They could urge everyone to send in money for the campaign. We could all contact the many other organizations and web forums like CHB and campaign them to get on the band wagon.

    In other words try to inspire and organize an Internet party behind the only presidential candidate worth a crap. With enough support and donations the campaign would break out into the MSM advertising. The more MSM exposure Dennis Kucinich gets the more the geneal public outside the Internet world will like him because of what he says.

    I have been thinking about this for quite a while wondering just how much political power the Internet really has achieved. The religious right used it quite effectively among their people during the last election to inspire voter donation and turnout. However, they were working primarily from provided lists from the church groups. They weren’t “advertising,” per se.

    My obsevations tell me that the great majority of Internet users are left wing and progressive. I believe what they need is someone to rally behind and push. Someone they can be inspired by and believe in. That means Dennis would have to commit to it and make an appeal to the Internet to support him. That would be his initial campaign. The obvious thing is very few of the web forums could come out as supporting him, at least, not initially. But that isn’t necessary. It could be accomplished simply by utilizing the Internet as it exists.

    If Kucinich announces his Internet campaign for president, it becomes news and should be reported by all the comment forums and bloggers. That costs nothing. Dennis could respond to many of the comments. That costs nothing. A few voluteers could run most of that. “Kucinich’s position on that is…”

    Someone is going to have to approach him with the idea and sell it to him. I have no idea who that could be but, surely, someone on the Internet does.

    Anyway, it’s an Idea. Anyone have any thoughts about it?

  11. Klaus Hergeschimmer

    I like your idea a lot Seal, And yes, as you said if we all as individuals contacted organizations, web forums & anything else you can imagine, and worked at consciousness-raising a stream of thought about Kucinich running as an Independent for the presidency, it would indeed be a very worthwhile endeavor.

    If Kucinich paired up with someone with good progressive credentials who is Independent or willing to turn Indpendent to be Kucinich’s VP, that could be a powerfull draw; by that I mean a lot of Kucinich’s followers would very likely ditch being a Dem & become Independent.