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.


  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


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

    I’m interested in knowing their names.


    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 –


  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 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.

  12. Helen Rainier

    This is very disheartening and discouraging. I did not watch this debate but have been watching coverage of it on a morning news show the day after.

    On the assumption that no matter which party gains control of the Presidency in the next election, what are the options and course/s of action to be taken then?

    There are some major issues that will need to be addressed and very quickly. As I see it, those issues are, at a minimum:

    1. The economic cost of this illegal and immoral war is catastrophic. We are already in debt up to our eyeballs and the majority of that debt is held by countries which means if we are unable to pay up when the time comes, the US will be beholden to them.

    Tax cuts that were enacted by the Bushies will have to be rolled back. We simply cannot afford to keep paying for this war with a credit card. That is the bottom line. Those corporations who are benefitting to the tune of outrageous “war profiteering” should be paying windfall war profits taxes.

    “No-bid” contracts will need to be eliminated. Whatever services the military branches were handling in-house prior to the privatization of those services (transportation, messing, etc.). The fact is that the private contractors are overcharging and pillaging the national treasury and quite simply aren’t able to do the jobs they said they can do — Halliburton/KBR, for starters. Return these missions to the military. The military needs to have services they can rely on.

    Get rid of the “security” firms like Blackwater and replace those with military units designed to do those missions.

    2. Manpower and staffing of the military. We simply will be unable to sustain these levels of operations. If, in fact, this “war” is as important as the neocons assert, then we must reinstate the military draft. No pain, no gain. If this war is so critical, then all people of legal military age must be made to participate in it. No exceptions and no deferments. This is what Rep. Rangel wanted to do several years ago. I advocate this position, distasteful as it is.

    The Bushies have continually likened this war to that of WW II (although there are no valid grounds for comparison). We had a draft/mandatory service for WW II. We had a draft for Vietnam. It is time to do so again. Our government simply can’t be allowed to continue destroying our military families because they want perpetual war. It is morally and ethically wrong.

    3. All civilian “experts” should be banned from providing input on strategy and/or tactics — specifically neocons who have no practical experience. The only “experts” whose advice should be considered on war policy should be the military experts who have been trained in it and the official government agencies who are supposed to be providing accurate and complete intelligence.

    No Kristols, no Kagans, no AEI, no AIPAC. They must be removed from the equation completely.

    4. If this faux-war is to remain a fact of life that we will have to live with for any period of time beyond the next 4 years, then we must, as a country, make a full commitment to it and not a half-assed one — as we have seen thus far. The policy/policies of the Bushies have clearly been myopic and certainly not strategical.

    5. One other thing, we must immediately begin engaging in good faith diplomacy to seek political and humanitarian resolutions to ending this. If we (the US government) has to swallow its pride and say we screwed up big time, so be it.

    This is the least our government owes us, the Iraqis, and the rest of the world community at this point. We MUST DEMAND IT.

  13. ekaton

    “The economic cost of this illegal and immoral war is catastrophic.”

    You are the master of understatement.

    If Americans would just WAKE UP maybe we could organize a national strike.

    “We simply cannot afford to keep paying for this war with a credit card.”

    It surreal. We borrow money from COMMUNIST RED CHINA for these wars. So much for stopping the spread of communism. The Chinese are going to own this country lock, stock and barrel without firing a shot. I think they must have read Sun Tzu.

    “No-bid contracts will need to be eliminated.”

    Every one of these constitutes a felony.

    “If, in fact, this “war” is as important as the neocons assert, then we must reinstate the military draft.”

    I absolutely DESPISE the draft, but it is the only way to wake up Americans, to wake up college students.

    — Kent Shaw


    Campaign promises might as well be written on water as far as I am concerned.

    The candidates dont know if they will have a (R) or a (D) majority, how could they possibly promise to withdarw troops without knowing if they would have enough support to do so in the House and Senate?

    Its a politically strategic move on their part b/c if they dont get the troops out then it will look like they reneged on a campaign promise.

    Dodd and Richardson are long shots so they can afford to go out on a limb.

  15. LurkingFromTheLeft

    Richardson has been saying this…

    …for quite a while now – actually, I think I recall someone even posting a link to what he wrote –

    …I just want to stop the HRC Express – I might have to head to Canada to dodge her –


  16. Pablo

    “Dems won’t commit to ending war”
    Sounds VERY misleading to me. The article only covers the corporate-press-sponsored ‘front runners’, who we know won’t end the war, nothing new. Either Kucinich and Gravel weren’t allowed to speak at the debate or this writer is ignoring them as the mainstream press always does. The author (Shame on you!) pretends that warmonger Hillary, Obama and Edwards were the only candidates up there talking about the war. Kucinich and Gravel up to now have both advocated ending this war NOW, so the headline is false. This is just another example of how the press ignores the only valid candidates. They are ignored because they don’t follow the corporate agenda. Mainstream, cynical articles like this make us feel hopeless, but the truth of the matter is there are two candidates out there who would end the war immediately, Kucinich and Gravel.

  17. justanothercoverup

    No matter how you choose to spin it, the Democrats, led by Nancy Pelosi, have betrayed America. When Wolf Blitzer interviewed Nancy Pelosi, we saw an arrogant, petulant Pelosi attempting to show how the Democrats were “holding this administration accountable” – while allowing Bush and Cheney to continue their illegal war of profit and greed. It’s sad and too long to address in this post, but for all practical purposes, democracy and the American way of life are dead and stinking!

    The Democrats, Led by Nancy Pelosi, Have Betrayed America

    William Cormier

  18. ekaton

    Nancy Pelosi is a member of the billionaire’s club. She and her husband own billions in real estate around San Francisco. Why is she even a member of the Democratic Party? She is a member of “the club”. Do not expect anything from her that will benefit the country at large. She supports her billionaire republican constituency most efficiently.

    — Kent Shaw

  19. SEAL

    I really miss Harry Truman. His answer would have been – “You should know better than to ask me a dumb question like that. There are no guarantees about anything in the future. Bush has 16 more months in office and who knows what he will do during that time? Considering his record and the inability of congress to control him so far, there is no telling what kind of a mess he will hand over to me. All I can promise is that I will do everything within my power that makes good sense to bring the war to the earliest possible conclusion.”

    I watch these front runner candidates and wonder if they actually have any control over what they say. Their answers to every question sound like they came out of “Popiel’s Pocket President Primary Plugger.” Almost every answer will fit on a bumper sticker. Designer answers created by committee. Defensive answers – don’t say anything wrong. You know you aren’t hearing their true thoughts.

    On the rare occassion they are asked a question that has not been anticipated they stumble and fumble and look stupid out of fear of saying the wrong thing. None of them have the skills of a John Kennedy or a Bill Clinton to appear relaxed and spontaneous. You don’t feel comfortable with any of them. It’s not a person, it’s a package. The bow isn’t tied right but go ahead and take it and read the card, “do not open ’til Xmas 2008.” That’s when you’ll find out what you got.

    The also rans are different. The only chance they have is to be open and honest or to make promises they know people want to hear regardless of how impossible they would be to keep. But they are only there for the illusion of democracy and to fragment the vote so that there will be no real organized opposition to the preselected candidate. The DNC knows Hillary is not the majority choice. But by spreading the votes among several the DNC makes it possible for Hillary to win a states convention electoral votes with only 30-40%. It is a stupid system that makes it possible for a person to be elected when over 60% of the voters don’t want them. The voters continue to fall for the game and cast their votes “for” their guy not realizing they are actually voting “for” (in this case, Hillary) the one to which they are most opposed. If all those no chance votes were transferred to one other strong candidate, Hillary could be defeated. The concept is voting to defeat Hillary rather than voting for the one I love.

    The corporate powers in the democratic party have always selected the most unelectable candidates because they are the corporate whore. They are preparing to do it again. But, of the three front runners, Hillary is the most vulnerable to defeat. She is the one the repugnants want to run against. Either of the other two would be much better. But they are not whores to the corporate power.

    Back in the 60’s the people were inspired by the most exciting candidate ever and overcame the DNC by getting their act together to agressively support John Kennedy against the corporate DNC selection, Lyndon Johnson. They won. However, the corporate power forced them to accept Johnson as Vice president to take over when Kennedy died. Three years later a bullet won it for them anyway and off we went to another cash cow war.

    Unfortunately, we don’t have that exciting candidate this time to inspire the voters to action. Consequently, we will have no choice but to accept Hillary Clinton. American history will be made with the first woman president and the Iraq occupation will continue indefinately while she creates her legacy as the health care president.

    Unless the people wake up and get involved I estimate that America will die in 4-8 years.

  20. bjiller

    The Democrats are sacrificing our soldiers’ lives for political gain. I predicted this the moment they took over Congress. They have the power to shut this war down, but won’t do it until after the 2008 elections. They won’t have as much blood on their hands as Bush and company, but they have forfeited the moral highground. Again.

    High populorum; low populorum, as Huey Long said.

    And the Dems will still be bashed for being soft on security and “aiding and abetting” terrorists. Not one current Democratic leader has the principles to state the obvious truth: Iraq makes us less secure in every way, unless we are willing to go in with massive force and engage in our own holocaust to terrorize the Iraqis into submission. Since the American people are not willing to support that type of “commitment,” this is a doomed war, and the sooner we get out the better. A majority of the American people know this, but the Dems don’t have the courage and/or principles to act on it.

  21. Gerald Sutliff

    I can’t help noting that Blue used the same headline as did my town’s local rag. It’s a mystery to me that even though something like 70 percent of Americans think invading Iraq was a mistake Bill Richardson and Mike Garvel can’t get a bounce by promising to bring the troops out immediately.

  22. Klaus Hergeschimmer

    Hey Kent, Pelosi formerly represented me in California (I’m Independent) and I hate her guts, she’s crossed the line as have the overwhelming amount of ScheisterKrats. The whole lot of
    the Turncoat-Krats are full of crap like Christmas Turkeys.

    MoveOn’s job is now to expose & humiliate the Democrats and its traitorous edorsement of the occupation.

    When a Democrat says they just want to leave enough troops to protect American Assets, they mean the McSuper Embassy, they mean the 14 or how many it is permanent military bases in Iraq, especially the one right near to the Iranian border.

    As I often like to site this example, Thomas Friedman who was gung ho for the Iraq occupation says it is a fantasy that any American military force level below half of what is currently in there will be adequate to defend itself & the ‘assets’; the troops will not be safe in a country that is continually in anarchy. There is nothing going on in Iraq to provide security for the Iraqi people; Electricity generation is at pre-war levels, non-existent clean drinking water responsible for a cholera epidemic that’s spreading; oil production is at pre-war levels.

    Jeez-Lou-Ezz…and the Democrats are ‘Up Periscope’for more disastorous episodes to come, and don’t give a shit about our troops getting killed, and the war itself bankrupting this country to potentially Weimarian levels (Mr. Nemo -Weimarian is such an appropriate term that you applied to whatz going down with our country going down right now).

    Democratic Senators and Congressmembers, my message to you as always is: “Screw You Traitors and the Jack-Ass you Rode in on” (or fell off of)