Joe Wilson’s Defense of Hillary Clinton’s Iran Position


Joe Wilson has penned an interesting essay at Huffington Post defending Hillary Clinton’s complex stand on Iran and challenging Obama with some soft gloves.
In one section of the piece, Wilson writes:

As one who practiced diplomacy on behalf of our country for decades, including as the acting ambassador in Iraq during Desert Shield, where I personally confronted Saddam Hussein and his henchmen, Senator Obama’s approach seems to me to misunderstand diplomacy. Needless to say, profound distrust of Bush and the administration is more than merited. I yield to nobody in my own efforts to bring their lies to public attention. But the Durbin version of Kyl-Lieberman and the November 1 letter are clear in drawing lines in not granting the Bush administration authority it does not have.
The administration has rightly been criticized for its refusal to use the broad array of tools at our disposal other than military action in the conduct of national security. War has been its first, second and final option — its preferred option — with disastrous results. Successful policy-making requires the use of complex diplomacy, carrots and sticks — incentives, such as structured talks, and disincentives, such as sanctions against rogue elements. Coping with the Bush administration should not cause us to ignore at our peril very real adversaries that would do us harm. These clearly include Iran and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

I have a few reactions.
First and foremost, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Harry Reid, Richard Durbin, James Webb, and the rest would do the country a great favor by actually ‘passing’ the Webb-introduced legislation barring monies spent on military action against Iran without explicit Senate consent. A resolution that languishes in the Senate that has Hillary’s co-sponsorship but that has not benefited from her ascending political weight does not change the political facts as they are now.
Joe Wilson is correct to note that Hillary Clinton, Durbin, and others have made statements that their support of Kyl-Lieberman do not, in their parochial view, authorize the Bush administration to take military action against Iran.
However, that’s not the point. The problem is that the Bush administration exploits opportunities that the Congress gives. The administration manipulates, obfuscates, distorts, seduces, and deceives when it comes to rationalizing controversial actions it wants to take. If the Bush adminstration does bomb Iran, it won’t be much help that Durbin and Clinton will hit the airwaves then to accuse the administration of foul play.
30 signatories on a letter to Bush are not enough. The Dems control the Senate and the House. It is time that they won something big in the national security sphere. Senator Hagel is a good trade-off with the war-hugging Joe Lieberman. Make a statement of Senate intent with a majority.
Lastly, I think Hillary Clinton is sincere in her view that designating the IRGC a terrorist entity helps diplomacy. I disagree — but I get her point. She needs to know that the IRGC, however, is not a small entity within the Iranian military. It essentially is Iran’s military — the former veneer of which is inconsequential today in military or security matters as the IRGC has hollowed Iran’s army out.
But while I can agree to disagree with Clinton’s intent on the IRGC, I’m surprised that she doesn’t see the imbalance in her actions. She tends to always tilt towards the military edge of diplomacy, the get-tough edge.
Why not draft a resolution that suggests the outline of what the Iranians suggested to us in 2003 — which was recently profiled in Esquire Magazine‘s profile of Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann? Why not draft a resolution promising an end to regime change policies if Iran took some some kind of constructive steps. Why not draft letters and resolutions that show the Iranian people some constructive face and an outreached hand if they move their government forward — rather than relying on tactics that primarily bully and humiliate?
Hillary Clinton is looking more and more like the Democratic nominee — and it is important that she think this imbalance through. It’s not enough to rest on either a Kyl-Lieberman vote or a withering Webb resolution. She has a huge Senate staff and campaign staff that should be drafting the legislative outlines for a bigger picture approach — if in fact it is the full spectrum of diplomacy with that she really supports.
I hope (and sort of think) she does.

— Steve Clemons


23 comments on “Joe Wilson’s Defense of Hillary Clinton’s Iran Position

  1. Dan Kervick says:

    Steve, you write:
    “A resolution that languishes in the Senate that has Hillary’s co-sponsorship but that has not benefited from her ascending political weight does not change the political facts as they are now.”
    Could we *please* restore some old-fashioned decorum here? Use of “Hillary” in serious work reflects a gender based double-standard. Serious commentators never say “Barack”, “John”, “Joe”, “Chris”, “Harry”, “Dick” or “Jim”, do they? What happened to “Clinton” or “Senator Clinton”?
    The Clinton campaign has promoted the use of “Hillary”, because they would like to cultivate the same atmosphere of People Magazine and tabloid first-name celebrity familiarity that attends “Oprah”, “Rosie”, “Julia” and “Ellen”. But must our more serious commentators fall for this sales job?


  2. pkoso says:

    Chesire11…thanks for your comment re: Clinton and Dean in ’04. This isn’t over by any means… and the last thing we need is a coronation before balloting.


  3. pauline says:

    Bush and Musharraf’s grand illusion
    Democracy for Pakistan was never the deal — and as Musharraf’s latest power grab throws his nation into turmoil, Bush will gladly go along.
    By Juan Cole
    Nov. 06, 2007 | In the fall of 1999, as he campaigned for the presidency, George W. Bush was asked by a reporter to name the leader of Pakistan. Bush could not. He famously replied: “The new Pakistani general, he’s just been elected — not elected, this guy took over office. It appears this guy is going to bring stability to the country, and I think that’s good news for the subcontinent.” Although Bush didn’t know Gen. Pervez Musharraf’s name and was confused as to how he got into office, the soon-to-be American president was sanguine about the anti-democratic developments in Pakistan.
    More than seven years later, Bush’s illusions about Musharraf — and any illusion of democracy in Pakistan — have been shattered by the dictator’s declaration of a state of emergency. Tantamount to a coup, Musharraf’s actions on Saturday have not only thrown Pakistan into turmoil but have also revealed the hypocrisy of Bush’s foreign policy, including the proclaimed goal of fostering freedom and the rule of law in the Muslim world.
    At a press conference on Monday, Bush said of the weekend coup, “We expect there to be elections as soon as possible.” But while Bush admitted that Musharraf’s actions would “undermine democracy,” he insisted that the general is “a strong fighter” in the war on terror. That dual message was accompanied by the American president tepidly declining to say what he would do if Musharraf did not move toward elections. Also revealing was the fact that Bush had sent the weakest member of his team, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, out to warn Musharraf against the coup, indicating how little he was in reality worried about it. If he had been deeply anxious, he would have called the general himself. Many observers are viewing Musharraf’s coup as a major setback for Bush’s policy, but in fact it changes almost nothing.
    Although the United States has given some $11 billion to Pakistan (mostly in military aid) since 2001, Bush needs Musharraf more than Musharraf needs the United States. The war in Afghanistan is a key reason: A major proportion of the war materiel for the 20,000 U.S. troops, and additional 20,000 NATO troops, in Afghanistan (a landlocked country) goes through Pakistan. U.S., British and Canadian troops on the front lines fighting a Taliban resurgence could be endangered if Pakistan were to cut off the flow of those supplies. On Monday, Rice appeared to back off from earlier warnings to Pakistan that a coup would jeopardize U.S. aid, saying that she doubted cooperation on the war on terror would be affected by Musharraf’s actions.
    Musharraf, who was brought up in part in Turkey and is representative of the secular stratum of Pakistan’s middle class, is the Bush administration’s ideal ally. They point to his successes: Musharraf has moved a lot of fundamentalist officers out of positions of power, removing them from any authority over the country’s stockpile of nuclear bombs. Under his rule, Pakistani military intelligence has captured nearly 700 al-Qaida operatives in that country, including high-value figures such as Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks. And Pakistani cooperation was key in breaking up a plot in summer 2006 by Britons of Pakistani heritage to blow up airplanes flying from London to New York.
    But the 1999 interview revealed Bush’s true stripes regarding the Pakistani dictator, and his knee-jerk support for authoritarianism over democracy. Bush was criticized then for applauding the overthrow of the democratically elected Nawaz Sharif government in the Oct. 12, 1999, military coup. His spokesperson at the time, Karen Hughes, said that Bush was encouraged by Musharraf’s promise that he would hold early elections, restore “stability” to Pakistan, and ease tensions between India and Pakistan. (In fact, Musharraf had been a notorious hawk on India and may in part have carried out the coup because he saw his civilian predecessor as too dovish toward New Delhi.) What the world did not then know was that President Bill Clinton had negotiated a deal not long before with Prime Minister Sharif whereby Pakistan would deploy special operations troops to capture Osama bin Laden. When Musharraf took power in fall of 1999, he refused to honor the deal, since the operation was unpopular with the military’s fundamentalist officers. Indeed, Bush was supporting a man who derailed the best chance the Clinton administration may have had to prevent Sept. 11.
    Bush went on, of course, to talk a good game as president about democratizing the Middle East, but that never appears to have been more than a cover story for his projection of American power into the region. And now he is standing by Musharraf as the latter dismantles the fa�ade of civil society institutions in Pakistan.
    Two crises pushed Musharraf to act. The first was an increasingly assertive Supreme Court, which successfully fought back against the general’s attempt to dismiss its chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, last spring. The Supreme Court appears to have been planning to declare Musharraf ineligible to hold the post of president, to which he was recently reelected by Parliament.
    The second major crisis was the conflict between Musharraf and Muslim radicals. The United States had pressured him to crack down on the Muslim hard-liners of the northern tribal areas, who the United States alleges gave haven to al-Qaida operatives and protected training camps used to prepare terrorists to strike the West. But the vast, rugged territory had defeated the British Empire’s attempts to secure it, and Musharraf was not making better progress. In September 2006, he concluded an accord with the chieftains of the tribal areas, which some saw as a capitulation to the radicals. In spring and summer of 2007, Musharraf was faced with an insurgency in Islamabad’s Red Mosque complex, which he crushed with some brutality in July. Although the militants were not popular in most of the country outside the Northwest Frontier Province, where many of the madrassas, or Muslim seminaries, are located that produced the Taliban, no one liked seeing a mosque invaded and seminarians killed (even if the latter were armed and dangerous).
    The twin crises reduced Musharraf’s legitimacy in Pakistani society to something near zero, and Washington swung into action. Rice called Musharraf repeatedly this summer, urging him to allow exiled former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto — dismissed for corruption at the end of both of her previous terms (1988-1990 and 1993-1996) — to return to the country. As a secularist who opposes the Muslim extremists, Bhutto could have hoped to shore up the legitimacy of Musharraf’s efforts against them. As the leader of the popular Pakistan People’s Party, she has substantial grassroots support. The general eventually acquiesced, and Bhutto returned on Oct. 18, though the massive bombing that greeted her arrival at Karachi brought into question whether she could restore stability.
    For the Bush administration to whitewash authoritarian rule as a promise of democracy in Pakistan is nothing new. After Sept. 11, then Secretary of State Colin Powell used a mixture of threats and pledges of aid to force Musharraf to turn on the Taliban in Afghanistan, which had been a pet project of the Pakistani military. In January 2002, Musharraf banned a number of militant Muslim groups whose members had been trained in the Taliban terrorist camps that also produced the Sept. 11 hijackers. America’s new ally could hardly show his true face as a mere military dictator, so on April 30, 2002, Musharraf held a referendum on whether he should become “president.” Since he was not running against any rival, it was impossible for him to lose this referendum, and voter turnout was low. Bush remained silent about the charade, and a low-level state department official declared it an “internal Pakistani matter.”
    In fall 2002, Musharraf held stage-managed parliamentary elections, in which he interfered heavy-handedly in the campaigning. He was attempting to throw the election to the only civilian party that supported him, the Pakistan Muslim League Qaid-e Azam (PML-Q), called in Pakistan “the king’s party.” In fact, Musharraf’s maneuvering could not give the PML-Q a majority, since the Pakistan People’s Party of the then-exiled Bhutto and the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) of deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif showed some resilience.
    What Musharraf’s interference did accomplish was to give an opening in the Northwest Frontier Province and Baluchistan for a six-party fundamentalist Muslim coalition, the Islamic Action Council, to take power. The key components of the Islamic Action Council included the Jamaat-i Islami, led by Qazi Hussain Ahmad, and the Clerical Association of Islam of cleric Fazlur Rahman — who had trained many of the Taliban leaders. The council also took about a fifth of the seats in the national Parliament, an almost unprecedented good showing, since most often the fundamentalist parties got less than 3 percent in Pakistani elections. American pundits ill-informed about Pakistan are tempted to support dictators such as Musharraf because they distrust the Pakistani electorate. But when allowed to participate in relatively free elections, Pakistani voters have usually backed moderate leaders and ignored the fundamentalists.
    Musharraf’s latest seizure of power shows that little has changed in Pakistan since October 1999. Through thick and thin, Bush has stood by “the general” in Islamabad whose name he at first could not remember, the guarantor of “stability.” It is predictable that Washington will go on supporting the dictator, even though Musharraf’s doffing of the faux trappings of democracy in Pakistan has pushed the press corps to pose sharper questions than normal to Bush about this apparent hypocrisy.
    But Pakistan’s military is the linchpin of Bush’s policies in Afghanistan and in the no-man’s land of tribal Pakistan. Faced with choosing between an ignominious rout in the region from which the Sept. 11 plot was launched, and perhaps even the fall of the Kabul government to a resurgent Taliban, or otherwise having to suffer criticism for hypocritically backing a military dictatorship, Bush will mouth some polite phrases about the prospect of elections in the future (as he did in 1999), and go on providing for Islamabad’s military machine. Aside from the cancellation of some ineffectual debates in a weak Pakistani Parliament — and the end of the illusion that any vestiges of democracy remain — nothing will change.


  4. pauline says:

    Hitting the Mute Button on the Freedom Agenda
    By Dana Milbank
    Tuesday, November 6, 2007; A02
    Just last Thursday, President Bush spoke of his Freedom Agenda spreading democracy across the globe: “We are standing with those who yearn for liberty.”
    Yesterday, the Bush administration unveiled a pragmatic new foreign policy: The Stand by Your Man Agenda.
    In the intervening period, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, a U.S. ally, had suspended his country’s constitution, arrested Supreme Court judges, closed media outlets, and beat or imprisoned demonstrators by the hundreds — using some of his billions of dollars in American military aid to impose martial law.
    Bush’s Freedom Agenda frowns upon these activities — and yet Bush and his aides acted yesterday as if Musharraf had made an illegal right on red, or perhaps parked in a handicapped space.
    “What we think we ought to be doing is using our various forms of influence at this point in time to help a friend, who we think has done something ill-advised,” one of Bush’s top aides declared from the podium in the White House briefing room.
    “The question is, what do you do when someone makes a mistake that is a close ally?” the official argued. “The president’s guidance to us is see if we can work with them to get back on track.”
    So would there be consequences for Musharraf’s misbehavior? “That’s going to depend heavily on what we hear, obviously, from the Pakistani government,” he said, making sure to add: “And that is not a threat in any way.”
    It didn’t even rise to a diplomatic slap on the wrist — and Bush aides must have realized this was not something to be proud of. Before the official briefed reporters from behind the microphone, an aide removed the oval White House seal from the lectern. And the White House ordered that the official, though he has appeared on the Sunday television talk shows, speak anonymously.
    “Can we make it on the record?” the Associated Press’s Terry Hunt asked at the start of the briefing.
    “No,” replied White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe. “The president has spoken on the record.”
    Indeed he had — no more forcefully than Mr. Anonymous.
    “With respect to Pakistan, it is also our desire to see a return to democracy in the shortest time possible,” Bush announced in the Oval Office. “I hope now that he hurry back to elections,” he added.
    And what happens if Musharraf ignores Bush’s hopes and desires? “Hypothetical question,” Bush replied.
    Did Bush misjudge Musharraf? No answer.
    It has been a humbling few days for the administration and its attempts to exercise American power. Last week, Bush aides begged Musharraf not to suspend the constitution — and he ignored them. Similarly, Bush met in the Oval Office yesterday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, urging him not to send troops into Iraq to fight Kurdish militants — and Erdogan evidently gave him no commitment.
    “In an environment where international support and cooperation does not exist, Turkey, quite naturally, will exercise its own right to protect itself and its people against terrorism,” the prime minister, echoing some of Bush’s own “war on terror” language, told the National Press Club after his meeting with the president.
    The defiance by Musharraf and, to a lesser extent, Erdogan, left Bush and his aides sounding like representatives of a pitiful giant.
    “We made it clear to [Musharraf] that we would hope he wouldn’t have declared the emergency powers he declared,” said Bush.
    White House press secretary Dana Perino voiced her “hope” that Pakistan will proceed with elections.
    And Mr. Anonymous mentioned his hopes eight times in his 40 minutes with reporters. “We hope that we’ll get some clarification on the intentions of the government in the next few days. . . . We are hopeful that we will see some clarification. . . . We hope they will do that.”
    Missing were the serious diplomatic words such as “outrageous” and “unacceptable.” In their place were gentle sentiments such as “unfortunate” and “disappointed” and, two dozen times, “concern.” The concern was so slight, though, that the official admitted that Bush hadn’t even spoken directly with Musharraf.
    Elaine Quijano of CNN asked about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s charge that Bush had sacrificed democracy for Musharraf’s help against terrorists.
    The official replied that Pakistan was “emblematic of the president’s strategy generally.”
    USA Today’s David Jackson asked if this might be termed “a setback for the Freedom Agenda.”
    “We don’t know, because we don’t know how this story comes out,” Mr. Anonymous said.
    Cox News’s Ken Herman asked if Bush was giving Musharraf a deadline for action.
    “No,” the official replied.
    Steven Myers of the New York Times said that the administration seemed “to have had very little influence” on Musharraf.”
    “We have a lot of influence,” the official replied, “but we don’t dictate.”
    Speak softly and carry a slender reed: It’s a key component of the Stand by Your Man Agenda.


  5. pauline says:

    Ron Paul Explains Fundraising Boom:
    Americans “Don’t Like The War” 11/6/07
    Yesterday, Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul (R-TX), who has “a libertarian tilt and an out-of-Iraq pitch,” set a single day fundraising record for the Republican field by hauling “in more than $4.2 million in nearly 24 hours.” Asked by MSNBC’s Norah O’Donnell this morning about what he “attribute[d]” the “success” of the effort to, Paul said it was his anti-war “message” because Americans “don’t like the war.”
    O’Donnell followed up by asking Paul about his reaction to the news that 2007 is now the deadliest year of the war yet. “It proves the surge didn’t work,” replied Paul. “The surge actually made things worse for us.” O’Donnell responded by noting that violence was down in October, to which Paul rebutted, “one month doesn’t make a year.”
    more at —


  6. pauline says:

    Some of the “reasoning” used this morning —
    Arlen Specter comes as close to calling Mukasey a liar for his “not familiar with waterboarding” comment as any GOP Senator has come — callng it a “flimsy excuse” to duck it by saying he wasn’t read into the program and “reluctant to put people at risk.” But because Mukasey thinks signing statements aren’t his fave, Specter voted yes.
    Orrin Hatch? Still a jerk. His whole argument is prefaced on how long the nomination has been discussed — and then gives a rah rah discussion of torture and tries to make anyone who finds it morally repugnant into a political hack — “a politically correct position on waterboarding.” Um, hello?!? What is this, the 12th century? Personally, I find that beyond morally repugnant. For shame.
    Feinstein: Gosh, thank goodness Mukasey isn’t Gonzales — yadda yadda yadda — please don’t hate me.
    Huckleberry Graham: “Tempted to say nice things about Feinstein, but don’t want to hurt you back home.” To which Feinstein smiles broadly. Graham thinks Mukasey is a man of the law, not politics.
    more at —


  7. pauline says:

    bush/Mukasey can now waterboard away. Here’s the list that forgot to use morals, the law, and the common knowledge that torture DOES NOT YIELD the hidden terrorists’ plans/knowledge the cia thinks torturing gives us.
    It only gets the captives to “say anything” to get the torture to stop. cia/bushwacker justification for the unending war-on-terror can then be used for their own sick purposes.
    � Feinstein
    � Schumer
    � Specter
    � Hatch
    � Kyl
    � Sessions
    � Graham
    � Cornyn
    � Brownback
    � Coburn


  8. pauline says:

    and, Steve, you’re really not thinking that some foreign policy wonk or some exotic foreign policy seminar can change the disastrous direction of our foreign policy, do you?


  9. pauline says:

    Voting for a “resolution” in Oct of ’02 to fund the bush plan of going to war in Iraq and Afghanistan was flat out unconstitutional.
    Does Steve agree or disagree?
    The congress shall have sole power to declare war, and if an emergency happens, the president can act, but then must get the congress to declare and fund the war. Our forefathers were smarter and wiser than 98 1/2% of the clowns and buffoons currently getting overpaid by us taxpayers.
    Remember the firsters and warmongers who uttered the falsehoods of us being over in Iraq for a mere 6 months? Were these particular lies told to make the dumb congress think, “well, this is ok, we’re only going to be there a short time, so what the h*ll, do and spent what you want.”?
    Both Ralph Nader (far left) and Constitution Party presidential candidate in ’04 Michael Peroutka (far right) were adamant about the illegally of the war “resolution” of 10/02.
    Hmm, I guess some people were reading the constitution.
    If there was a deep pool of blood and gusts filled with money, who in the beltway would dive in first?
    imo, Hillary has already been fitted for a presidential pantsuit/swimsuit.
    Is there any better reason to think why both congress and the bushwacker have historical low approval ratings?
    Is there anything at all that can reverse the river of lies and corruption?


  10. Susan in Iowa says:

    The main point of Ambassador Wilson’s essay was to attack Obama in a venue where his name guarantees wide readership. Obama is an easy target. He said he wouldn’t have voted for the resolution, but supported the terrorist designation. Wilson is a Clinton partisan, so this effort does not come as a surprise. Also no surprise that he offered the same “Clark and Durbin approved” rationale that Clinton offered in her recent mailing to Iowans.
    Like Clinton, Wilson declined to take on Biden and Dodd, presidential candidates who voted against the resolution, and who offered good reasons why Clinton’s vote was a mistake. Wilson did not mention Webb, Hagel, Lugar and Kerry, who also opposed it. With a lineup like that, the average person would think that Senators who know a lot about foreign policy thought that Kyl-Lieberman was a bad idea. Knowing that Joe Lieberman was in favor of it should also have inspired caution, given his efforts to move the US closer to war with Iran.
    Clinton may end up as the nominee, but she needs to make it out of Iowa first. Her dissembling on the Kyl-Lieberman vote has not helped her here. A vote for “robust diplomacy” is what she calls it, but that is not believable. Pretending that the Bush administration is going to engage in diplomacy with Iran ignores history and all the available evidence. Fulfilling what Webb called Cheney’s fondest pipe dream will not push the administration in that direction. Clinton is smarter than to believe that.
    So why did she vote for it, really? I don’t expect her to tell us.


  11. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Why not draft a resolution promising an end to regime change policies if Iran took some some kind of constructive steps”
    What “constructive steps” would that be? Giving up their right to developing nuclear power? Or perhaps ignoring the fact that the most agressive regime in the area, that has threatened them with nuclear weapons, (at least through implication), Israel, has enough nukes to wipe Iran off the map?
    Seriously, Steve, how about being a bit more specific about what you mean by “constructive steps”?


  12. susan says:

    “I’m sorry, but the exact same thing was being said about Howard Dean at this stage of the ’04 election cycle…”
    Dean was a dark horse candidate bitterly resented by establishment Dems.
    Hillary, on the other hand, has the support of the elites in the party. She doesn’t have to worry that Carville and other powerful Dems will start a whispering campaign suggesting that she is “unelectable.”


  13. .... says:

    david n – bush would pay a price if an attorney general was nominated who acknowledged water boarding as torture.. all the pathetic wimps in the democratic party who plan on supporting mukasey need to be held accountable too. they are all in cahoots with one another it seems. what is hillarys position on his nomination?


  14. David N says:

    “The administration manipulates, obfuscates, distorts, seduces, and deceives when it comes to rationalizing controversial actions it wants to take.”
    As if that were only true with regard to foreign policy.
    As the SCHIPs and water bill vetoes show, the only compromise Bush recognizes is one in which everything is the way he wants it. To him, bipartisan means complete and total capitulation by the Democrats — something he unfortunately usually gets.
    So why should Iran policy be any different? Why, when Bush has never paid any price for any mistake or error he has ever made in his life, should anything change now?


  15. Chesire11 says:

    “Hillary Clinton is looking more and more like the Democratic nominee…”
    I’m sorry, but the exact same thing was being said about Howard Dean at this stage of the ’04 election cycle.


  16. JohnH says:

    Excellent response, Steve.
    “The Bush administration exploits opportunities that the Congress gives.” In other words, their modus operandi is to act first and then beg foregiveness later, which they have never, ever been compelled to do.
    Hillary claims to run on her experience, but nothing in her experience seems to have taught her how Bush behaves. Since she is a smart lady, one has no choice but to conclude that she is ignorant of the consequences of Kyl-Lieberman by choice.
    When triangulating on foreign policy, she has become a master at drawing a distinction without a difference, which begs the question: is she merely a Bush-clone in a pants suit?


  17. pauline says:

    So sad, but imo, the presidential debates from both sides have turned into nothing more than “news conferences”, with virtually practiced and pre-determined sound-bites ready to be re-aired.
    There is no serious debating done for American voters to really know the candidates’ top issues and solutions with any kind of depth and understanding. How many thought Kucinich, Dodd, Gravel got to fully air their thoughts? How about Huckabee or Paul?
    Didn’t the Women League of Voters have to give up on sponsoring the debates because the Presidential Debate Commisssion (private co. with the national dems and repubs really running it) grabbed control and went so far they wouldn’t even let Ralph Nader into the 2004 debates to watch?!
    imo, Hillary wants the endless war to continue, all the endless war funding to continue, and the endless war-on-terror mantra to continue. Her big money backers want exactly the same. If elected, her presidential pantsuit might just look like a 5 star general’s outfit.
    imo, it’s so much easier for her to throw out the “I’m tough” war talk than to actually have any end-the-war concrete plans out front, middle class tax relief out front, solid well thought out healthcare plans in place, and darn right REAL talk and ideas for the missing class of people in the US that are barely above the poverty level, but too poor to really be considered middle class. The estimate I read says nearly 57 million people are one sickness, one accident, one lost job away from devastating family results. And forget about the millions of kids who can easily become displaced and lost by simply being in this vast and growing missing class of people.
    Hillary and her high-priced wordsmiths will try to have us thinking, “wow, she’s the answer to all our terror and security woes…” Everything else gets a ten second sound-bite.
    Any talk of peace and economic fair play/trade between nations seems to go by the wayside. Forget that growing missing class out there, they’re invisible to the “top” presidential candidates — and that certainly includes Hillary.


  18. Chris Brown says:

    Does Clinton’s consistent “tilt towards the military edge of diplomacy…” reflect her DLC pedigree and DLC orthodoxy that democrats lose because they appear to voters as insufficiently strident relative to matter of international relations and defense?


  19. pauline says:

    Steve wrote:
    “She tends to always tilt towards the military edge of diplomacy…”
    Just like AIPAC\Military-Industrial-Complex want.
    The recent run up in gold prices usually happpens before a war.
    Is all of this not the case??


  20. Linda says:

    Selise & Steve,
    I almost agree completely with both of you, but I’m not ready to concede leadership only to Clinton. I believe it would send a strong message of Democratic unity if Senators Biden, Clinton, Dodd, & Obama and Congress Kucinich agreed to jointly take the lead on getting this passed.


  21. selise says:

    steve – completely agree that moving forward we need action in both the house and senate… and if senator clinton would help lead on this matter i think we could see some positve progress.
    …then, with a good example from the senate, the house members would be under pressure to do likewise. the vote against the defazio amendment happened mostly, i think, under the radar of the public. given another vote – we could mobilize to put pressure on our representatives.
    senator clinton is in a great position, should she decide to take the lead. here’s hoping.
    p.s. many thanks for keeping your comments open and especially for participating in them.


  22. Steve Clemons says:

    selise — you raise an excellent point. There should be a new effort in the House and there should be some punishment for those who stand in the way of passing an effort to stop a replay of Bush’s Iraq action. But in the absence of that second effort in the House, there is a need for a true sense of the Senate — with a majority — even though there are clearly problems binding the White House to it.
    Good point — but in the absence of good alternatives, this is something that should be pushed.
    best — and thanks,
    steve clemons


  23. selise says:

    part of the problem is that the house has already voted on a similar measure (to webb’s bill) earlier this year (rep. defazio’s amendment to the defense appropriations bill in, i think, may). it failed decisively with 100 dems voting against it.
    the vote for kyl-lieberman, as bad as it was, needs to be seen in that context as well as the context of the “Bush administration exploiting opportunities that the Congress gives.” how does support for the webb amendment, without the effort to get it passed in the senate and when a similary bill has been overwhelming rejected in the house, balance out a vote for kyl-lieberman?


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