Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tough Love for Hillary Clinton on IWR

"An humble knowledge of thyself is a surer way to God than a deep search after learning."

- Thomas à Kempis, German monk, mystic

So Many Advisers -
I read the Patrick Healy article about Senator Hillary Clinton and her advisers on the front page of last Sunday’s New York Times and I’ll admit that I was a bit surprised that this article made the front page while a story about Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice’s visit to Baghdad, where she ludicrously compared the Iraq war to the American Revolution, was buried on page 14.

After reading the Healy article, I decided that it must be overwhelming for presidential candidates at times, realizing how many decisions faced by the candidates are made tougher by myriad campaign advisers, each with their own personal ideas about the position they believe the candidates should take on the respective issues. I believe that Senator Clinton may be getting into some trouble with her latest decisions, and I regret to see that these decisions are resulting in an appearance of her shunning the netroots, with her advisers wrongly dismissing their concerns as nothing more than anger.
That rhetoric sounds too “Joe Lieberman-ish” to me. I would not suspect that this is something she’d intend to do, as I know from my own personal experience that she and President Clinton have shown clear respect for and interest in the blogging community.

"We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done".

— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 - 1882)

The IWR Vote Issue - When Will It Go Away?
Some of Senator Clinton’s advisers, including former UN ambassador Richard Holbrooke, believe that what she says now, in 2007, about her Iraq War vote in 2002 will be remembered as a ‘turning point’ in the 2008 presidential race. They obviously don’t think this issue is going away anytime soon. Mr. Holbrooke says that Senator Clinton believes that it should be a no-brainer for Americans – the IWR was based on false intelligence. It never should have come up for a vote at all. Mr. Holbrooke seems to think that it should logically follow that an‘I was wrong’ would not be anything the American people would expect or deserve. I have to say that, from a standpoint of moral leadership, I find that logic to be hard to follow or swallow, and I’d wager most any American you’d meet on the street in your own community would feel the way that I do.

The Niche -
It's Deliberate, Highly-emphasized and Strongly-publicized..But Is It Necessary? Helpful?

Other logic applied in the article defending Senator Clinton’s reason for denying concerned Americans an offering of a simple “I was wrong” has failed to convince me that this is any more than a deliberate, necessary, highly emphasized and strongly publicized route to create a political niche for Senator Clinton. The way I see it, her reasons for voting for the IWR were not drastically different than that of the only other top-tier candidate who also voted for authorization in 2002, Senator John Edwards. He said, in a November 2005 Washington Post op-ed, that he believed he was wrong about his vote. Her refusal to apologize seems to be divisive and alienating for Democratic primary voters and as far as the general election is concerned, I don’t see how it will win Independent voters who are extremely concerned about this war or Republicans who say they’ll never vote for her under any circumstances.

Not Sorry? My God, Why Not?
I believe that these are times when some earthy and plainspoken deference to the concerns of the people is twice as important for a candidate to offer than stressing the importance of deference to President Bush in 2002. If anything will count in 2008, it will surely be character. After six years of incompetence and misleading from the Bush administration leadership, voters will discriminate and will parse the field of candidates cautiously to find what they believe is a leader who does not need to appear strong by never admitting where they’ve been wrong, regardless of their gender. Gender should never be a reason to avoid moral honesty, and because I want to see the best for her, I wish Senator Clinton would listen to voices like mine. I would urge her to find a way to communicate to Americans that she is, indeed, sorry that her deference to President Bush in 2002 – which she felt was due at the time - contributed in any way, shape, or form, to a war that defied the will of millions of people in America and around the world, defied the moral leadership of many religious leaders, including the head of the Catholic church, and unjustly created a humanitarian crisis for the people of a nation we have now occupied longer than the duration of WWII.

Not sorry? My God, why not?

Self-Revelation as Great Power vs. Weakness
President Bush has shown us his stubborn ‘strong and wrong’ attitude for too long. If the people want ‘I was wrong,’ it seems it would show respect for a candidate to look them in the eye and level with them. The harder a candidate tries to avoid an apology, the more tangled a web can become. We all look toward a better future rather than clinging to mistakes long past. However, there is great power concealed in a leader’s self-revelation regarding regret - the kind of regret that any human being would understand and forgive. When that admission of human error in judgment is willfully denied to the people who need to hear it most, there will always be an important missing connection with the people who need – now more than ever – to trust their commander in chief.

For the Last Time, We're Not Angry. We Voted for Change. We Respect Strength When We Believe It Comes From the Heart
The advisers quoted in the article keep referring to American “anger” over the IWR vote, while the names to put on the feelings about the Democratic candidates who voted for the IWR in 2002 are much closer to worry, distrust, and skepticism. Senator Edwards offered an ‘I was wrong’ long ago when he said that his conscience directed him to do so. American voters have been impressed by what they’ve seen as his honesty, which one of the Clinton advisers have softly suggested was a gimmick. In the same article - a short few paragraphs away - Patrick Healy reports on a ‘new response’ from Senator Clinton [her advisers won’t call it a gimmick]. She’s willing to ‘lose support from voters rather than apologizing for something she did not believe in.’ That will only result in a loss of votes for her, and I have to be honest and tell you that I believe she’s making a grave error in judgment. It can’t work because it’s a combination of the RNC-style framing of Edwards as flip-flopper, the lame 2004 Kerry campaign unapologetic rhetoric, and a Joe Lieberman 2006 style of depending upon overwhelming Republican support in the general election. It won’t work if they don't believe it’s from the heart. Senator Clinton needs to show that she's not afraid to wear a bit more of that heart on her sleeve. As a woman, I can say that I wouldn't see Hillary Clinton as one bit weaker, but instead a thousand times stronger by opening up to millions of concerned and watchful Americans on this particular issue.


Frederick said...

I voiced my displeasure with Hillary myself this morning...

Larry said...

If Democrats want 4 more years of what we have then nominating Hilliary will ensure a Romney election.

TomCat said...

Eccellent article, Jude. When Hillary said to accept it or choose someone else, I decided on the latter.