Saturday, December 29, 2007

Why Axelrod's Attack Hurts Obama

I hope you've had a great Holiday season.
I'll be back with new postings next week.

After the tragic assassination of Benazir Bhutto, then with the issue of the 2002 Iraq War Resolution surfacing (with cutting political statements from the Obama campaign's David Axelrod regarding the assasination) in the last days of the Iowa campaign, I'd like to reprint something I'd written a long time ago...October 7, 2006, to be precise. I predicted well over a year ago that a certain lack of grace toward those in the Senate who voted for the IWR would actually hurt the Illinois freshman Senator Obama.

14 months ago I wrote:

Jonathan Alter on Barack Obama

Barack Obama was not a member of the U.S. Senate when he opposed the war in Iraq. Both John Edwards and Hillary Clinton were in the Senate, and if there's one thing we all should understand, it's that it's a whole lot easier to say "No" when you are not directly responsible as an elected representative for the security of hundreds of thousands of constituents and when you're a representative from a state with key military bases.

If we value inexperience over our leaders actually having been there/done that, then I suppose Jonathan Alter is 100% correct that Democratic primary voters will find Obama to be "perfectly positioned" for 2008. However, that's not at all what I witnessed in 2004 when Democratic primary voters flocked to John Kerry, who had voted for the Iraq War resolution. To the primary voters, Kerry had had a decided air of gravitas that comes only from life (and war) experience. The voters didn't use Senator Kerry's vote for the IWR against him then. Armed with plenty of real knowledge and 20/20 hindsight about the Bush administration's failures, misleadings and outright untruths, I cannot believe that Democratic voters will punish those who voted Yes to the IWR in 2008 because they will understand that it was not the Democrats who commanded this disastrous war. Many of the same Democrats who gave good faith and trust to the POTUS in 2002 are now being labeled as cowards and traitors in stump speeches by the President.

I trust that Democratic primary voters will understand that both Edwards and Clinton have been no less than repulsed by the gross inefficiency of Donald Rumsfeld, who offered many times to step down but was begged to stay by an incredibly incurious President who clearly never understood how to lead a war or the dangers of rushing your nation into an unjust and unwinnable type of warfare.

The truth is that it wasn't at all easy to vote "yes" OR "No" in October, 2002 to give the POTUS the authority to press the UN on Resolution 1551. A year had barely passed since the worst attack on American civilians in U.S. history. The cherry-picked intelligence being shouted from the Bush bully pulpit proved out to be a horrifically negligent, if not intentional misleading, but no one knew it or could prove it then. With weakness and inefficiency from CIA head George Tenet and the false stories from journalists like Judith Miller along with the rest of the pliant Oval-office stenopad-MSM, our leaders were put between a rock and a terrible place.

Collectively, we all learn from mistakes of our past. The question should be: What has Senator Edwards learned? What has Senator Clinton learned?

We'll never know what Barack Obama would have done had he been called on the floor of the Senate to look every American in the eye on the CSPAN camera and risk American lives (and his own reputation) just because he had a hunch that Bush was a dishonest broker. He never had to be there. I imagine he's glad of it because he won't have to answer for it one way or the other.

What the Democrats did in 2002 was not easy for them. Their floor statements will tell you that they were torn. Regime change in Iraq was the policy of America when President Clinton left office and it was still the policy at the time of the IWR. Would President Clinton have impulsively and inefficiently done what Bush did? I doubt it, but he wasn't POTUS at the time. He didn't have to make that decision, and I imagine he's glad of it because he won't have to answer for it one way or the other.

I know Barack Obama has a brilliant future ahead of him. I admire him. He's a fantastic orator and he shows a firm commitment to American progress. When it comes to voting for the Iraq War resolution, he could only second guess Senators like Edwards and Clinton. Even he, I'd imagine, would have the grace to understand that they were in a far different place than those outside the halls of federal leadership in those dark days.

- Jude Nagurney Camwell

Some are arguing that Senator Clinton has "agreed" with Axelrod's criticism - a ludicrous thought. While she may have rightly argued that the Bush administration has diverted resources and attention away from Afghanistan, she certainly hasn't invited unwarranted and not-so-subtle political attack on herself. Senator Clinton, Joe Biden, and John Edwards, who said he was wrong about his vote for the 2002 resolution (in 2005, of which columnist Davd Sirota called a "courageous mea culpa"), have clearly not supported the way the Bush administration has led this nation on Iraq. The way I see it, if Axelrod, on behalf of Obama is using Bhutto's tragic murder as a call to who’s made the right judgments, then shouldn't voters judge where Obama was in 2002 when he was not responsible to cast that all-important vote?

The simple answer is: Not in the U.S. Senate.


Barbara said...

Looks like it didn't hurt Obama in Iowa...

but it's still anyone's race.

Jude Nagurney Camwell said...

Most people are naturally sucked in by the hope rhetoric but don't think about how things were for the Senate and the Senators in 2002. The way I see it, when we're talking about how I view a candidate's character, is that it's a cheap way to make an intra-party case against judgment of those who were actually serving in U.S. Senate at the time.

It may not hurt him now...maybe not later...but in my eyes (and my readers know how closely I've followed events), it's not a valid argument.