The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Mixed Signals

I've been meaning to write a post about the truly strange manner in which the debate over Iraq issue has played out in the Senate and the House. It's pretty clear that GOP incumbents are terrified of Iraq still being a disaster in November '08, but fully aware that it will be. Which has resulted not only in strange procedural maneuvering to dodge the issue, but some out-there verbal contortions from politicians trying very hard to find a way to say "I was against the war after I was for it" that is less likely to become an '08 albatross.

"This is a rather toothless 97 words," [Rep. Adam] Putnam began in his floor speech, calling the proposal "a narrow nonbinding resolution that misses the bigger picture." Minutes later, he changed his view. "The majority would have us consider a resolution that puts us one day closer to handing militant Islamists a safe haven the size of California."

So which one is it: toothless or catastrophic?

Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio) wasn't sure. In his floor speech, he called the resolution "nonbinding" six times, labeling the resolution "a political charade lacking both the seriousness and the gravity of the issue that it's meant to represent." And yet, he also thought the resolution "is the first step toward abandoning Iraq by cutting off funding for our troops that are in harm's way."

Neither had Minority Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.) found harmony between the competing talking points. "This resolution just says enough not to say anything at all," he judged. In another breath, however, he called it a "first step to cutting off funding for the dangerous mission our troops face" and a debate that "bolsters those radical terrorists whose sole goal is to destroy America."

Unfortunately, some Democrats still see dithering as their best hope.

In the wake of a piece on Hillary Clinton's 2002 Iraq vote, we heard this morning from Roger Tilton, the New Hampshire resident who asked Clinton over the weekend whether she could say, "once and for, without nuance, ... that that war authorization vote was a mistake."

"I asked her what I thought was an easy, softball question that she could knock out of the park," Tilton writes in an e-mail message. "I spoke slowly and deliberately to get a quick answer, to put the issue behind her so I, and other primary voters like me, can support her. I agree with her on so many of the other issues."

Clinton responded to Tilton's question by saying: "Well, I have said, and I will repeat it, that knowing what I know now, I would never have voted for it but I also -- and -- I mean, obviously you have to weigh everything as you make your decisions. I have taken responsibility for my vote. The mistakes were made by this president who misled this country and this Congress into a war that should not have been waged."

Tilton says Clinton's response was "cold and calculated" and left him with the impression that she "is what the media often describes her as, too political and not authentic." "We are looking for authentic this time," he writes.

"The reason I drove all that way that morning was to see if in person she is like she is perceived on TV," he says. "Up to the point of my question, she wasn't. Then, suddenly, she was. We have a president who for six years has been unable to admit a mistake. We don't need another."

Clinton should probably hire this guy immediately. Instead, she seems determined to follow the same 'veer rightward' strategy that was such a disaster for Gore and Kerry-- but in their defeat made them much wiser men and tough political foes, if only too late.

And speaking of Gore, there's a rumor flying around that he could announce he's running sometime this fall. I, for one, would love to see it. The next president is going to have a damn hard job to do after all the messes created by these idiots, and we really need a candidate who is thoughtful about issues, intelligent (I still remember PJ O'Rourke talking about how 'stupid' Gore is-- but that was before the Madness of King George era), a seasoned veteran of getting things done in the White House and Congress, and big on projects that are utterly without glamour, but of paramount importance to America's long-term standing in the world. Sorry, I just really like the guy.