Iraq: Politics and Principles and the Democratic Primary

It’s clear that many traditional Democratic voters — who for the most part strongly oppose the war in Iraq — have so far given Hillary Clinton a pass on her vote to support the Bush-Cheney war on Iraq.

Voters in the later states are going to decide who our nominee is, and I think it’s time to put the hard questions before them:

“Do you think the war on Iraq was a mistake?”

“If you do think the war was a mistake, why do you think that Hillary Clinton voted for the war?”

“Do you know that Senator Clinton did not read the classified National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq made available to Senators before she voted? One Senator who did, Bob Graham, voted against the war and begged his fellow Senators to read the report because it showed the intelligence was full of holes.”

“Did you know that Hillary Clinton voted with Republicans to defeat the Levin Amendment, which would have required President Bush to ask for explicit authorization for war if the UN Security Council refused to take action on Iraq?”

Hillary claims to have more experience, but how come this “experience” didn’t help when it came to making the right decision on Iraq?

Hillary claims to be a fighter, and best able to take on the Republican attack machine, but how come she didn’t stand up to Bush-Cheney on Iraq? (She wouldn’t have been alone, 23 other Democratic Senators had the good sense to oppose the war).

Hillary claims to be the workhorse and not the showhorse, the one candidate focused on details of her policies. How come she didn’t read the detailed NIE on Iraq before she voted to support Bush’s call for war?

To deflect our attention from this record, she’s tried to mislead us on Barack Obama’s position on the war, encouraging us to think he’s been inconsistent when in fact he staunchly opposed the war at the time, and has consistently said it was a mistake ever since.

For you professional cynics out there — yes they are both politicians, neither walks on water. But the best politicians in the history of our Democratic party have always put principles and politics together. They’ve first asked “why” their position is right, and then “how” it will get them votes.

And I’m afraid to say I’ve always found Hillary Clinton to be a little light on the principles, and heavy on the politics.

In Barack Obama, I’ve found a candidate who remembers (most of the time) to make sure his politics reflect his principles. That why I voted for him yesterday, and hope for the sake of the party (let alone the country) that he wins the nomination.