For most of my adult life, Democratic politicians — especially Presidential candidates — have adopted a "Republican light" approach to foreign policy, with an eye towards looking just as "tough" and "strong" as the Republicans.
Without a doubt, this is why John Kerry, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton voted for authorizing the Iraq war in 2002. They didn’t want to look like wimps in 2004 or 2008 as Presidential candidates.
One of the reasons so many of us like Barack Obama is that he hasn’t fallen into that trap. He has shown you could oppose the Iraq war — strongly, consistently, without wavering — and be just as strong an advocate for our national interests and our national defense as those supporting the war. If not stronger, indeed.
With his vigorous response to McCain and Bush today, he demonstrates again that strength, and why he is more fit to be C-in-C than either McCain or Clinton, both of whom marched lockstep with Bush in 2002 and 2003:
George Bush and John McCain have a lot to answer for. They have to
explain why we are now entering our sixth year of war in Iraq. We were
supposed to be going over there for weapons of mass destruction that we
never found. We were told that it was going to last a few months and
cost a few billion dollars. We have now spent over 600 billion dollars.
Thousands of lives lost, and we have not been made more safe. They’re
going to have to explain the fact that Osama bin Laden is still at
large and is sending out videotapes with impunity. They need to answer
for the fact that al Qaeda’s leadership is stronger than ever because
we took our eye off the ball in Afghanistan. They’ve got to answer for
the fact that Iran is the greatest strategic beneficiary of our
invasion in Iraq. It made Iran stronger. George Bush’s policies.
They’re going to have to explain why Hamas now controls Gaza, Hamas
that was strengthened because the United States insisted that we should
have democratic elections in the Palestinian authority. They’re going
to have to explain why it is that Iran is able to fund Hezbollah and
poses the greatest threat to the United States and Israel in the Middle
East in a generation.
That’s the Bush-McCain record on protecting this country. Those are
the failed policies that John McCain wants to double down on, because
he still hasn’t spelled out one substantial way in which he’d be
different from George Bush when it comes to foreign policy.
That’s the key line: George Bush and John McCain have a lot to answer for. The more he can say that between now and November, the more stunning and substantial his victory will be. Because, in the end, they do have a lot to answer for with the most disastrous foreign policy misadventure in a century.