Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Splitting Hairs?

WaPo - Clinton, Obama Camps Spar on War
A brewing argument over Iraq between the presidential campaigns of Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama broke into public view here Monday night when Clinton's chief strategist challenged Obama's credentials as a consistent opponent of the war.

[. . .]

Clinton (N.Y.) voted for the October 2002 resolution authorizing the Iraq war, while Obama (Ill.), then a state senator, publicly opposed the war. The exchange marked the most substantive clash to date between the Obama and Clinton campaigns and reflected frustration among Clinton advisers over the Illinois senator's use of the issue to distinguish his candidacy.

Penn, responding to a question about Clinton's vote for the resolution, used the opportunity to attack Obama, arguing that he had said in 2004 that he was not sure whether he would have voted against the resolution had he been in the Senate.

"Obama said he didn't know exactly how he would have voted in Congress because he didn't have the full intelligence," Penn said.
I've seen some clips of what Obama had to say about the war at the time and I've read some transcripts. I think what he said and how he said it is perfectly in line with what he is still saying today. The "I didn't have all the info" caveat is just normal procedure. It's like when I was little and my mother would say that we were going to do something but she would always add, "unless something happens." It's just one of those things you have to say. I think that is even more true in politics than it is when dealing with children.

The Clinton camp also points to this:
The Clinton campaign later supplied several Obama quotations from 2004 to buttress Penn's attack. One came from the New York Times, in which Obama declined to criticize the Democratic Party's presidential and vice presidential nominees, Sen. John F. Kerry and then-Sen. John Edwards, for supporting the 2002 war resolution. "But I'm not privy to Senate intelligence reports," Obama said, according to the Times. "What would I have done? I don't know. What I know is that from my vantage point the case was not made."
At that point in the Presidential campaign, what else is he supposed to say? Once the party has its candidates other party members are expected to back them up, not rock the boat. I think he was as true to his beliefs as he could be in that statement while trying not to tear down the party's candidate.

Let's just say this whole exchange doesn't make me dislike Hillary any less than I did before. In fact, it just reinforces the feelings I already had for her. But then again, I've never made any secret of the fact that I'm not a fan of Sen. Clinton.

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