Hillary vs. History
Oct. 8th, 2007 @ 07:44 am
Everyone's giving Hillary a ton of crap for not apologizing for voting for the Iraq war... ya know what? I LIKE the fact that she hasn't apologized and said "We shouldn't have done that" or any of that. Frankly, it makes me like her more, not less.
Here's the deal: Back-in-the-day when the Bush machine was pumping out details about how everyone had Weapons of Mass Hysteria, chances are even you were jumping up and down screaming "Take out Saddam!" while discussing how we need to protect ourselves from the inevitable threat that was coming at us from anyone in that general vicinity. Hell... even people here were feeling pressure and oppressed because they were being associated with bombers and whatnot.
The truth is, at that point in time, WE ALL BELIEVED what we were being told. We'd just had a massive terrorist event, and we had a government that was telling is ITS ALL THEIR FAULT and we yelled "Go Get'em!" and we've held a grudge against that Saddam guy since the first Iraq war... so sending a sniper rifle with the business end pointed at the guy that was the iconic thorn in our side wasn't a huge jump.
So today politicians everywhere are saying things like "I shouldn't have done what I did and I'm sorry." So back in 2002, knowing what you knew (or thought you knew), believing what you did, and no more than you did, you're saying you shouldn't have done what you did? That's fuckin lame. Looking back, no, maybe it wasn't the best decision to make, but at the time the general consensus was that it was EXACTLY THE RIGHT DECISION TO MAKE. So, you're saying that back-in-the-day you should have decided NOT to do what 90% of people thought was the right thing to do? You would have been out of office faster than Paris out of prison.
So this is why I like Hillary: She's never apologized for making what most believed was the right decision at the time. She did what was necessary given the information she had, she made a decision, and now she realizes we need to spend our time dealing with the negative consequences of a then-positive decision. So today we know more... we realize we got fucked by the Bush administration... yeah... okay... so lets do something about that... but running around saying we shouldn't have done the thing everyone wanted us to... that's what "flip flopping" is really all about.
In my opinion Hillary has integrity. Maybe she is a conniving, crotchety old bitch... but she's not going to say what she once told us was white is now black... and that simple fact speaks volumes to me.
Hmmm... I disagree that invading Iraq was so clearly the correct decision to make at the time. I see where you are coming from, but let me explain why I'd hold Hillary to a higher standard.
Yes, it was a product of our non-deliberative government and echo chamber media that the average person heard only arguments in favor of the invasion, but even at that time, the lead up to the war and the justifications that were made were highly broken. Recall the premature ejection of the weapons inspector, their assertions that there were no weapons, Joe Wilson's repudiation of the attempted yellow cake purchases, the lies about the aluminum tubes that were immediately debunked... and on and on. If one was willing to dig a little deeper, there was plenty of information to indicate that the war was dubious from the start.
Now, I don't blame any average American for trusting the information and the points-of-view that are communicated by the mass media-- though hopefully everyone will be more skeptical in the future-- but I do hold someone in leadership to a higher standard. If you are going to cast a vote to authorize war, you better damn well take it upon yourself to question the spoon feeding. Isn't this what government leaders get paid for? And it wasn't like there wasn't help: there were always people screaming that this was a bad idea, but they somehow got completely marginalized via the usual name-calling and ridicule.
Intellectual laziness and susceptibility to propaganda aren't particularly traits that incline me to vote for the next President. I don't think that an apology makes these failures go away, but it at least expresses a recognition of what happened and the real danger it presents. The systemic ability to easily manipulate the world's superpower into a silly war is in my book at least as great a threat as Saddam ever was.
You make a major assumption that we all believed what we were being told at the time. That is incorrect. I for one, never believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and I would presume that most intelligent people believed the same and had great amount of trepidation with the decision that our lovely president made at the time. Not to mention that to use preemptive force was a first for our nation and sets a precedent that is extremely dangerous. You would be wise to revise your interpretation of the events of the time and the perception the American people had of said events.
Iraq was a state, not a nebulous terrorist group. It has borders, a capital, known military installations, etc.
We know how to deal with states that make war on the USA. We bomb them until there is no infrastructure left. If we get pissed off enough, we nuke them. It's easy to make war on a state, compared to fighting a guerilla force
Iraq was not a threat to the USA. We've been dealing with much more real threats from nuclear-armed nations since 1949
Iraq was potentially a threat to our ally Saudi Arabia, but that's why we have military bases there, and why we sell them (some) weapons: so they are protected and continue to sell oil to the rest of the world. Iraq also threatened Israel, but they are remarkably good at protecting themselves; they've been doing it quite successfully since 1948
The invasion of Iraq is an immense waste of our time, money, and soldiers. It has put a severe strain on our regular military, caused the deployment of National Guard
units outside the USA for the first time, ever, and significantly destabilized that region of the world. It is a massive blunder.
The Congress did not declare war on Iraq. They did, however, allow President Bush a little latitude in how he dealt with them - studied ambiguity
(this is how we protect Taiwan
: we don't say what we'll do if China tries to invade it. We might do nothing, or we might nuke Beijing. They get to guess). The Congress gave an inch, and Bush took a mile. He knew that once we went in, it would be "in for a penny, in for a pound" and we'd be unable to quickly or easily extricate ourselves.
The Congress is expected to know better. They are expected to find out things beyond what the media reports. This is why there is a Library of Congress
. This is why they are privy to intelligence reports and analysis that we don't get to see. They are expected to question whatever the executive branch says.
Hillary Clinton is just as culpable in that dereliction of her duty
as a US Senator as every other member of Congress at that time.
the only thing i would add, which might mitigate the senate's culpability a bit, is that it's been documented that the Vice President set up an inside group out of his office to specifically cherry-pick CIA Intel in order to falsely justify an invasion of Iraq. this is fact.
the cherry-picked Intel favoring an invasion was presented to the president and congress; it is assumed (not proven fact) that at some point Bush was aware the Intel was one-sided and incomplete, but went along with Cheney's desire to invade, anyway. (not once has Bush EVER gone against Cheney's desires, not once in 7 years.)
so the one-sided and prejudiced Intel was what sold the invasion to Congress. the CIA reportedly did not speak up about it -- that all of the Intel they'd gathered which proved why Iraq should NOT be invaded, along with the opposite, was not seeing the light of day thanks to the Vice-President's office -- because of legal issues such as duty, loyalty oaths, etc.
also, remember what happened to J. Wilson, when he dared to speak the truth about the false Intel being used to justify war.
your point that, a senator's job is to dig deeper, is well-taken. on the other hand, they did not at that early time believe ANY president would falsify Intel like that and take the country to war unfounded. gullible? shallow? yup. they got played.
a politician can't stand that. makes 'em look really weak and stupid. so the facts leading to war have never gotten further than some of the blogs. the info is all fully documented, but it doesn't matter. those from both parties seem to think the truth will make the country look even worse than it looks right now, a debatable argument. if i have this wrong, i welcome your correction. your comment here was really awesome.
TO CHRIS ----- :-) as for Hillary, i will vote for her too, probably.
Oh, dear. Time for a history lesson:President Lyndon Johnson
, the credibility gap
and the smoking gun thereof
(which, among others, involved a certain current-day democratic presidential candidate
(who I think is right about the issue he's currently pushing, but has the wrong solution)). Among other things, we were bombing a neutral country
.President Richard Nixon
, and Watergate
. For that one, lots of people actually went to jail, alas, not including the perpetrator-in-chief. I remember precisely where I was in August of 1974 when Nixon gave his resignation speech: at dinner at a boys' summer camp near Portola, CA.President Ronald Reagan
, and the Iran-Contra Affair
. Congress legislated that the US was not to fund the Contras
. President Reagan violated the law, and then had a very, very convenient attack of Alzheimer's when called to testify about it.
Old truism: how can you tell when a politician lies?
His lips move.
The modern Congress has absolutely no excuse
for taking any statement
of the executive at face value.
well, i can see your point, although it's a bit of a reach equating watergate and iran-contra with taking the nation to war to invade. but i do see your point.
u enjoy being more or less correct, far too much, however ;-P
You have no idea.
Iran-Contra was in part about directly supporting a war effort against a legitimately elected government that Reagan didn't like
, despite the explicit legislation to the contrary by the Congress, and the support wasn't just money
. President Carter had reinstated the first step of the draft
during his administration, and everyone was really worried that Reagan would actually use it to raise an army and fight wars in the jungles of central america. I was of draft age at that time, so you might imagine that I was paying attention ...
If you're feeling really paranoid, consider the very timely death of William Casey
before he was going to testify about Iran-Contra.
As for Watergate, that was about the suppression of dissent and the consolidation of power in the Imperial Presidency
. Oh and guess who
was doing his thing in the executive branch at that time, under the tutelage of another familiar face
? It's funny how the same old tactics used in that era have reappeared once again ...
Oh, one more thing: in your first comment, you phrased things as if Bush were being led around by the nose by Cheney, as if he were some country bumpkin. He may play a country bumpkin, but consider how neatly that image lets him off the hook if it all goes bad. I'd suggest that the reason it appears that Cheney is in charge is that Bush agrees with him (their goals are aligned), and he lets people believe that ...
You're only paranoid if they're not actually out to get ya.
Mostly, though, I'm just deeply cynical about politics, but in spite of that, I vote in every election.
There's an even simpler way to state this:
1. The Congress is the legislative and policy-making body of our national government. They must have fact and truth if they are to have even a chance of getting it right.
2. This is why "lying to Congress" and "Contempt of Congress
" are crimes!
3. Unfortunately, if the Congress will not prefer charges against those individuals who lie to them, why the hell are they surprised when people do?
That leaves a fourth point which is painful: the Congress is responsible to the people of the USA. If those elected poltroons aren't doing their jobs, We The People should turn them out of office.
But we don't.