Just Where is Hillary Running?
As Molly Ivins once quoted, "Ya have to dance with them what brung ya." For better or for worse, Hillary R. Clinton is one of the Senators representing the Great State of New York. Barring a Democrat defeating George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election, she will likely be running for president in 2008 and more power to her.
For the time being, however, I feel it is imperative to know just where she stands on the issue of Iraq and our future there, particularly now that she has somehow landed a position on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Originally she was browbeaten into voting for the cowardly "endorsement" of the president's plans to invade Iraq, along with so many other members of congress. That can be forgiven, even though they clearly dodged their constitutional responsibility in matters of the declaration of war. Almost the entire congress was taken in by that.
Now, however, we are in the painful process of losing the peace, having won the war. The true war on terror beckons in Afghanistan, and it's not going well. Meanwhile the situation in Iraq deteriorates daily. Where does Senator Clinton stand on these issues? At first it seemed clear. Her recent appearances on Meet the Press and Face the Nation (Dec. 7, 2003) gave her ample opportunity to speak to these issues.
On the surface, she still criticized the Bush administration for its handling of intelligence prior to the invasion, and tried to draw attention back to the situation on the ground in Afghanistan. (For those of you not following the story there, things continue to go badly. We just had another massive debacle where an air attack killed nine children
and one adult in a small village while attempting to take out a Taliban supporter. He was not, as it turned out, at home.) She made very valid points about NATO not supplying near the number of troops they had promised for the effort. It all sounded good.
However, as William Safire points out in today's column
, she came across as awfully hawkish. She seemed to swing back and forth between neocon and Bush apologist in several answers, while still peppering her responses with approved democratic rhetoric.
From this article:
When Tim Russert on "Meet the Press" gave her the opening to say she had been misled when she voted for the Senate resolution authorizing war, Senator Clinton countered with a hard line: "There was certainly adequate intelligence without it being gilded and exaggerated by the administration to raise questions about chemical and biological programs and a continuing effort to obtain nuclear power."
On forgotten Afghanistan, like many hawks, she was critical of the failure of European nations "to fulfill the commitment that NATO made to Afghanistan. I don't think we have enough American troops and we certainly don't have the promised NATO troops."
Would she support an increase of U.S. troops in Iraq? Senator Clinton associated herself with the views of Republican Senator John McCain, who disagrees with Bush and the generals who say they have adequate strength there. She cited McCain's conviction that "we need more troops, and we need a different mix of troops." And she directed a puissant message to what some of us consider the told-you-so doves who refuse to deal with today's geopolitical reality: "Whether you agreed or not that we should be in Iraq, failure is not an option."
It's very possible that none of us will ever know where Senator Clinton stands on the Iraq issue or the war on terror. Frankly, I believe that she has had her eye on nothing but moving her things back into the West Wing since she was elected to the Senate, and will now say whatever it takes to get herself there.