Yesterday’s Thoughts

February 21, 2007

Hillary Clinton Tells Me to Take a Hike

Senator Clinton has decided that she is not going to apologize for her vote in 2002 authorizing the use of military force in Iraq.

If the most important thing to any of you is choosing someone who did not cast that vote or has said his vote was a mistake, then there are others to choose from.

I heartily approve this strategy in principle. If more candidates would tell voters to vote for their opponents we would have a substantially elevated national discourse. Voters should be able to make electoral decisions based on the candidates’ policies and beliefs not on a pandering spin. Candidates attempt to be all things to all people, confusing the decisions that need to be made at every level.

In addition to approving of the strategy on principle Senator Clinton’s announcement makes it easy for me. There is no way that I’ll be supporting her in the primaries and very little chance that I will support her in the general election. The most important thing to me is choosing someone who did not cast that vote or who has said that that vote was a mistake. This is part of the deepest and most important issues facing the country today. How did we get into this fiasco in Iraq? How was did we go so far astray? Clinton’s refusal to take responsibility for her vote is part of the answer, but she has not learned from her mistake.

She has it exactly backwards. “As a candidate, Mrs. Clinton likes to think and formulate ideas as if she were president — her ‘responsibility gene,’ she has called it.” Failing to say that she was wrong is the opposite of taking responsibility. “She believes it’s self-evident that the Senate Iraq resolution was based on false intelligence and never should’ve come to a vote,” said Richard C. Holbrooke.

She’s not taking responsibility for her vote in 2002. She’s blaming Bush or the intelligence community for her vote. Yes, it is self-evident that the Senate Iraq resolution was based on false intelligence. It is self-evident today. It was self-evident to many people in 2002.

Clinton lacked either the discernment to notice that the intelligence was false or the courage to make the argument that the intelligence false. I don’t hold either the lack of discernment or the lack of courage against Clinton, or any other candidate. There was a notable lack of courage and discernment in American political life in 2002.

By refusing to take responsibility for her mistakes Clinton will not be able to learn from them. She is no more able to discern false intelligence today than she was in 2002 because her failure was not her fault. When false intelligence comes before her as President, how will she react? “It’s not my fault that I accepted false intelligence.” She is no more able to be courageous today than she was in 2002 because she doesn’t see that there were any other possibilities in 2002 and she doesn’t see that there are any other possibilities for a President than to “stay the course” and “don’t admit mistakes.”

Clinton is making the cynical bet that Americans are no more able to admit their mistakes than she is. I hope and believe she is wrong.

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