Clinton says war vote was a mistake, but struggles to find the words
by Chris Bowers, Wed Nov 30, 2005 at 01:43:47 PM EST
"[I]f Congress had been asked, based on what we know now, we never would have agreed" to give the president the authority to go to war, she wrote yesterday.The New York Times has more of the letter Clinton sent out to supporters today:"I believe we are at a critical point with the Dec. 15 elections that should, if successful, allow us to start bringing home our troops in the coming year, while leaving behind a smaller contingent in safer areas with greater intelligence and quick strike capabilities," she wrote. "I call on the president both for such a plan and for a full and honest accounting of the failures of intelligence - something we owe not only to those killed and wounded and their families, but to all Americans." OK, she has said it, but damn is that ever a tortured, dentist chair type of admission. It certainly is a far cry from the way Edwards went about it: In an interview after the UNC speech, Edwards finally utters the words he'd assiduously avoided during the last campaign: "I voted for the resolution," he says. "It was a mistake." I don't want to criticize Senator Clinton too much for finally admitting the obvious. Still, apart from the content of her admission, I can't help but point out that there is something more than a little worrisome about her use of language in her admission. Quite frankly, she seems to be struggling with same hypercognition problems from which Gore and Kerry suffered in their general election campaigns. Clinton's answer reminds me of Kerry's tortured line about wanting to give the President the authority to go to war, but wanting to conduct the war in a different way, or some such piece of linguistic roadkill. All of the different, garbled and mangled lines he produced on the matter seemed to do little except give the impression that he did not even have a position on the war. If Clinton is going to struggle with her language the same way our last two nominees struggled, I don't want her anywhere near the national ticket no matter what her position on the war is.
By contrast, starting late in 2003, Edwards began to display the sort of strong communicative powers Democrats need in a national leader. It is clear from his blunt admission that his war vote was a mistake that he hasn't lost his touch on that front. Earlier today, frameshop guru Jeffery Feldman found much the same contrast between Feingold and Kerry when it came to discussing exit strategy. Feldman writes:Kerry made a series of statements where he attempted to parse the difference between his position and President Bush's statements. According to John Kerry, the problem with the President's "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" was that it made the claim that the U.S. military belonged to the President's policy and not to the American people (hang on, here, it's hard to explain Kerry's arguments). He then went on to explain that Democrats are not calling for a time table for leaving Iraq, but were instead calling for a time table for success in Iraq which would allow for the U.S. military to leave (See the difference? Yeah...me neither).
Kerry was confusing, he was overly patrician. He was unclear. After listening to him speak for five minutes, it was not clear what his ideas were.
Feingold was the exact opposite.
Interviewed by Nora O'Donnell on MSNBC, Feingold was asked a series of questions where he was supposed to respond to the President's attacks on his position. Rather than answer those false charges, each time he reframed the debate. Each time he did this--he was fantastic. FANTASTIC!
Feingold made several points that were crystal clear.My basic point here is that in Feingold and Edwards I find a basic quality that Democrats need to win the Presidency that I do not find in Kerry and Clinton. Not even taking their policies or biographies into account, right now in Feingold and Edwards we can see the ability to lead through language. Edwards and Feingold can inspire people to think like progressives. When they say something, they seem to have the ability to actually leave people with a clear impression of their beliefs. I just don't see this quality in Clinton and Kerry right now, and considering how long they have both been on the national stage, I'm not sure if there will ever be a time when they have that ability.
There is still time, of course, and I will keep an open mind. However, I just don't have a lot of confidence that things will change.