Making Iraq the Issue
by Jerome Armstrong, Fri Jul 13, 2007 at 07:30:57 AM EDT
The recent attack from Obama that was directed toward Clinton and Edwards over Iraq made me wonder about which of the two, between Obama and Edwards, might be perceived as having more credibility on ending the Iraq War; but it also leads to wonder about where Obama is trying to go with the issue, given his own lack of consistency.
In the run-up to the US invading Iraq, Obama was a candidate whom spoke out against Bush's unilateralism, while at the same time, Edwards voted in favor of giving Bush the authority and he supported of the invasion. So if that's the only measure of having credibility on ending the war, then it's an easy question; but ending the war means cutting off funding of the war, and that's not been something that Obama has been in favor of, until just recently.
In contrast, during 2003, when the question of funding the war became a priority in the US Senate, it was Edwards, ahead of all the other 04 candidates, who was the first to come out against funding of the war in Iraq. Edwards continued to vote against funding until he left the Senate in 2005. Then Obama arrived in the Senate, and for 20 something votes straight, Obama never met an Iraq war-related or funding bill that he would vote against. Obama and Clinton's voting record of supporting funding of the War since then is identical.
Obama wants to make a preemptive differentiation that only he is prepared to be the Democratic nominee based on his original opposition to invading Iraq. It's as if Obama is trying to become the Dean of '08 in attracting those of us who were against this war from the beginning. But the comparison of Obama to Dean ends in 2003. Dean never supported funding of the war, Obama continually did until the most recent vote.
And why did Obama all of a sudden change his position on funding the war in Iraq? He said something vague about not wanting to give Bush a blank check, but given his abrupt 180-degree change in position, a more detailed response seems necessary. The free pass given by the media to both Clinton and Obama over that vote was amazing. Particularly when you consider that Obama, just weeks prior to the vote, made the outlandish claim that the vast majority of Democrats supported funding of the war, and voiced the Republican frame that to not fund the war was to deny material support of the troops.
I applaud the change made by Obama. It's the direction those of us who want this war ended want every Democratic politician to take, in an effort to end the war in Iraq. But the notion that Obama has some sort of special appeal over the issue of Iraq, to those of us who are actually paying attention, seems full of folly.
If Obama thinks he's going to move primary and caucus voters toward him by making a vote that happened 5 years earlier, given his strident support of funding the war, he's wrong. If Obama thinks he can make an issue out of Edwards changing his initial support of the war to leading the turn against it, he's wrong. And if Obama thinks he can make a principled stance of his from 5 years ago a central issue, while in the meantime he made the political calculation of flipping from being a vocal funder of the war to a quiet non-funder of the war, he's deluded.
There's very little for Obama to gain by trying to make this attempt at a preemptive differentiation between him and the other candidates, especially Edwards, because for anyone whom pegs that single vote in 2002 as the black-and-white issue for whom they will support for the 2008 nomination, that voter would want a much more anti-war candidate than Obama has been over the past 2 years. They have Kucinich.
There's more for Obama to lose-- and not only because of his lack of anti-war consistency. The contrived devision raises doubt and cycnacism about his message of hope and change. How does this turn to the past by Obama jive with his claim about wanting to turn the page? What's the story in wanting to stake out a candidacy on being the "forward" and "future" voice while making the central issue for his candidacy a vote that happened 4 years ago?
Where does Obama really stand on ending the war in Iraq now? Obama stands right alongside about 95% of the Democrats in office that are ready to end the war. I know there are demarcations that different supporters point out about the details of their candidates position, but the Iraq war has become a full-fledged partisan issue for 2008, and no matter whom our presidential candidate is going to be, they will be for ending the war in Iraq.