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It has been amusing to see Democrats in Congress attempt to explain away their votes for the war in Iraq over the past year. Most of them have settled on the excuse that the Bush administration deceived them in October 2002 into authorizing military force based on the exact same intelligence that moved them to declare official American policy of regime change in 1998. The Democrats won a majority in the midterms by stoking Bush Derangement Syndrome, but for 2008 they face a daunting task -- winning elections without using the retiring George Bush as a bogeyman.
John Edwards has found a solution by shifting blame yet again, and in the process exposing the "Bush lied" meme as a hypocritical dodge. In his Sunday appearance on Meet the Press, Edwards attempted to excuse his vote on the AUMF by blaming Clinton administration officials for confirming the intel coming from the Bush administration (via McQ at QandO, emphases mine):
MR. RUSSERT: “ A grave threat to America,” do you still believe that?
SEN. EDWARDS: No.
MR. RUSSERT: Why were you so wrong?
SEN. EDWARDS: For the same reason a lot of people were wrong. You know, we—the intelligence information that we got was wrong. I mean, tragically wrong. On top of that I’d—beyond that, I went back to former Clinton administration officials who gave me sort of independent information about what they believed about what was happening with Saddam’s weapon—weapons programs. They were also wrong. And, based on that, I made the wrong judgment. ...
MR. RUSSERT: But it seems as if, as a member of the intelligence committee, you just got it dead wrong, and that you even ignored some caveats and ignored people who were urging caution.
SEN. EDWARDS: Well, I, I, I would—first of all, I don’t want to defend this. Let me be really clear about this. I think anybody who wants to be president of the United States has got to be honest and open, be willing to admit when they’ve done things wrong. One of the things, unfortunately, that’s happened in Iraq is we’ve had a president who was completely unmoving, wouldn’t change course, wouldn’t take any responsibility or admit that he’d made any mistakes. And I think America, in fact the world has paid a huge price for that. So I accept my responsibility. I’m not defending what I did. Because what happened was the information that we got on the intelligence committee was, was relatively consistent with what I was getting from former Clinton administration officials. I told you a few minutes ago I was concerned about giving this president the authority, and I turned out to be wrong about that.
Edwards, having discovered that George Bush cannot run for a third term, needs to find another excuse for his vote to invade Iraq, a vote which his progressive base abhors. He can't just explain it away by saying he was too stupid to see past the web of Bush lies -- after all, he sat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and had access to the classified information that formed the basis of Bush's case for military action. At the time, he was one of the more vocal Democratic supporters of action.
So now he's blaming members of the Clinton administration for lying to him as well. That's certainly convenient. After all, Hillary Clinton is his biggest competitor for the nomination, and shifting blame to her husband for the Iraq war would suit his needs perfectly. He can now argue that he was no sap -- he checked on the information and got the same answer from the previous Democratic administration.
However, this opens up a completely new problem for Edwards and the rest of the Democrats. They have claimed for at least the last two years that Bush Lied (TM), that the entire basis of the war was based on his deceptions about the intelligence. Their campaigns have created an impetus for impeachment in some Democratic circles based on this supposed set of lies. Now John Edwards, years later, claims that Clinton administration officials gave him essentially the same analysis about WMD in Iraq -- exposing the Democrats as liars and smear artists themselves.
All of this results from the lack of political courage by Democrats in Congress. They voted for the war based on the same intelligence that fueled American policy well before George Bush took office. When that intel turned out to be incorrect, or at least out of date, they panicked and tried to shove all the responsibility off onto the Bush administration, calling him and Dick Cheney liars and whipping up anti-war sentiment to cover for their own responsibility in the decision to go to war. In the process, they have made it almost impossible for the White House to exercise any flexibility in the war strategy to ensure a positive outcome from the removal of Saddam Hussein.
Edwards has proven himself to be a craven, whiny opportunist. He's also exposed many of his colleagues as having similar character flaws.Sphere It View blog reactions
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