A 8-10-04 post
was entitled "Kerry said what about Iraq? -- Be careful here Senator,"
and provided in part:
The headline in the AJC
reads: "Kerry says Bush was right to invade Iraq."
The headline in The Washington Post
reads: "In Hindsight, Kerry Says He'd Still Vote for War."
Responding to President Bush's challenge to clarify his position, Sen. John F. Kerry said Monday that he still would have voted to authorize the war in Iraq even if he had known then . . . "what we know now . . . ."
We will hear more about this Kerry "yes" answer between now and November -- especially during the debates -- than his earlier I did but I didn't. (You will recall that Kerry voted for the congressional resolution authorizing the invasion yet opposing funding for the war.)
According to The Washington Post
[On Saturday Sen. Hillary Clinton said] she would rather lose support for her presidential bid than apologize for her vote in 2002 authorizing the military action.
Under mounting pressure from antiwar Democrats to make amends for her support for the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which she now says was a terrible mistake, Clinton (D-N.Y.) renewed her vow to end the war if she is elected president. But she refused to repudiate her vote, as former Democratic senator John Edwards has done.
"Obviously I would not vote that way again if we knew then what we now know," the Democratic presidential front-runner said during a town meeting in Dover. "But I have to say that 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. But to me the most important thing now is trying to end this war."
Is this whole thing on Sen. Clinton's 2002 Iraq vote just semantics; or is it a bit of being hardheaded as was probably the case with Kerry; or is she afraid of having an appearance of weakness in the areas of American national defense and national security?
I don't know the answer, but I do not think I would imply that I will never apologize. Never -- or seldom -- should one say never.
After doing the above post, I came across an excellent article in today's New York Times
discussing her new comment. It notes:
Her decision not to apologize is regarded so seriously within her campaign that some advisers believe it will be remembered as a turning point in the race: either ultimately galvanizing voters against her (if she loses the nomination), or highlighting her resolve and her willingness to buck Democratic conventional wisdom (if she wins).
At the same time, the level of Democratic anger has surprised some of her allies and advisers, and her campaign is worried about how long it will last and how much damage it might cause her.
“Some of her many advisers think she should’ve uttered the three magic words — ‘I was wrong’ — but 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
, the former United Nations
ambassador and an adviser to Mrs. Clinton on foreign policy.
Navigating the antiwar anger, and toughing it out for 11 months until the primaries, is now perhaps Mrs. Clinton’s biggest political challenge.
“She is in a box now on her Iraq vote, but she doesn’t want to be in a different, even worse box — the vacillating, flip-flopping Democratic candidate that went to defeat in 2000 and ‘04,” said one adviser to Mrs. Clinton. “She wants to maintain a firmness, and I think a lot of people around her hope she maintains a firmness. That’s what people will want in 2008.”
Indeed, Mrs. Clinton believes that reversing course on her vote would invite the charge of flip-flopping that damaged Mr. Kerry or provoke the kind of accusations of political expediency that hung over Al Gore
in 2000 and her and her husband, President Bill Clinton
, in the 1990s, several advisers said. She has argued to associates in private discussions that Mr. Gore and Mr. Kerry lost, in part, because they could not convince enough Americans that they were resolute on national security, the associates said.
Mrs. Clinton’s image as a strong leader, in turn, is critical to her hopes of becoming the nation’s first female president. According to one adviser, her internal polling indicates that a high proportion of Democrats see her as strong and tough, both assets particularly valuable to a female candidate who is seeking to become commander in chief. Apologizing might hurt that image, this adviser said.
Yet some Democrats are surprised that the Clinton campaign, which is widely regarded as a ferocious political operation, has not lanced this issue.
“For the life of me I don’t understand why she can’t say, ‘I made a mistake, I was misled, the country was misled, the intelligence was manipulated,’ ” said Robert M. Shrum, a senior adviser to Mr. Kerry in 2004. “I think there’s this tremendous desire in her campaign not to get into a position where you’re identified with traditional Democratic views. But this is now a party that is strongly antiwar, and is desperate for change on big issues like Iraq and health care.”
Her approach to leadership and national security was forged during her eight years in the White House: She believes in executive authority and Congressional deference, her advisers say, and is careful about suggesting that Congress can overrule a commander in chief.
“She thinks she will be president and will have to negotiate on the nation’s behalf with world leaders,” said one Clinton adviser. “She thinks we’re likely to still be in this mess in 2009, and coming onto the campaign trail and groveling and saying at every opportunity that you made a mistake doesn’t actually help you solve the problem.”