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Frank Dwyer Headshot

Dear Senator Clinton: Does George W. Bush Pass the Commander-in-Chief Threshold?

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This is not a trick question. I really do need to know what you think, since your strong lurch to the right has confused me. Bush has been Commander-in-Chief for 7+ years, so he must have passed your threshold, right? Isn't that how you see it? I know he can't claim a lifetime of experience, like your good pal John McCain, or even eight full years of First Lady experience, like you, but still--he has actually been the Decider and done the job, so he's qualified. Right?
For you. Not for me.

For me, the actions Bush has taken as Commander-in-Chief conclusively demonstrate that he is not remotely qualified for the job. I feel the same way about McCain, too, of course (I thought we all did, all of us who oppose the war and have worked to retire -- and perhaps even incarcerate -- the neocons). McCain's unyielding, lonely, and even courageous support of Bush's illegal and ruinously destructive war in Iraq conclusively demonstrates to me that he too fails to pass the Commander-in-Chief threshold (whatever that is). McCain was brave and honorable, he sacrificed much to serve his country while the current Commander-in-Chief, and his VP, and your husband, and I, too, avoided that opportunity. He is apparently a better person than the leader whose mistakes he embraces, but does that service and the rest of his lifetime of experience qualify him to be our Commander-in-Chief?

How can you think so? What do you really think about the War in Iraq? You said the other day that we have given the Iraqis the gift of freedom. Really? Is that what we've done? At such a cost? Is that what we set out to do? Is there anything more required of us to put the icing on that little cake? Is that why you voted the way you did? Is that line anything but a charged, hyperbolic, patently false, disgraceful Republican talking point? Who are you? What do you really think? What are you really planning to do if you are elected? Tell the truth!

As for your own qualifications: your failure to read the NIE report before you voted to authorize the Iraq war; your inexplicable and falsely characterized vote against the Levin amendment; your vote for the authorization of Bush's war (which then became your war); and your truly astonishing vote for the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment to give your President similar permission to protect us in Iran prove conclusively to me that you are as qualified to be Commander-in-Chief as Bush and McCain, no more, no less. That is to say: not at all.

Which leaves us with eloquent (not a criticism), principled (not a criticism), and decent (ditto) Barack Obama, the only candidate still in contention who has not proved conclusively by his bad judgment and his actions that he is unqualified to be Commander-in-Chief.

You and Bush and McCain are on one side of that threshold, and, the way I see it, Obama's on the other. Your speeches and your ad campaign have indeed frightened me, though not perhaps the way you intended: I shudder at the idea of any of you three, the Commander or his like-minded Commander wannabes, answering that call at 3 A.M. Please: let it ring! It's for Obama!

Your allying yourself with McCain and your intense, serious, and probably effective efforts to tarnish Obama's candidacy have been useful for something, however. All along I've been assuming, despite my growing distaste for your campaign and your positions, that if on election day my choice was between you and McCain, I would hold my nose and think about universal health care and the Supreme Court and cast my vote for you.

You have managed to persuade me not to do that. I'll vote for Obama in November, or I will write in a progressive candidate. I will not vote for a candidate I neither trust nor respect. That's the threshold you've crossed. I will not vote for you and your mean-spirited, divisive, old, tired, selfish, vaunting, anti-hope, and anti-liberal Republican message. I suspect there are many like me, and I suspect further that you know all about us -- or at least think you do.

You and your embarrassing brain trust are pretty sure we'll come around because we have to. (Although your endorsement of McCain as a good second choice makes it somewhat less urgent for us to vote, doesn't it?) Anyway, whatever you think, I won't come around. On the day the House gives Bush his FISA bill with telecom immunity (a vote you skipped in the Senate), I'm changing my registration to Independent. I'll still donate to progressive candidates (mostly to help them win Democratic primaries) and I hope to vote for Obama in November, but I will never vote for McCain or any candidate who champions him over Obama, even if she has a lifetime of impressive ceremonial experience.

As for all the talk of a dream ticket -- would you consider that? Would you consider taking the second spot on the ticket? If so, if there is any way to stop this terrible, destructive assault on our future by ending this primary campaign now, please do it. I'm sure McCain is very grateful for your support, and he hasn't picked his running mate yet. You'll be able to deliver voters he can't get on his own: Limbaugh, Coulter . . . With two lifetimes of such good judgment and great experience combined on the same ticket, how can you fail? And then Clinton-Bush (Jeb, of course) in 2016. Happy hunting.