Hillary Clinton was wrong on Iraq when she voted to give George Bush the authority to use force in 2003. So with war having turned out to be the biggest foreign policy disaster since World War II, one would think that the smartest thing she can do is to try to talk about anything but the war. But instead, she and Bill Clinton have decided to embark on an astounding mission to revise history and question Senator Obama's consistent opposition to the war.
A few weeks before the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and as Senator Clinton was about to give her support for the use of force against Saddam, Barack Obama gave a major speech in which he said that while he did not oppose all wars, he opposed the Iraq was because it was a "dumb war." When he made the speech, he was running for the U.S. Senate and had everything to lose. But instead of poll-driven calculation, he demonstrated courage and sound judgment. Ever since, Obama has been consistent on his opposition to the war.
In a recent tirade, Bill Clinton questioned Obama's claim that he opposed the war from the beginning. First, he said that while Obama gave his 2003 speech, he later said during the convention that he didn't know how he would have voted for the war if he was in the Senate. But that is not the whole truth. It is true that Obama told Tim Russert during the interview on Iraq that "what would I have done? I don't know." But he did follow by saying that in his view, "the case for war has not been made." What President Clinton willfully ignores is that when Obama made his statement, he was about to speak at the convention where both Senators Kerry and Edwards had also voted for the war. Does Bill Clinton think the convention was an appropriate venue for Senator Obama to have made a strong case against the war? Obviously not. Now if former President Clinton thinks he can take advantage of Obama's statement and turn in against him in order to support his wife's bid for the White House, that is fine, but he should expect to be called out on it.
Another point that President Clinton raised to question Senator Obama's consistency on the war was the fact he had voted to support the funding for the war. But the fact is that these are two different issues. Obama opposed the war from the beginning because he thought that the case had not been made. But by the time he got to the Senate, the country was already at war. With American soldiers on the ground and in need of body armors and other equipment to keep safe, he did not think that cutting funding was the right thing to do. The suggestion that if one opposes the war, one has to oppose funding for our troops is flawed because it implies that if our political leaders in the White House and Congress take us into a war based on fictitious reasons, the troops have to pay the price for it. That's not right.
Bill Clinton's aggressive support for his wife can be due to a number of reasons, such as the idea that he sees this nomination as a referendum on his own presidency or the possibility that he thinks by supporting his wife so strongly, he can prove his loyalty and repair the damage to his character following the Lewinsky affair in the eyes of the public. But engaging in revisionism and distortion of other candidates' positions and turning the arguments fellow democrats have made to support past party nominees against them are frankly below a former president. The biggest fairytale in this campaign is the idea that the Clintons who were for the war before they were against it are in the position to criticize Senator Obama who consistently opposed the war from the beginning.