London Calling : Memo to Hillary Supporters -- Tell It Like It Really Is

I would hope that some of her fans could be honest enough to say what really happened in the Iraq vote. And why they still support her, despite hating the war.
09/30/2007 05:42 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

I have a favor to ask of some of you Hillary Clinton supporters, particularly the females among you. And you are legion.

For once, I'd just like to hear one of you say something along these lines:

"Yes, I know Hillary was wrong to vote for the Iraq war. But I'm going to overlook that because she's a woman, and so am I. And it's time we had a woman president in the U.S."

I suspect that a lot of women, most of them committed Democrats, feel precisely that way. But they won't admit it, at least not the ones I talk to.

I understand why Ms. Clinton has decided not to come clean on why she voted for the war, and why she feels she can't apologize.

To disclose the former would reveal the kind of political calculation she'd rather not be known for, but is. And when candidates apologize, that can be seen as a sign of "weakness."

But I would hope that some of her fans could be honest enough to say what really happened in the Iraq vote. And why they still support her, despite hating the war.

But rather than do that, Hillary's supporters subject us to these absurd verbal contortions in trying to justify their candidate casting the same vote as the Republicans she's running against.

(And please, stop with the semantic, hair-splitting canard about the difference between voting for authorization and voting for the war. That's a ridiculous argument, always was.)

Hilary's supporters won't acknowledge that, in voting for the war, their candidate was still pandering to her New York constituency, well after the 9/11 attacks.

They won't admit that, like Cheney, Hillary has linked the Iraq war to 9/11, as recently as earlier this year.

And they try to paint her as a "victim" of bad intelligence, the exact same way the White House does with President Bush.

Think about that for a minute, in light of what we've just heard from Bill Clinton.

On the one hand, Hillary's campaign likes to point to her being more experienced than Barack Obama, because of her time as the First Spouse. But when it serves her political purposes, they'd rather we ignore what she learned during her time in the White House.

Hillary wants us to disregard, for instance, that it was her husband's administration that decided in the late 1990s that the Iraq sanctions were working and that there was no longer any need to keep the weapons inspectors there, to play cat and mouse with Saddam Hussein.

Remember those tedious eleventh hour ultimatums NATO gave Saddam, pulling the bombers back at the last minute when the dictator finally agreed to let the inspectors do their jobs? I do, because I was there covering them.

It was on her husband's watch that the US and NATO chose, wisely, to change tack. The new policy was to pull the inspectors out and simply bomb Iraq, in a limited but effective way, every time Saddam stepped out of line by building a new radar facility or breaching the no-fly zone.

And the policy was working.

Hillary Clinton's supporters love to tell us how much smarter she is than George Bush. No argument there.

But now we're supposed to believe that she swallowed the intelligence nonsense that Bush was peddling to Congress, on how dangerous Saddam had suddenly become, even though she knew, first hand from her days in the White House, how impotent Iraq really was.

None of it adds up.

Girls, we know, and so do you, that Hillary Clinton voted for the Iraq war in order to position herself for the 2008 campaign. And it's tough to argue, politically, with her decision, given the way the Democratic race looks today.

But there's another aspect to this -- the moral question. And Hillary Clinton is on the wrong side of one of the most important moral issues of our time. For reasons of ambition and political expedience, she made the wrong call.

Tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis have died in a war she helped start. Thousands of American soldiers have been sacrificed, tens of thousands more maimed.

The congressional vote, of which she was a part, helped lead to the biggest strategic disaster in the modern history of U.S. foreign policy.

Despite all of that, millions of Americans are going to support her, simply because they feel it's time America had a woman president.

Well, the least they can do is admit that. To say it frankly, and honestly, in a way we longer expect of our politicians.

Or is that too much to ask?