Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Clinton Draws Ire of Left for Being Right on Iraq

Looks like Hillary Clinton might have some trouble with the left-wing of her party. In a speech yesterday before the annual conference of the liberal group Campaign for America’s Future, Clinton was jeered and booed for suggesting that immediate withdrawal from Iraq is not the wisest course of action. She went out of her way to criticize the administration’s handling of the war but that wasn’t near enough for the crowd. They wanted more. They wanted her to pledge allegiance to their own irresponsible desire for immediate withdrawal.

I am glad that Senator Clinton recognizes that one can criticize the war’s beginnings and its execution while still supporting our nation’s efforts to do everything we can to stabilize Iraq. Not only do we have a moral responsibility to stay—but, like it or not, our security now depends on it. Many in Clinton’s party seem more than happy to pull out and let Iraq go to hell—or have deluded themselves into thinking that the nation’s turmoil will magically resolve itself once we’re gone. By refusing to buy into the propaganda of her party’s left flank, Clinton is demonstrating that maybe, just maybe she has the right sense of responsibility and right strength of will to lead our nation.

Of course, Clinton may never have the chance to win over people like me. Her own party could very well brand her a traitor and cast her into the pit with Joe Lieberman. That would be unfortunate because what the Democratic party needs right now more than anything else are leaders willing to take a realistic view of the Iraq situation and provide new strategies to achieving success over there. There IS a difference between whole-heartedly endorsing Bush’s plan and providing a reasoned alternative that may not include immediate withdrawal but does focus more directly on transferring authority to the Iraqi government and getting our troops home.

Unfortunately, many of the loudest voices in the Democratic party refuse to see Iraq as anything but a black and white issue. That’s a serious problem as such attitudes will hamper all Democratic presidential candidates. Either they will have to agree with their base and look foolish to the general electorate or they will have to disagree with their base and risk never getting the nomination. It will not be an easy line to walk, as Clinton proved yesterday.

The best thing that can happen for the Democrats is for Bush to withdrawal significant forces before 2008. If the war is, or appears to be, winding down, then maybe candidates like Clinton can escape this noose of an issue.


Blogger AubreyJ said...

Alan, the only problem with that is this. Even if President Bush was to pull out 80% of the troops from Iraq... the war on terror will still be far from over and the Candidates are still going to have to make a stand on Terror-- one way or the other.

8:45 PM  

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