Now it’s back to the usual fun and games.
Yesterday, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama tried to look statesmanlike (or stateswoman-like) as each respectfully questioned General David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker. Neither senator provided much in the way of push-back to Petraeus’ and Crocker’s statements. Yes, they stuck to their overall criticisms of the war and their respective calls for withdrawing U.S. troops, but each had obviously calculated that the Petraeus hearings were not an occasion to raise a fuss or score points.
But today it was time to do so. At least for Clinton. At a campaign event, she said:
We need to be planning and preparing to start bringing our troops home, and I have committed to doing that within 60 days of my becoming president. Senator Obama, on the other hand, says he’ll end the war, but his top foreign policy adviser said he won’t necessarily follow the plan he’s been talking about during this campaign. That the plan is “just words.” Well, you can count on me to end the war safely and responsibly.
Once again, she was trying to depict Obama as a phony, indirectly citing remarks from ex-Obama adviser Samantha Power, who weeks ago had said that if Obama were to become president, his withdrawal plan would be reality-checked against the conditions of the time. That’s logical. But the Clinton folks claimed Power had spilled a big secret: Obama didn’t intend to stick by his vow to withdraw troops from Iraq. And they tried to make this a big to-do.
At the time, it didn’t quite catch on as a campaign theme. (Reverend Wright came along.) But in this campaign, it seems, no allegation ever truly disappears. Clinton is trying to resurrect this charge.
The Obama campaign immediately fired back and released this statement:
Hillary Clinton’s tired and discredited attack is just the same old politics that won’t end this war that she voted to authorize, and won’t change the fact that she has repeatedly misled the American people about her Iraq record. We’re happy to have a debate with Hillary Clinton over who the American people trust to end this war, since Barack Obama is the only candidate who had the judgment to oppose the war from the very beginning, not just from the beginning of a campaign for President.
The Obama-Clinton bickering is getting old and annoying. In this round–as in many–her campaign is the more guilty party. But that aside, it’s unfortunate for Democrats and war critics that these two candidates talk tougher about each other than they do about the front men for George W. Bush’s war.