(Host) Commentator John McClaughry has been listening to the national debate over the progress of the war in Iraq, and one voice in particular has won his approval.
(McClaughry) As the partisan battles rage on over the war in Iraq, it’s worth taking a look at the positions of the politicians in the two parties who right now seem to be frontrunners for a presidential contest in 2008.
Sen. John McCain, the very independent minded Republican, has put some distance between himself and President Bush on the conduct of the war. For instance, early on he favored the deployment of more troops. More recently he has differed with the White House on “torture”, whatever that may mean. But overall he is and has always been a rock solid supporter of the decision to go to war in Iraq as essential to our national security.
The more interesting case is that of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee. During the 2004 election season, Sen. Clinton was notably circumspect in her statements on the war. With the Left wing of the Democratic Party raging about Bush and Cheney at every turn, she has now come under some pressure to take a more aggressive position. In response to that pressure, she wrote a letter to supporters a month ago.
In it Sen. Clinton not surprisingly makes numerous criticisms of the Bush administration. She says that if Congress had known three years ago what it knows now, it would never have voted to support the Iraq war. She reminds her readers of her criticism of Bush’s conduct of the war. But the key words are these, quote:
“It is time for the President to stop serving up platitudes and present us a plan for finishing this war with success and honor – not a rigid timetable that terrorists can exploit, but a public plan for winning and concluding the war. I do not believe that we should allow this to be an open ended commitment without limits or end. Nor do I believe that we can or should pull out of Iraq immediately. America has a big job to do now. We must set reasonable goals to finish what we started and successfully turn over Iraqi security to Iraqis. We must deny terrorists the prize they are now seeking in Iraq. .If the [December 15] elections succeed we should be able to start drawing down our troops, but we should also plan to continue to help secure the country and the region with a smaller footprint on an as-needed basis.” End quote.
These remarks won’t satisfy the hate-Bush left of her party – in fact, they are already out picketing her appearances – but they are responsible and statesmanlike. They recognize that hysterically bashing Bush may be cathartic for left wing Democrats out of power in Washington, but it is not a policy for the future of America.
You won’t hear me say this often, but – thanks Hillary. You have set a fine example for your party. Whether a majority of its members will buy it is of course another question.
This is John McClaughry – thanks for listening.
John McClaughry is president of the Ethan Allan Institute, a Vermont policy, research and education organization. He spoke from our studio at the Fairbanks Museum in Saint Johnsbury.