Sunday, November 23, 2003

A few words of free advice for the General

Of course, we all know how much free advice is usually worth.

While Bush gets by with almost daily contradictions and outright falsehoods, the media is scouring anything Clark has ever said looking to feed the inconsistency meme that the Repugs are pushing. (I've heard he once complimented Dick Cheney on his tie, but I haven't found the videotape.) The latest is from Face the Nation regarding Clark saying nice things about Rumsfeld’s appointment early on juxtaposed against Clark saying to Rather that he would not have appointed him. I understood Clark’s answer, but I think it needs to be bit more clear. I suggest:

I knew Rumsfeld from when he served previously and knew him to be extremely bright and capable. But at the time I spoke highly of his appointment, I assumed that his world view was more in line with the realties of the world we find ourselves in. As he has demonstrated, clearly it is not. In 2000, if I was President, I might have considered him for a position. If I had, I would have interviewed him, discovered the discrepancy in our world views and would not have appointed him, just as I said to Dan Rather recently.

On the comment about the Iraq war resolution that will not die, and was brought up in every major media appearance this past week:

When I said I thought the conversation with those journalists was “off the record”, what I meant by that was that we were have a free wheeling conversation in which I was thinking out loud about a complex and hypothetical situation, not stating a policy position for the record. This issue is less cut-and-dried than many would want you to believe, which is why I don’t think one’s vote on this should be any kind of litmus test for Democrats.

Listen closely, because I want to clarify this once and for all. If I were President, I would have wanted the Congress’ clear support to strengthen my hand with the UN. This is what I assume my fellow candidates who voted for the resolution were trying to achieve. More specifically, perhaps, trying to strengthen Colin Powell’s efforts to work through the UN. I don’t fault them for their vote. The Neocons never wanted to go to the UN in the first place and anyone interested in a diplomatic solution may have felt that providing Colin Powell with greater leverage was the best bet to avoid war.

In an ideal world, if I were in Congress I would have hoped to have a resolution that would have required the President to come back to the Congress. But don’t kid yourself. At the point this President decided to go to war, he would have gone with or without a resolution, and the Republican congress was not going to tie his hands. What I have said is that I would not have voted to go to war. But to be fair to them, I don’t think every congressmen who voted for the resolution viewed themselves as voting for war.

By the same token, I don’t fault Dennis Kucinich for voting against the resolution and I don’t fault anyone who claims they would have voted against the resolution if they had had the opportunity. This war at this time was absolutely not necessary. This war distracted us from the war on terrorism. I have been very consistent on this. Howard Dean consulted with me at least four times about foreign affairs and he never thought my position was otherwise. That said, once it was imminent, I supported our troops and wanted them to have everything they needed to be successful—especially an effective strategy for success which this administration has never had.

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