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Reality Check

September 6, 2007

There’s lots of reasons why I won’t be voting for a Republican any time soon, but some things are beyond issues of which economic theories one likes best or what one believes about the legal status of a fetus. Consider the following reality check:

If you can’t publicly and unequivocally say that invading Iraq was a mistake, then you’re not fit to be the leader of this country. In fact, I have serious doubts about your ties to reality in general, and might prefer to keep you away from sharp objects.

That pretty much rules out every Republican running for president. (Except maybe Ron Paul, whom I reject on completely different grounds.)

Discuss.

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  1. Scott- you’re so biased with your opinion and your liberal righteousness that I think you’ve lost touch with objectivity and reality when spout dribble like “I have serious doubts about your ties to reality in general, and might prefer to keep you away from sharp objects.”

    I thought you were above this type of comment.


  2. Invading Iraq was a mistake & Iran is even MORE of a mistake.

    Ok.. too bad I’m 10 years too young to run for president.

    -A


  3. It’s humor, Bill. But I mean what I say in the entry: it disturbs me that there are people running for president who say (at least publicly) that invading Iraq was the right thing to do. Such people should be kept far away from the oval office, in my opinion.


  4. “you’re so biased with your opinion”

    Um, Bill, we’re all biased with our opinions. That’s what an opinion is.

    Scott,
    While I agree with your general point, I don’t think it works as a blanket statement. I think it should be clear to everyone that our (1) stated reasons and (2) method and strategy, for invading Iraq were wrong. I realize that this is basically the whole picture. I’d just say that if the President had advocated entering Iraq for humanitarian reasons (i.e. removing evil dictator that gassed his own people) or nation building reasons, and he got congressional approval, and got some more allies to join us etc., it may have not been a mistake. However, this is obviously not how it went down. So all of the Republican candidates are pig-humpers. It’s a shame that all of the Democrat candidates are too. For other reasons.


  5. It’s how politics is done, I guess. It’s always been frustrating for me that it’s not the rational, fact-based activity that I feel it should be.


  6. Wouldn’t it rule out Hillary too?

    I agree with jesusisjustalrightwithme. States reasons, method & strategy all made for this to be the gigantic blunder it has become.

    I too will not be voting for any Republicans – for President or otherwise. But I also won’t be voting for any Democrats. Leaves my choices pretty narrow in some races. But that’s the way it goes. I’ve seen what happens with the “lesser of two evils” method of picking a candidate.

    There is one exception, however, to my “no Republicans or Democrats for President” pledge. If any candidate of any party will go on record as a major platform issue to reduce the size of the Federal budget in real, 2007 dollars, I just might vote for that person. This year’s budget was what, $2.1 trillion? Find me a candidate that pledges to veto any budget of more that [insert lower number here], that person is very likely to get my vote. A nice 5% drop to $ 1.995 trillion in four years is easily do-able and should be a priority goal for anyone seeking the office of the President.

    But I’m not holding my breath…


  7. There is the distinct possibility of my voting for a non-Libertarian in the election…Russ Feingold, who in my opinion is the only brave and honest politician in his fight against the smack down on civil liberties imposed since 11 September.

    That said, I am probably going to be a single issue voter this year. The smack down on online gambling is so annoying and wrong.


  8. It wouldn’t rule out Clinton. What she tends to choke on is saying her vote to authorize force in Iraq was a mistake. The way she parses it makes plenty of sense, but doesn’t work as a sound bite: the war, as it turns out, was a mistake, but the vote to authorize force was right – given what she knew at the time. Or something like that.

    Basically no matter how she dances around it at least you’re made to understand that if she could go back in time she’d try to prevent the war in the first place.

    The Republicans to this day maintain that it was a great idea and still is. That’s nonsense. And definitely not white house material.


  9. I don’t think it’s that black and white. Was invading Iraq a mistake? No. Not by a given set of presumptions that the war would be handled a certain way. That didn’t happen so it’s easy now to sit back and ask the question and make it seem as though the anti war stance is the smarter of the two. Given how things in Iraq have gone, yes, it was a mistake. It’s really a hypothetical question as we’re basing our answers based on events that have already happened. Anyone can say “if I could go back in time . . . “. Personally, I think that’s ridiculous. I’d have more respect for Hillary if she came out and said “based on what I knew at the time it seemed like the correct decision. As it turns out, it wasn’t. I can’t turn back time or rewrite history so all I can do is try and correct the mistakes that have been made . . . blah blah blah”. I don’t feel she has anything to apologize for.

    More than all of this, though . . . we already have the war. Whether a candidate defends the start of the war or not doesn’t much matter. It’s political rhetoric one way or the other. What he or she does when they take office does. That will weigh more heavily than the rhetoric.


  10. I’d have more respect for Hillary if she came out and said “based on what I knew at the time it seemed like the correct decision. As it turns out, it wasn’t. I can’t turn back time or rewrite history so all I can do is try and correct the mistakes that have been made . . . blah blah blah”. I don’t feel she has anything to apologize for.

    I think that’s exactly what she is saying.

    Whether a candidate defends the start of the war or not doesn’t much matter.

    Here, I don’t agree. I think being able to recognize that it was a mistake means that you actually truly understand where we are. That is a requirement for coming up with a strategy to get us the F out of there with a minimum of additional disaster. It speaks to one’s grasp of Iraq reality. If you don’t see it, I can’t count on you to make sound decisions going forward.


  11. I think we’re dancing around semantics a little. I think a candidate needs to understand that the war has gone terribly wrong since sometime in to it (maybe right from the start) and that we need a strategy to end it. The start of the war is somewhat of a moot point now. Whether one thinks it was a mistake right from the begining might show that they supported the start of the war, but doesn’t necessarily disqualify them from making sound decisions about ending the war now.


  12. Um jesusisjustalrightwithme:

    Opinion – 1. a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty.
    2. a personal view, attitude, or appraisal.

    Bias-a particular tendency or inclination, esp. one that prevents unprejudiced consideration of a question; prejudice.

    Opinions and biases are not the same – opinions are derived from biases.

    Opinions can change, biases are deeper and more resistant to change.


  13. Whether one thinks it was a mistake right from the begining might show that they supported the start of the war, but doesn’t necessarily disqualify them from making sound decisions about ending the war now.

    Well, in theory, yes. But that’s kind of like saying someone who believes in unicorns could still know how to ride a horse; totally possible, but it still leaves one feeling quite uneasy when hiring them for the job.


  14. I think the opposite. I’ll take someone who knows war, and supported the war, to bring a logical end to the war over someone who simply shows distain over war. Again, we can’t go back in time so we have to deal with the situation we’re in.

    If nothing else I’ll just hope that who ever takes office has their lucky rabbit’s foot with them so he/she can rub it a few times before making any decision.

    Unicorns?


  15. I’ll take someone who knows war, and supported the war

    Yes, someone who “knows” war is, all things being equal, better than someone who does not. But having “supported” the war is not in itself a criteria for being capable of resolving our situation. In fact, as I have stated since the beginning, someone who thinks invading was a great idea shows a glaring lack of understanding of where we are and how we got here. Which of course speaks ill of their ability to know where to go next.

    someone who simply shows distain over war.

    As opposed to, what, someone who likes war? Not sure what your criticism is here.


  16. I think the criticism is that you come across more concerned that someone be focused on the past, on blaming, on pointing fingers, than you are about what they actually plan to do once in office.

    So someone says, “we made a mistake”. Well, no sh*t Sherlock! Now tell us what you plan to do about it.

    There are more facets to a candidate than their ability to point the finger at someone.


  17. Let’s hope that whom ever we either manage to elect, (or get stuck with), for a few years has a little more going for them than rubbing a rabbit’s foot for luck.
    It sounds to me that what you’ve saying, Jimi, sounds dangerously like you would support someone who knows, supports and (enjoy’s) war. How could someone this illogical ever bring about a logical end to an illogical war?
    Someone who “shows distain” for war, maybe is one who is willing to work harder to find a way around the eventual effect of a war.

    Has anyone really learned anything here??!


  18. After reading most everyone’s comments on the war as a big mistake perpetrated by the Bush administration, let’s review historical FACTS:

    1. In October 1998 Bill Clinton signed the Iraq Liberal Act.
    From Wikipedia – The Act found that Iraq had, between 1980 and 1998 (1) committed various and significant violations of International Law, (2) had failed to comply with the obligations to which it had agreed to following the Gulf War and (3) further had ignored Resolutions of the United Nations Security Council. The Act declared that it was the Policy of the United States to support “regime change.” The Act was passed 360-38 in the U.S. House of Representatives[2] and by unanimous consent in the Senate.[3] US President Bill Clinton signed the bill into law on October 31, 1998. The law’s stated purpose was: “to establish a program to support a transition to democracy in Iraq.” Specifically, Congress made findings of past Iraqi military actions in violation of International Law and that Iraq had denied entry of United Nations Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM) inspectors into its country to inspect for weapons of mass destruction. Congress found: “It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime.” On December 16, 1998, President Bill Clinton mandated Operation Desert Fox, a major four-day bombing campaign on Iraqi targets.

    2. The US first invaded Afghanistan to go directly after terrorists and their training camps.

    3. The nearly unanimous to approval to invade Iraq was based in part on this act and the belief, based on intelligence gathered over the past years (including a large portion from the Clinton administration) that weapons of mass destruction existed in Iraq. The vote to go to war passed with 100% Senate approval (including Hillary) and 90% Congressional approval. Either Bush is really smart and can fool almost all of the intelligent and enlightened people in both houses or, and more realistically, they all believed the intelligence gathered over the years was true (like Bush) and thought a preemptive strike was the best course of action. I’m also sure that the still fresh images of 9/11 and the boasting of Bin Laden and Hussein about more acts encouraged this mindset at the time.

    The decision to go to war was made by all our government and was thought to be the right thing to do at the time based on the available information at that time. The war was called “Operation Iraqi Freedom” based on the freedom act enacted by the Senate, Congress and President Clinton to establish a democracy. WMDs were only part of the reason for war. I know Democrats want to single out Bush on this issue for political purposes, but most of them also voted to go to war. The ones that voted yes and now dance around that vote rather than just saying that it was the right thing to do at the time are the politicians that should not be holding office. They are swayed by polls and opinion rather values and a vision. You never know where they stand and changing directions is their norm. Hillary really comes to mind in this area.

    Some recent polls from Zogby:
    8-28-07 54% believe the war is not lost even though the leading Congressional Democrats stated it was lost already.

    8-15-07 Bush has a 32% positive rating and the new Democratic Congress has 15% positive rating.

    9-5-07 In a 9 to 1 ratio, people polled preferred Bush’s leadership of the war than that of the current Congress headed by Pelosi and Reid. On this issue this Congress has 3% positive rating. 45% believe this Congress has handled the war worst than the previous Congress.

    Maybe the Democrats should stop living in the past and not spend most of their energy attacking a President and his staff that will be a non-factor after the election. The Democratic led Congress caved on warrant less wiretaps, troop withdrawal deadlines and the $100 billion additional funding for the surge. Looks like a lot of recent campaign promises were broken or was that just rhetoric to get elected. If their current performance is any indication of what they say and plan to accomplish in the future, why should anyone vote for a Democrat, presidential or congressional?
    As the polls show, much of the public also sees this lack action and focus on taking down Bush. Add the more positive war report today and this election may be as easy to win as once thought. The Democrats need to get their heads out of the past, ignore Bush and focus on the Republican candidates, come up with some real plans for Iraq other than quit and yes, get something done in Congress.


  19. Funny how I’m criticized about the rabbit’s foot but the Unicorn gets a pass . . . hmmph!

    Also, not only was my position mischaracterized but the position given was prefaced by a statement of assumed fact. Naughty!

    Anyway, I think the original notion is rather goofy. I think many candidates on both sides of the aisle could bring a resolution to the war . . . regardless of their initial position. That was then, this is now. There’s a huge difference politically between what one might have believed some time ago, and what they do now.


  20. I know Democrats want to single out Bush on this issue for political purposes, but most of them also voted to go to war

    Wrong. Majorities of Democrats in the house and in the senate voted against the Iraq war resolution.

    the new Democratic Congress has 15% positive rating.

    If you’d like to know why that is, you’ve already provided the answer:

    The Democratic led Congress caved on warrant less wiretaps, troop withdrawal deadlines and the $100 billion additional funding for the surge.


  21. Wrong Scott:

    For the record, the Senate vote on October 11, 2002 to go to war in Iraq was 77 yes to 23 no.

    The Democratic vote was 29 yes and 21 no.

    The majority of Democratic Senators did vote for the war.

    My source is http://archives.cnn.com/2002/ALLPOLITICS/10/11/iraq.us/

    Believe what version of liberal reality you want, but it was more than just Bush and the Republicans that wanted to invade Iraq. The Democratic party has invested most of their campaign strategy in defeat in Iraq. The preach the war is lost and should have never been started (by George Bush). Yesterday, the Democrats in the senate sounded more like they were interested in advancing Usama Bin Laden’s cause than the general who is trying to defeat Usama’s boys in Iraq.” Mistakes were made earlier in managing the war, but if the results continue to improve and turnaround, the Democrats will be in deep political trouble come election time. I think liberals are constantly angry because they’re constantly outsmarted and outwitted by a guy they think is a dimwit: George W. Bush.


  22. The nearly unanimous to approval to invade Iraq
    You apparently don’t know what “nearly unanimous” means. A majority of Congressional Dems voted against the IWR.

    Plus, you apparently don’t know what the IWR was about. It stated that assuming the president could satisfy certain conditions, he could commit troops. A number of Congresspeople who voted for the IWR indicated they did not feel that those conditions were met, and as more information comes to light, it becomes clearer that the president violated the terms of the IWR.


  23. Still harping on Bush and the past – my point has been made.


  24. And I believe my point has been made as well: any candidate who is so divorced from reality that he/she cannot admit the simple truth that it was a colossal mistake is unfit for office.


  25. …cannot admit the simple truth that it was a colossal mistake is unfit for office.

    It is an invalid claim Scott – in the “logical” sense of the word.

    The reason is because anyone can make a hindsight claim that something was a mistake if it didn’t turn out as they expected.

    Your argument is like telling someone who decides to invest, that their decision to invest was a “mistake” if their particular choices (stocks or whatever) lost money.

    Technically speaking, it was a mistake because if they had never invested at all, they would not have lost that money. But in the context of having made a decision to do something necessary, something for which at the time and with the information they had (“Hey, for the betterment of my future I should be investing my money”), was the right thing to do. The simple decision itself was not the mistake.

    The implementation of that decision was what determined whether or not it was going to turn out to be a mistake. It’s more complex than just: decision = mistake. Carrying out war is not like flipping a light switch on or off. There is no “one way” to go to war. The decision wasn’t the mistake; the planning and execution of it was the mistake.

    I think what is expected of a candidate is to say: “The way this war was planned and implemented was a mistake. It has failed; and the people at the top are to blame for it. We cannot expect to win militarily at what is essentially a political and ideological battle. Our soldiers are not supposed to fight political and foreign policy conflicts for us. They are trained to wage war on the battlefield – which they have done with exemplary skill and dedication. It is their their leadership who have failed them – and continue to do so – by forcing them into this open-ended, mission-less, neutered position amidst several warring factions. The careless and incompetent decisions from the White House have failed our military and the American people. And our Congress has also failed them by not doing its duty to rein things in when it became obvious that the military portion of our involvement in Iraq had served its purpose. Any candidate who refuses to recognize this is unfit for office.

    That is the speech that I’d like to hear a candidate make.


  26. Whoa, i’d like to hear a candidate say that as well. And frankly, I suspect at least a couple of Democrats are saying equivalent things right now.

    But I want to reiterate: I do think it’s a serious knock against one’s fitness if one looks at the Iraq debacle and still says “thank God we invaded Iraq!” Sure, anyone can be a Monday morning quarterback. But it takes a special kind of idiot to be a bad Monday morning quarterback. I don’t think it’s too stringent a criteria for the job of actual quarterback that they at least be a good Monday morning one.

    I hope I didn’t torture that metaphor beyond its usefulness.



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