Apparently, Hillary Clinton who has not made being an “anti-war” candidate is not supposed to question the record of Barack Obama who has made this his platform. To do so is an “attack” or a “smear.” That’s ludicrous in my opinion.
Barack Obama came to the Senate in as a candidate who opposed the war in Iraq. Yet, given the opportunity to oppose the war on many occassions once in the Senate, he did not. A look at his Senate and campaign websites show clearly that there are inconsistencies on his claims and his records. The Clinton campaign has pointed this out and they’ve been slammed for it. The Obama campaign’s pushback on this yesterday claimed that “Sen. Obama and Hillary have “clearly different” records on Iraq since Sen. Obama joined the Senate.” That is not the truth and their are many inconsistencies in Obama’s push back. Their voting records are the same with the exception that Obama voted to confirm Gen. George Casey and Hillary did not.
Hillary Clinton is not denying her voting record is in fact no different than Obama’s. And she’s not running as the “anti-war” candidate. What she is doing is asking voters to take a good look at Obama’s record and note that he’s not walking the talk. Two points on Obama’s campaign website stand out for me as inconsistent with the facts. On BarackObama.com it says, “Obama has been a consistent, principled and vocal opponent of the war in Iraq.” And they highlight this:
- In 2005, he called for a phased withdrawal of our troops;
- In 2006, he called for a timetable to remove our troops, a political solution within Iraq, and aggressive diplomacy with all of Iraq’s neighbors;
The 2005 call for “phased withdrawal of the troops” refers to this speech at the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations: “Moving Forward in Iraq.” In the speech, Obama did indeed call for a “phased withdrawal” of sorts, but his call included a caveat (emphasis mine):
First and foremost, after the December 15 elections and during the course of next year, we need to focus our attention on how reduce the U.S. military footprint in Iraq. Notice that I say “reduce,” and not “fully withdraw.”
But after that speech, Obama did nothing to back up his call. He put no legislation before the Senate and, as I have noted here in the past, including yesterday, when given the opportunity to vote for a real piece of legislation calling for phased withdrawal on June 22, 2006, the Kerry – Feingold amendment, Barack Obama voted against it, offering this floor speech outlining his reasoning the day before the vote. In a nutshell, Obama opted to co-sponsor the weaker Levin amendment.
So Obama, in fact once in the Senate moved to a more centrist position as Matt Yglesias points out saying, that in “gearing up to run for President, he adopted a pretty cautious political strategy.”
Hillary Clinton is not “attacking” Obama on Iraq, as Yglesias and others claim, she’s simply saying, look at the record, because he’s not positioned himself in the Senate as “anti-war” and his voting record does not back up his claims. Valid point, well taken and Clinton has every right to say to voters, that Obama’s claims don’t hold up.
Yesterday after Hillary Clinton’s Meet The Press appearance, I was on a press call with the Clinton camp. Clinton spokesman Jamie Rubin had this to say about Obama’s push back after Meet The Press:
“The argument that Obama has shown unique judgment [on Iraq] has belied the truth. Nothing differentiates Obama’s positions from Clinton’s.”
And Congressman McGovern added what many have been pointing out, “Obama’s record once in the Senate is not consistent with his  speech” against the war.
Andrea Mitchell of NBC News said after a question to the Clinton camp, there is “no question that he voted the same as she did.”
Congressman Jim McGovern also said towards the end of the call that getting out of Iraq is a ” complicated and dangerous business.” He said that Hillary Clinton is approaching this responsibly and added, as the member of Congress to call for withdrawwal from Iraq, there was “No way in hell I would be with Hillary if I didn’t believe she would end this war.”
Finally, I will add, that Matt Yglesias contends that Obama has a better plan to get us out of Iraq. I disagree. Readers can compare and decide:
Taylor Marsh has more on the Clinton – Obama Iraq feud.