Early in this presidential race, Senator Barack Obama abandoned his promise to run a positive campaign by labelling Senator Hillary Clinton with the ultimate insult to a Democrat: he called her “Bush/Cheney Lite”. The reason? Only one issue, which he has repeated over and over (in lieu of a real foreign policy debate): that she voted for the authorization of force in 2002, an authorization which was promised as leverage to get UN inspectors back into Iraq, but which was hijacked by the Bush administration to wage a unilateral war.
In 2004, Democrats rallied around our own party’s hero in war and peace: Senator John Kerry. Much has been made of Kerry’s support for Obama this election season (support which, even with Ted Kennedy thrown in, did not win the state of Massachussets for Obama). But there’s a puzzling double-standard here.
John Kerry voted for the war authorization in 2002. Not only that; according to the statistical rankings at ProgressivePunch.org, Kerry has voted with Republicans against Democrats more often than Senator Clinton on issues of war and peace – he ranks 45th of 100 senators in that category where she ranks a more progressive 34th. And that’s her most conservative ranking; on many domestic categories she’s tied with the most progressive members of the Senate.
I supported and voted for John Kerry in 2004, as did all progressives and Democrats. So my question to Senator Obama is: why don’t you call him Bush/Cheney Lite as well? And to all of you Democrats who have taken the bait and vilified Clinton without even reading her Senate floor remarks or examining her very progressive voting record: are you ready to throw Kerry, Biden, Edwards, and everyone else who voted for the authorization under the bus as well, and label them as lite Republicans, when clearly the fault of this war lies not with them but with the reckless Bush administration?
Or could it be that the transparently cynical exploitation of this as a wedge issue might actually wear a little thin if you stop sloganeering, and think about it? After all, before she resigned, Obama’s own top foreign policy advisor Samantha Power basically admitted that everything he’s said about Iraq as a presidential candidate may never actually happen.
I’ll take Hillary’s consistently strong and realistic stance on Iraq today over Obama’s hypocritical waffling and polarization of our party. And I’ll continue to support Hillary, a more progressive Senator than John Kerry, with all my heart in 2008.
Cross-posted at Pan Metron.