Posted by Thomas Nephew on April 24th, 2008
…on the value of this Democratic primary campaign. eRobin (“fact-esque”) and others see it differently, seeing the campaign as giving candidates a chance to hear from more voters:
…the more time they’re out there forced to compete for the votes of the people who want to hear about the candidates’ schemes to reverse the damage of the BushCo years, the better off the Democrats are for November.
In the abstract, I’d agree. Here, now, and with respect, I don’t, because I guess I’m not seeing the campaign they’re seeing.
The campaign I’m seeing features Hillary slingshotting rightward off of questions about flag lapel pins, the Iranian nuclear threat — remember, there isn’t one — and appearances and “toughness” generally. What people are likely to remember from Pennsylvania primary isn’t energy policy or college tuition support, but belligerent statements on Iran, “can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen”, and the hideous ABC debate (regardless of the crowd outside). The outcome will be either to bloody nominee Obama, or coronate nominee Clinton by overturning the pledged delegate and popular vote count via party elders… like herself. Yes, that would be nominally legit. No, it wouldn’t be good.
I’m particularly appalled by Clinton’s Iran war drum beating and her bizarre extension of a nuclear umbrella over not just Israel — which has its own nuclear weapons — but other Middle East countries. And for using Good Morning America to do it. I gave her the benefit of the doubt once about falling for hypotheticals (re the so-called “ticking time bomb” scenario); no more. Congratulations all around — Charles Krauthammer’s “Slim Pickens” fantasy is only two weeks old and already it’s taking shape as future U.S. policy.
In so doing, Hillary has all but single handedly revived the Iranian hardliner position for getting a deterrent of their own. And here’s the beauty part (if you’re a “Left Behind” fan or a Likudnik, that is): all without even trying to get a nuclear free zone including Israel in the Middle East — the only way I’d want an American president to even consider such a step. But wait, that’s not all: she’s also hemming and hawing about how Iran may be undeterrable — something that was a critical (il)logical* step to getting us into the Iraq War.
I surely won’t be pleased about it, but Clinton being more “likely to be bamboozled into another war” may (unfortunately) turn out to be the most accurate assessment I’ve ever made for the record. For all her vaunted experience, the closer I look at her Iran statements, and the more I think about them, the much worse she looks: like someone who is play-acting tough, and like someone who’s playing with fire.
If this kind of talk is punished at the polls, I’ll stand corrected that the Democratic primaries are serving a higher purpose. As it is, McCain could — if he were smart, and so inclined — flank Clinton from the left and undermine her “experience” bullet point with a variation on the “in your heart you know she’s nuts” strategy. After all, he just joked “bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran.” She was in earnest. She was talking about using nuclear weapons. And not even in retaliation for an attack on this country.
I’d like her not to.
* Obligatory “by me too.” NOTE: The embedded video collection above includes four clips substantiating the statements about Iran I’m attributing to Senator Clinton. Re Iranian undeterrability, she says in the Olbermann interview “I don’t buy that”, nosirree, but leaves that qualifier out in the Schaefer interview, inviting those viewers to believe the mad mullahs are all itching for a nucular showdown someday.
UPDATE, 4/25: Transcript of 4/23 Clinton exchange with Andrea Schaefer on “Morning Joe” (4th clip in embedded video above). Also, for how two experts think Iran should be addressed, tune in to this bloggingheads.tv dialogue between ISIS Jackie Shire and Ploughshares Fund’s Joe Cirincione.
UPDATE, 5/4: Transcripts of the key parts of all 3 Hillary Clinton clips above (Cuomo=1st clip, Olbermann=2d clip, Schaefer=4th clip) are now here: Cuomo interview (“obliterate”), Olbermann interview (“would provoke a nuclear response”), Schaefer interview (“facts on the ground have changed”). The note above now specifies which interview is which.
UPDATE, 5/28: The Olbermann clip is no longer available in the video collection embedded above.