OBAMA AND IRAQ….Barack Obama today:
There is a choice that has emerged in this campaign, one that the American people need to understand. They should ask themselves: who got the single most important foreign policy decision since the end of the Cold War right, and who got it wrong. This is not just a matter of debating the past. It’s about who has the best judgment to make the critical decisions of the future.
This is absolutely a fair point. Still, over at MyDD, Todd Beeton wonders whether Obama is getting anywhere by harping on this so relentlessly:
I love the fact that he’s using his name and vast organization to rally thousands of people nationwide against the war….But will it really do anything to change the dynamic of the race? I’m not convinced. First off, it’s quite apparent that Obama has been able to gain exactly zero momentum from his good judgment 5 years ago, so it’s a big question mark in my mind as to whether he’ll be able to translate the rallies into more support at this point.
I’m seeing echoes of 2004 here, when John Kerry apparently thought that if he just talked about his record as a Vietnam vet often enough it would innoculate him against charges of being soft on national security. Needless to say, it didn’t work. This time around, Obama seems to think that if he tells people often enough that he was against the Iraq war back in 2002, it’s going to give him a big leg up against Edwards and Clinton, who voted in favor of it.
But Todd seems to be right: there’s no evidence that this is getting him anywhere. Maybe it’s unfair, but being “right” five years ago just doesn’t seem to be a winning pitch. In a way, that doesn’t surprise me. Most people react negatively to blowhards who are always reminding their friends about how smart they were on some previous occasion, and maybe that’s how this sounds to a lot of people. Especially people who themselves might have supported the war back in 2002 and don’t really appreciate being reminded about it.
I don’t know. I’m just guessing here. But bragging about your good judgment might be a very different thing than bragging about a concrete achievement. On this score, Hillary Clinton’s decision to cosponsor legislation preventing military operations against Iran without congressional approval seems pretty smart.