OBAMA ON THE WAR….One more note about yesterday’s Democratic debate. I haven’t watched every speech Barack Obama has given, so maybe I’ve missed this in the past, but it struck me that last night, for the first time, he edged closer to making the real case for why his 2002 opposition to the Iraq war is important. He’s previously argued that this is an example of his superior judgment, but on Thursday he went a bit further:
I was opposed to Iraq from the start. And that — and I say that not just to look backwards but also to look forwards, because I think what the next president has to show is the kind of judgment that will ensure that we are using our military power wisely.
This is the right idea, but it strikes me that Obama really needs to make this argument more explicit. The last time a U.S. president faced an unexpected crisis, he panicked and pushed us into a disastrous and unneeded war. Senator Clinton went along with him. We can’t afford for that to happen again. The next time terrorism tests a president, we need someone in the White House who won’t panic, someone who has the confidence and judgment to keep from being pushed into bluster and bombs as their first option, etc. etc.
For obvious reasons I’ll leave the speechwriting to someone else. But you get the idea. Obama always sidles right up to the edge of this argument, but he never seems to be quite willing to make it explicitly. But if judgment is his key selling point, he needs to make it clear that he thinks Hillary’s judgment will — somehow, someday — lead us into unnecessary military adventures in the future. Ditto for whoever wins the Republican nomination. I know it seems like this is the obvious implication of what he normally says, but sometimes implication isn’t enough. He needs to come right out and say it.