Hillary's not going to apologize

Joshua has a politics class this year, and one of his projects is to map out a victory strategy for Hillary Clinton. I've told him that the war is going to sink her, but he thinks that the war won't be the main issue in the '08 campaign. We've got a bet on that, but it will be awhile before we find out.

In the meantime, there's this kerfuffle about Hillary's refusal to "apologize" for the war vote. Joshua today sends me this NYT article that gives some background and then says that she's not going to apologize, and people who don't like it can suck it. Suck on it:
“If the most important thing to any of you is choosing someone who did not cast that vote or has said his vote was a mistake, then there are others to choose from.”

I'm impressed by her moxie, but here's the thing: This isn't some semantic quibble. This is the frustration of many people who understood that the war was a mistake from the beginning--and who were abandoned by their party where the rubber hit the road--finally bubbling to the surface.

She's sticking to losing line of John Kerry's, "If I knew then what I know now, I would not have voted for the war."

Well, fucking DUH.

Okay, so the reason so many of us are pissed is because the war looked like a disaster from the start to a significant portion of the Democratic party. I'm not just talking about pacifists, I'm talking about realists who saw the "we'll be greeted as liberators" talk as obvious, rank propaganda (or frighteningly naive). Add in the completely unconvincing SOTU and Colin Powell's dog and pony show, and the final result wasn't that we "respectfully disagreed" with the vote to authorize the war.

Instead, it looked like John Edwards, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and the rest of the Democrats who voted for the war were running scared from a very popular President on a very popular issue. In other words, it didn't seem like a principled vote at the time. If Hillary or the others had looked around, there was ample evidence that the intelligence was being cooked, that there was no real plan for the occupation, and that therefore a blank-check vote like that was a serious mistake.

I know there was ample evidence, because we blogged about it at the time.

If she can't call it a mistake, fine. But it's not that I want her to "apologize" to me or anyone else. I want her to acknowledge her questionable judgment at the time, knowing what she knew then, not what she knows now. If she wants my vote, she would help herself enormously by dealing with this issue, so I can have confidence in her future judgment.

Mark Penn says that it's a mistake to call her vote a mistake, because the mistake is the President's. But I say to Mr. Penn, there is plenty of blame to go around. He may be right... it may cost her more votes to call it a mistake than to continue with her fiction that her vote was a good one at the time. But it's not helping her with me.

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