Obama Turns Lieberman-Kyl Into A Weapon, Part II

Here's part one.

No longer can we write that Barack Obama is unwilling to make a frontal, sustained, critical argument against the election of Hillary Clinton, an argument that ties her 2002 Iraq vote to a current issue, unfolding in real time.

"Senator Clinton is the only Democratic candidate for president who supports this amendment,” Obama said in Des Moines today, according to excerpts of his speech provided by his campaign.

“She said, like she did five years ago, that it is a way to support diplomacy. I disagree. We all know that Iran poses a threat. We do need to mount international pressure to stop Iran’s nuclear program. We do need to tighten sanctions on the Iranian regime – particularly on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, which supports terrorism. But this must be done separately from any saber-rattling about checking Iranian influence with our military presence in Iraq.”


“I don’t want to give this President any excuse, or any opening for war." “Because as we learned with the authorization of the Iraq War – when you give this President a blank check, you can’t be surprised when he cashes it.”


“Senator Clinton makes a different argument,” Obama said. “She says that she wasn’t really voting for war back in 2002, she was voting for more inspections, or she was voting for more diplomacy. But all of us know what was being debated in the Congress in the fall of 2002. We didn’t need to authorize a war in order to have United Nations weapons inspections. No one thought Congress was debating whether or not to conduct diplomacy. The headlines on October 12, 2002 did not read: ‘Congress authorizes diplomacy with Iraq’ – the headlines on October 12, 2002 read ‘Congress backs war.’”

The biggest push-back: Obama is sincere about this, it's clear -- but why didn't he say it when the amendment came up? If the amendment was so dangerous, why wasn't he in the Senate leading the fight against it? Why did he skip the vote?

Part III -- Later today, Obama's objections to Lieberman-Kyl, in depth.

Presented by

Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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