Clinton Attacks on Iraq

To add to what Ezra Klein says about the new round of Iraq-related attacks Hillary Clinton is making on Barack Obama, my issue here is that I don't understand what point her campaign is trying to make. Has Obama been less of a consistent, strong anti-war leader than I would have liked? Unquestionably, yes. It seems that between the time he entered the Senate and the time he started gearing up to run for President, he adopted a pretty cautious political strategy when I wish he had adopted a bold one. That said, Russ Feingold's not his opponent. Hillary Clinton is.

Is she trying to argue that her view on Iraq has been to Obama's left? Seemingly not. After all, she supported the war and he didn't, and all the things she's criticizing him for doing are also things she did.

Is she trying to argue that, Iraq aside, she has a forward-looking vision for US policy to the Middle East that anti-war voters should find more compelling? I wish she were arguing this. I think Barack Obama's campaign has laid out some good ideas in terms of a forward-looking vision, but that there's plenty of room for improvement on what he's done. It wouldn't be hard for Clinton to do better if she wanted to. But thus far she hasn't. Instead, on every issue where I can see daylight between them (non-proliferation policy, Cuba policy, meetings with foreign leaders, residual forces in Iraq, nuclear first strikes on Pakistan, grand bargain with Iran), Obama is somewhat better. But he's vulnerable, Clinton could easily undercut his anti-war appeal with bold thinking on some of these forward-looking issues. Instead, though, her campaign keeps going back to efforts to muddy the waters around who did what in the fall of 2002.

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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