"Admitting" A Mistake

If I may say something nice about Hillary Clinton for a minute, I think things like this attack from Will Saletan are kind of unfair:

Five years ago, Hillary Clinton supported a Senate resolution authorizing President Bush to use force in Iraq. So did I. It took me four years to admit this was a mistake. I've been wondering when Clinton would admit it. Now, from campaign insiders quoted in the New York Times, comes the answer: never. As she told voters a few days ago: "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."

This is an amazingly stupid and arrogant position. If she sticks to it, it will probably kill her candidacy. And it should.

From where I sit, the issue here isn't that Clinton, unlike Saletan (or me) isn't willing to "admit" that supporting the war resolution was a mistake. The issue is that she doesn't think it was a mistake and she doesn't want to pretend otherwise. Clinton's executive power theory of why she votes the right way ("She believes in executive authority and Congressional deference, her advisers say, and is careful about suggesting that Congress can overrule a commander in chief") seems very plausible to me. When liberals are trying to get conservatives to worry about executive power one line a lot of us use is you realize Hillary Clinton may be president some day, right? But from Clinton's point of view, she may be president some day. What's more, as someone who was First Lady for much longer than she'd been a Senator at the time of the vote, it's natural that she would have a great deal of appreciation for the president's-eye-view take on the matter.

This isn't to say that voting for the war was the right thing to do. But there's every reason to think she thinks it was the right thing to do. She's not refusing to "admit" anything; she's just saying what she thinks.