National Review Online asked a group of commentators who sacrificed their Sunday night to CNN and the Democratic presidential lineup to comment on the debate.
Debra Burlingame Hillary Clinton’s difficult predicament on the war in Iraq was painfully evident. Now we learn that prior to her vote to authorize the war she was “thoroughly briefed” by the DOD, the CIA, outside experts, and “members of the previous administration.” It was a sincere vote, she said, based on her belief that the president would send the weapons inspectors back in to determine “once and for all” whether Saddam had WMDs. Bush misled her and everyone else, she said, because he had no intention of allowing the inspectors to “finish their job.” If he had, said Sen. Clinton, “we would have known that Saddam did not have WMD and we would not have invaded Iraq.”
Presumably, one of those who thoroughly briefed Mrs. Clinton was her own husband, who on December 16, 1998, went on national television to announce the launch of a massive military attack on Iraq after the breakdown of the inspections process, declaring that, “even if the inspectors could stay in Iraq, their work would be a sham.” Certainly Mrs. Clinton remembers that her husband called the inspections failure “a clear and present danger” to the stability of the Middle East and the safety of the world. “[I]f Saddam can cripple the weapons inspection system and get away with it,” said President Clinton, “he would conclude that the international community — led by the United States — has simply lost its will.” The attack had to be launched immediately because a delay of even a few days would allow Saddam to hide, destroy or move his stockpiles.
Whether or not her strained explanation for her Iraq vote gets her safely through primary season, pointing to the previous administration for authority on national-security issues could ultimately be a big mistake.
– Debra Burlingame is sister of Charles F. “Chic” Burlingame III, the pilot of American Airlines flight 77, which was crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11/01. She founded www.911familiesforamerica.org.
John Hood Most Americans want the Iraq war to be over. Who doesn’t? They are depressed by the loss of life and frustrated at all the mixed signals, false starts, and strategic blunders. But politicians and commentators who project their own hard-Left sentiments into the survey data are making a blunder of their own, and if most American voters had been watching the Democratic debate Sunday night, I think they would have been shocked at the extent to which most of the candidates seem desperate to win the chance to lead an ignominious retreat. That won’t be any more popular than Bush’s war strategy is. Only Joe Biden sounded like a grown-up, a role previously filled by Hillary Clinton — but no longer, thanks to her continued weakness among the Democratic base.
Of course, most American voters weren’t watching Sunday night. Virtually no undecideds were. This was really a media event for Democratic donors and online activists, and my guess would be that the aggressive John Edwards fed their hunger best and gained the most. Barack Obama is actually their first love, for the sheer concept of Mr. Obama, but again seemed clumsy and unsure of himself at times. He’s just not ready for this. As for Bill Richardson, I think he was replaced by a slightly tipsy doppelganger. Chris Dodd impressed. Dennis Kucinich made me giggle. The Flintstones character on the end, Clark Gravel or some such, provided me with helpful breaks from the action to chase down mischievous Hood children.
The good news for Democrats is that only hard-line Democrats and junkies were watching.
Terence P. Jeffrey The cable networks could do America a great favor by airing Democratic presidential debates every week.
Better yet, Dennis Kucinich should persuade the Democratic Congress to deny funding to any federal program in fiscal 2008 (other than, say, the Peace Corps, Planned Parenthood, the National Endowment for the Arts, midnight basketball, universal pre-school, and a new socialized-medicine program, etc., etc., etc.) unless President Bush signs an executive order commanding Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales to personally water-board at Guantanamo Bay every American who Barack Obama determines has an annual income of less than $250,000 and who fails to listen religiously to each and every word of the weekly Democratic debate.
CNN’s debate demonstrated there is at least one place where big government could have a salutary impact: Make people actually listen to these Democrats.
If not for the Iraq war, none of them would have any chance in 2008.
– Terry Jeffrey is editor-at-large of Human Events.