The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Hillary and Edwards, Starting to Square Off Over Iraq


Edwards / HillaryThe debate about the “surge” on Capitol Hill seems surreal to many of us. I’m hearing on CNN International and the BBC that the President faces “stiff opposition” in Congress, but that stiff opposition amounts to a non-binding resolution opposing the move. Yawn. Wake me when the opponents of the war are a) actually willing to cut off funding, to take actual action to prevent the surge from occurring and b) actually discuss another course of action. If they want a withdrawal, wake me when they actually discuss the consequences of a U.S. withdrawal to the people of Iraq and the surrounding region.


Apparently I’m not the only one noticing a sizable gap between surge opponents’ rhetoric and their actions. John Edwards made it the centerpiece of his speech Sunday:

Forty years ago, almost to the month, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood at this pulpit, in this house of God, and with the full force of his conscience, his principles and his love of peace, denounced the war in Vietnam, calling it a tragedy that threatened to drag our nation down to dust.


As he put it then, there comes a time when silence is a betrayal — not only of one’s personal convictions, or even of one’s country alone, but also of our deeper obligations to one another and to the brotherhood of man…


If you’re in Congress and you know this war is going in the wrong direction, it is no longer enough to study your options and keep your own counsel. Silence is betrayal. Speak out, and stop this escalation now. You have the power to prohibit the president from spending any money to escalate the war – use it.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s spokesman responded, but the words were awfully mild to earn the headline, “HILL JABS AT JOHN” in the New York Post.

“In 2004, John Edwards used to constantly brag about running a positive campaign. Today, he has unfortunately chosen to open his campaign with political attacks on Democrats who are fighting the Bush administration’s Iraq policy,” said Clinton adviser Howard Wolfson.

In fact, never mind “jabs”; doesn’t this statement sound rather… whiny? Edwards’s speech was a political “attack”? Isn’t it… well, criticism? A call to action? Articulating a position, and arguing why it is better than the alternatives?


What kind of Nerf rules are going to be in effect for the Democratic presidential primary, if Edwards’ remarks constitute some sort of out-of-bounds infraction?

Tags: Barack Obama , Bill Richardson , Chris Dodd , Fred Thompson , Hillary Clinton , Horserace , Joe Biden , John Edwards , John McCain , Mike Huckabee , Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich , Rudy Giuliani , Sarah Palin , Something Lighter , Tommy Thompson


Subscribe to National Review