Wednesday, March 07, 2007



It's time to stop the silly speculation over whether Hillary Clinton will ever apologize for her vote to start the war in Iraq -- that's just not happening (much to Hillary's credit). A far more relevant and unsettled question is what would Al Gore do to end it?

I know, Gore is not currently a candidate, but the fact is he is hovering over the race, the demand for his entry is growing, and as the USA Today/Gallup Poll that came out this week showed, he has a strong base of support to justify the speculation.

Moreover, as Eli Lake pointed out in a column in Tuesday's New York Sun, Gore has been curiously mum on the subject of withdrawal to date, in stark contrast to his full-throated opposition to the war. In a December interview with Matt Lauer, Lake notes by way of example, Gore punted on articulating his exit strategy, saying, "Well if I were president I would have the full flow of information and have and test each of these options."

The conventional wisdom, of course, assumes the anti-war Gore would at a minimum favor some kind of timeline or deadline for pulling out troops, if not going so far as to cut off funding as the hard-core base wants. But as Lake says, Gore's ongoing silence and past hawkish history suggest otherwise.
So why is it that Hollywood's favorite Democrat would need more information to make a choice everyone in his party seems to have already accepted? Look no further than Mr. Gore's September 23, 2002, address to the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco. . . In it he said that one of the reasons he opposed the intervention, was because he did not trust President Bush to stay in Iraq once the Baathist state was dismantled.

"If we go in there and dismantle them - and they deserve to be dismantled - but then we wash our hands of it and walk away and leave it in a situation of chaos, and say, ‘That's for y'all to decide how to put things back together now,' that hurts us," Mr. Gore said.

This may sound hard to believe in light of Mr. Gore's subsequent speeches, in which he played to the passions of his camp's national security Sistah Souljahs, but Mr. Gore has long had some of the feathers of a hawk. That's right, Mr. Gore is a tag 'em and bag 'em tough guy, a former vice president who endorsed the rendition of terrorists for interrogation, not to mention the bombing of Serbia and Iraq.

. . . More often than not, at least throughout Mr. Gore's career, he has been closer than most modern Democrats to the Scoop Jackson and Harry Truman tradition. Mr. Gore has been an idealist, a defender of Israel, and unafraid to deploy American force in the interest of noble American values. He voted for the first Gulf War, when there were far more leaders in his party who opposed it.
If Gore does edge closer to getting in, or gets thrust into the presidential debate as he likely will be, it will be fascinating to see which Al Gore will emerge on this critical question.

Will it be the peace-ified MoveOn version, which really is a figment of the far left's fertile, futile imagination? Or will be it muscular internationalist the record clearly shows Gore to have long been, who opposed attacking Iraq in large part because he believed it would undermine our prosecution of the war on terror in Afghanistan and elsewhere, not because he was categorically against the use of force?

Dan, you seem to be implying that people on the left would be somehow dissapointed by a Gore who is against the Iraq war but not against the use of force in any circumstance. But most people on the left think that there are circumstances for the use of force and that Afghanistan is one of them. Gore could still be a robust peace candidate, regarding Iraq, without being a pacifist and the left would accept him as such.
mike m.: that's actually not what I'm implying. My point is that Gore has historically not been in the same place on national security as a big chunk of the Democratic base, and that those pacifist liberals might be shocked to learn that Gore does not support an immediate withdrawal because of the security consequences (which may well be the case).

Now you make a fair point in saying that many Democrats who opposed the war are not generally hesitant to use force to prosecute the war on terror. It's just hard to say precisely what that proportion is, though my suspicion is (based on the tenor of the debate over the last few years) that it is not as large as you might like to think.
Dan said, "So why is it that Hollywood's favorite Democrat would need more information to make a choice everyone in his party seems to have already accepted?"

I love the way Gerstein uses a Republican talking point "Hollywood's favorite Democrat" to set up his point. The real point made (as he continues to discount Edwards and others while pushing the Hillary envelope) is - Dan Lieberman, or is it Joe Gerstein is no Democrat.
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