I am in the throes of completing two papers, so I've got to squeeze in the daily post. On this Last Stand Tuesday, I have a few random political thoughts.
1. Obama's response to Hillary's red phone ad raises a question about the left's judgment on foreign policy. When I was a kid, Democrats fought with other over who was first to jump ship on Vietnam as if opposition to the war was clearly right from the outset and early resistance was a sign of intelligence and moral clarity. Maybe.
We see the same thing on Iraq but it seems even less appropriate. Two administrations thought that Iraq was a state sponsor of terrorism (it was) and that it had an ongoing WMD program. This view was largely shared by intelligence agencies around the world. Saddam had a history of aggression and the sanctions regime was, for a variety of reasons, problematic. 9-11 had made terrorism a more salient issue - it had shown what these groups will and can do - and had highlighted the particular evil that runs through the Middle East - call it Islamofascism, Militant Islam, etc. That evil is not limited to the person of Osama Bin Laden and his associates.
In light of that, Bush and many Democrats chose to take Saddam out. We can debate the wisdom of that (at the time I thought it was an exceptionally close call) and, in hindsight, can argue that certain things that everyone believed to be true were not and that we "should have" known this. (The argument that "Bush lied" is specious.) Quite possibly, that knowledge would have tipped the balance against invasion.
But Illinois State Senator Barack Obama had no access to any information that anyone else did not have. His suggestion over the weekend that Hillary Clinton "did not read" the NIE and his implication that, if anyone had, they would have voted "no" is silly (and, as it turns out, was inaccurate in other ways.) The available intelligence and then current circumstances suggested that Saddam posed a serious problem in a number of ways (WMDs being one of them) and Illinois State Senator Obama knew no more about that - and probably a good deal less - than others who came to the conclusion that the invasion was warranted.
Obama's "early" opposition to the war seems far more likely to reflect a greater predisposition against the use of force than superior judgment. As a general matter, candidates with that predisposition have not done well in US presidential elections or, for that matter, as foreign policy Presidents.
2. In response to one of my posts on the politics of Obama's response to Louis Farrakhan's endorsement, some readers brought up John Hagee's endorsement of John McCain. I said that McCain should throw Hagee under the bus. He hasn't adequately done so. What that means for me, however, is better put by my old law school classmate Robby George (although I barely knew him)posted at Mirror of Justice.
3. The movement seems to be toward Hillary right now. Unless the pollsters have turnout misfigured, it looks like she may win in Ohio and fight to a draw in Texas (where she might get shorted on delegates). If that happens, is there any way it doesn't come down to Pennsylvania and a nasty battle over Michigan and Florida? The longer this lasts may hurt Obama because it increases the window of opportunity for his bubble to burst before the nomination is settled. Or maybe it does because it narrows the window of time for McCain to define him at a time when people are listening.
But I still think he puts her out today.