In Defense of Hillary... Sort of
December 2nd, 2005
Rick Moran

If you look very closely, you can see patches of ice forming along the banks of the River Styx. Charon, the ferryman, is seriously contemplating trading in his flat bottomed boat for an ice breaker, while he worries that soon some of the recently departed will be able to simply walk across the river without paying him and enter the afterlife, leaving the ferryman holding the bag so to speak.

In fact, there’s a decided chill in the air in hell these days. I say this because Hillary Clinton’s recent comments about Iraq actually make some sense and are worthy of serious consideration.

Now before many of my right-leaning friends stage an intervention and try to get me to voluntarily commit myself for 6 months of aromatherapy, let me make matters worse by saying I don’t believe that what Hillary is trying to accomplish is necessarily a poll-driven exercise in moderation. In fact, while her continued support for the war has more qualifiers than a pill bottle’s warning label, I would like to point out that she is opposed to a rigid timetable for withdrawal and in support of pretty much the same formula for victory that President Bush has recently outlined.

If this is a calculated move on her part to make herself more acceptable to the broad middle in American politics, I should remind you that she is agreeing with a President with a 42% approval rating, a man who demonstrably is in trouble with those same middle of the road Americans that are absolutely necessary to achieve victory in any race for the White House.

And Clinton has demonstrated a refreshing independence from what should be her natural base – the hard left Democrats who now stalk her fundraisers with protest signs against the Iraq war. The anger generated among this constituency for her continued support of the war has some Democratic strategists wondering whether Senator Clinton is hurting her chances to win the nomination. These very same activists hurling invective at the former First Lady are usually the determining factor in choosing the Democratic nominate for President every four years. And many of them have made it crystal clear that any candidate who voted for the war’s authorization need not come ‘round at primary time, hat in hand, trying to win their affections.

Those activists overstate their influence with Hillary. Given her rock star status and proven ability to raise huge sums of money, if Senator Clinton chooses to run in 2008 I daresay she will be able to call upon the best and brightest in the Democratic party to staff her campaign as well as energize enough of the base to overcome the opposition of the cut-and-run crowd.

So if Hillary’s recent statements of support for continuing the war through as she has said, to an “honorable” victory aren’t purely a matter of repositioning herself toward the middle, it could very well be that the wife of the greatest prevaricator to ever occupy the White House could, in fact, mean what she says on Iraq.

And why not? Clinton’s statements before a women’s group this past Monday sounded like any reasonable American defending our commitment to Iraq:

The New York Democrat said she respects Rep. Jack Murtha, D-Pa., the Vietnam veteran and hawkish ex-Marine who last week called for an immediate troop pullout. But she added: “I think that would cause more problems for us in America.”

“It will matter to us if Iraq totally collapses into civil war, if it becomes a failed state the way Afghanistan was, where terrorists are free to basically set up camp and launch attacks against us,” she said.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because that is exactly what the President has been saying for more than two years.

And her critique of the intelligence fiasco leading up to the war, while reliably anti-Bush, stops well short of the “Bush lied” theme adopted by many of the more radical elements in her party:

“I take responsibility for my vote, and I, along with a majority of Americans, expect the president and his administration to take responsibility for the false assurances, faulty evidence and mismanagement of the war…”

And when she visited Iraq last summer, she certainly didn’t sound like a defeatist:

“The concerted effort to disrupt the elections was an abject failure. Not one polling place was shut down or overrun,” Clinton told reporters inside the U.S.-protected Green Zone, a sprawling complex of sandbagged buildings surrounded by blast walls and tanks. The zone is home to the Iraqi government and the U.S. Embassy…

…The fact that you have these suicide bombers now, wreaking such hatred and violence while people pray, is to me, an indication of their failure,” Clinton said.

I think it safe to say that Hillary Clinton, while remaining a fiercely partisan Democrat, has been one of President Bush’s more reliable Democratic supporters of his war policies. Considering the statements and actions of some other Democrats who voted for the war like John Kerry and John Edwards, Hillary’s position on Iraq has been a model of bi-partisan cooperation. She said as much in her speech on Monday:

She blamed the problems facing the United States in Iraq on “poor decision-making by the administration,” but added: “My view is we have to work together to fix these problems.”

The fact that Mrs. Clinton’s steady support for the war flies in the face of the conventional wisdom on the right that her advocacy is a cynical move toward the political center does a disservice, I believe, both to her and other Democrats that the President needs desperately, in order to maintain our commitment to Iraq. If the long-shot chances of the Democrats to win back the Senate next year come to fruition, the President is going to need the support of Senator Clinton and others to prevent the cut and run Democrats from taking over Iraq policy.

And even if the Republicans, as expected, maintain control of both Houses of Congress, Hillary Clinton’s voice will be even more important given the media attention that will begin in anticipation of the 2008 Presidential race.

Does this mean that conservatives may want to consider supporting Hillary for President in 2008? Don’t worry, the weather forecast for hell is calling for drastically warming temperatures followed by a heat wave in the very near future.

Rick Moran is a frequent contributor and is proprietor of the blog Right Wing Nut House