Richardson Gets Respect in the Blogosphere on Foreign Policy

Bill Richardson is ignored in much of the blogosphere, just as with the mainstream media. Fortunately there are forums where all the candidates can speak and be compared. Chris Bowers of MyDD sounds quite impressed with Bill Richardson while listening to the entire forum on Iraq. Bowers does not seem to have an agenda to push Richardson. Like much of the blogosphere, for reasons which escape me, MyDD is heavily pro-Edwards and Richardson was a distant third in their recent straw poll. Not having the time to listen to the forum, I’ll trust the comments from Chris Bowers, and note the background on Richardson presented:

I am currently listening to the entire forum on Iraq. Right now, I am about halfway through Clinton’s segment. So far, in the entire forum, no line struck me more than Bill Richardson’s “I would have no residual force whatsoever” in his opening statement (which he repeated in his response to question #1). With perfect clarity, that is exactly the line I have been looking for from Democratic candidates for President. It is a profound, substantive difference than what we have heard from, for example, Hillary Clinton, when she states that if she is President there will be a “remaining military as well as political mission” in Iraq. This is, in the final analysis, a difference between ending the war in Iraq, and simply decreasing the size of the war Iraq.

What really makes me happy about this statement is that it came from Bill Richardson. This is a man who, earlier today, brokered a deal with North Korea to allow weapons inspectors back into the country, and who, three months ago, brokered cease-fire deal in Darfur. To use the favorite term of neoliberal hawks, no one alive today is more “serious’ about foreign policy than Bill Richardson. And yet, here he is, running for President of the Unites States, and stating that the United States should have no residual force in Iraq whatsoever. Doesn’t he know that “serious” people aren’t supposed to say things like this?

This changes the debate on Iraq. For months, progressives have tried to make a big deal out of Clinton’s refusal to apologize for her Iraq war vote. At the same time, many candidates, not just Clinton, have claimed they are in favor of ending the war in Iraq, while simultaneously maintaining an American military presence in the country. This has been extremely problematic, since as long as the Iraq debate in the Democratic primary is still framed about the AUMF in 2002, and as long as “ending the war” in the Democratic primary means continuing it, there is ultimately no way to articulate a meaningful difference between the Democratic candidates on the future of American involvement in Iraq. Now, however, there is a clear difference, and it is one we must press.

Richardson is obviously a long shot, but if anyone has a chance of breaking out to surprise the pundits in 2008, as Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter did in the past, the one who can do that is Bill Richardson. People make a great deal out of the fact that Clinton and Carter were both southern governors. In 2008 the south will most likely belong to the Republicans, and the west will be the battleground which will determine whether Republicans are limited to support in the south. A western governor with Richardson’s background is in an ideal position for a dark horse candidate.

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