Bill Richardson on Iraq

I really want to like Bill Richardson, thinking that someone with his experience and potential to bring in support from the west could be of value. I’ve noted some of his more libertarian positions, and gave him credit for supporting legalization of medicinal marijuana. Despite his experience, far too often his campaign appears to not yet be ready for prime time.

Ryan Lizza criticizes Richardson’s use of the Iraq war.  Just as I was unimpressed with Edwards’ attempt to use Iraq in the New Hampshire debate, I do not see Ricardson gaining any ground by exaggerating differences between himself and his opponents.

This is not to say that Richardson does not deserve some attention for his push to get all the troops out more quickly than advocated by most of the other candidates. I just do not believe that such details matter in winning the nomination. The situation on the ground may be different than it is now, and some flexibility is needed once we have a President who is willing to engage in diplomacy while pursuing a reasonable exit strategy.

I do not believe voters care for the specifics as much as wanting to be certain that the next President will concentrate on getting us out of Iraq as opposed to maintaining the present course. On issues such as the details of leaving Iraq, it also might be better to simply say you’ve changed your mind as opposed to running the risk of appearing to be hiding such a change in the minds of reporters such as Lizza.

Update: A Richardson supporter has defended Richardson from Lizza’s criticism. He makes a sound argument that Richardson has maintained the same views against the war, has wanted to go beyond Reid-Feingold, and that the campaign simply removed reference to Reid-Feingold after it failed as it was no longer on the table.

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