One major difference between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama is that on the biggest foreign policy question of recent years Clinton got it wrong and Obama got it right. Throughout the campaign Clinton and her supporters have tried to obfuscate this fact, realizing that it totally undermines her claims of being the more experienced candidate on foreign policy. Experience doesn’t count for much when you get it wrong.
Jake Tapper reports that Clinton is up to it again. First she plays a game similar to her attempts to claim certain states don’t count in the nomination battle as she tries to limit what should be considered with regards to Iraq:
In Eugene, Ore., Saturday. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., attempted to change the measure by which anyone might assess who criticized the Iraq war first, her or Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., by saying those keeping records should start in January 2005, when Obama joined the Senate. (A measure that conveniently avoids her October 2002 vote to authorize use of force against Iraq at a time that Obama was speaking out against the war.) She claimed that using that measure, she criticized the war in Iraq before Obama did.
But Clinton’s claim was false.
Clinton on Saturday told Oregonians, “when Sen. Obama came to the Senate he and I have voted exactly the same except for one vote. And that happens to be the facts. We both voted against early deadlines. I actually starting criticizing the war in Iraq before he did.”
It’s an odd way to measure opposition to the war — comparing who gave the first criticism of the war in Iraq starting in January 2005, ignoring Obama’s opposition to the war throughout 2003 and 2004. (And Clinton’s vote for it.)
This is a bit more flagrant, but is essentially what we have been hearing all along. Clinton has tried to downplay Obama’s opposition to the war and creat a false equivalence between support for the war before it began and votes on funding measures once the war was underway. However it gets worse for Clinton. Just as her earlier argument that the nomination battle is about delegates worked against her, this argument on Iraq also favors Obama:
But even if one were to employ this “Start Counting in January 2005″ measurement, Clinton did not criticize the war in Iraq first.
Scrambling to support their boss’s claim, Clinton campaign officials pointed to a paper statement Clinton issued on Jan. 26, 2005, explaining her vote to confirm Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State.
“The Administration and Defense Department’s Iraq policy has been, by any reasonable measure, riddled with errors, misstatements and misjudgments,” the January 2005 Clinton statement said. “From the beginning of the Iraqi war, we were inadequately prepared for the aftermath of the invasion with too few troops and an inadequate plan to stabilize Iraq.”
But Obama offered criticisms of the war in Iraq eight days before that, directly to Rice, in his very first meeting as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Jan. 18.
Obama pushed Rice on her answers to previous questioners regarding the effectiveness of Iraqi troops, and he criticized the administration for conveying a never-ending commitment to a US troop presence in Iraq.
Tapper provides more information on Obama’s criticism of the war and argues, “The misrepresentation of the record is symbolic of the re-writing of history Clinton has attempted on her record regarding the war in Iraq.” He argues further that this episode of dishonesty form Clinton is part of a larger trend.