By David Swanson
This is what it’s come to. The local newspaper in my town in Virginia today ran an op-ed by rightwinger Cal Thomas attacking Hillary Clinton for her past support for the war. Thomas began by criticizing Clinton for pretending she had never supported the war, but the bulk of his column blamed her simply for supporting it and for falling for the lies that Bush had used to sell it:
“One wonders what took such a smart woman until January 2007 in Iowa to conclude that she had been duped. And, one wonders: If she can be misled by so many people in whom she has confidence, how will she be able to see clearly as president?”
Along with this column, the paper printed a cartoon from the San Antonio Express News that shows Hillary with a “Hillary 08” button thinking “He’s not the only one I wish would go away.” She’s reading an article about Obama, and walking up behind her is another Hillary labeled “Pro-War Hillary.”
This is what it has come to. But this is also the 2004 Presidential election in a nutshell. The media, punditry, and paid strategists told elected officials they needed to back the war if they wanted to run for president. The media labeled anyone who did a “major” candidate and avoided mentioning any candidates who voted against the war. Then, as the election neared, and citizens began to make their voices heard, each of those pro-war candidates was compelled to explain how he was against the war. Granted, almost no one alive could manage a worse job of this than John Kerry. But why go through it at all?
Obama is in fact more on an anti-war candidate than were the media’s preferred candidates in ’04. But he opposes the war without being willing to use the power of Congress to limit the use of funds. He is playing games with us, while people are dying every day, Iraqis and Americans in Iraq. Former Senator Edwards is not bound by the constraints of party discipline and cliquish Hill organizing, and yet he has failed thus far as well to call for an end to the war funding. He has, however, admitted that he supported the war and was wrong to do so. That’s two steps ahead of Hillary. Former Vice President Al Gore, likewise, is failing to lead on the war.
If we must have a Senator, then let’s figure out how we can persuade Russ Feingold to run. But why not a house member? Why not the man who IS leading the way on virtually every issue and who posted a detailed exit plan for Iraq on his website over three years ago, Dennis Kucinich?
Dennis is the candidate we should be talking about. Figuring out how to get over our prejudice about his height is going to be a hell of a lot easier than figuring out how to get Hillary to oppose wars. But, above all, let’s stop talking about an election that’s two years away, when the current Congress has only been in office a month and has yet to do more than a couple of days’ worth of work. Citizen activism limited to elections is democracy drained of its soul. We need to pressure this Congress to remember the 2006 election, and we can’t do that if we’re focused on 2008.
In fact, the current Congress is taking its sweet time about investigating the past six years of crimes by Bush and Cheney, because it believes it has two years to work with, and the hundreds of thousands who will die at the hands of the Bush Administration during that time be damned. We don’t have two years. We can’t waste 20% of the 10 years scientists say we have to reverse global warming or wreck the Earth. We have a few months in which to get impeachment underway, or the looming election will block it. And I, for one, am going to back for president whoever leads the way to impeachment.
But it’s going to be useful for Congress Members and Senators to bear in mind what’s been done to Hillary and all the other weak-kneed warmongering Democrats. Because they will be told that they must back a war on Iran and continuation of the occupation of Iraq, and voters will never ever stand for it.