Warner Improves His Message On Iraq
Warner with Iowa State Representative Mark Davitt yesterday (AP photo)
I mentioned to you several months ago that I had liked what I saw from former Virginia governor Mark Warner as a potential 2008 Democratic nominee, and had already made a small donation to his campaign. Subsequent to those initial observations, I told you that I was unhappy with his evolving answers to the Iraq question, and that it appeared he was positioning himself to be an electable centrist candidate for the general election, as if he didn't first have to make it through the Democratic primaries and offer a critique at least of what will turn out to be the biggest foreign policy mistake in this country’s history. Giving Bush a free pass won’t cut it, and no amount of “let’s move on and talk happy thoughts about the future” bullsh*t is a recipe for getting ground up, no matter how capable you are, or how well you would do as a president in post-Bush America.
I am encouraged to say that Warner is improving in this area.
Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner said in Iowa Thursday that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld should resign, joining some other Democrats eyeing the 2008 presidential nomination.
But by saying Rumsfeld should step down, he set himself apart from other potential presidential candidates in his party, including New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack.
"The line of mistakes in this war is almost unprecedented," he told The Des Moines Register, including "the failure to make a change in the architect in Rumsfeld, with unprecedented calls for his resignation from the armed services — and those are just the public calls."
Warner, who has not yet visited those war zones, said Thursday the U.S. military cannot say now when it expects to have troops out of Iraq. But he said it must take "weeks, not months, on seeing a formation of this (Iraqi) government."
"How do we get Iraq to a level of stability that we can exit?" Warner said.
Much better. He has moved towards the Murtha and Kerry positions of getting redeployed now out of the hot spots and out of the country, and pressuring the Iraqis to step up now and shoulder responsibility for their future. And as the story suggests, Warner is calling for something that even Hillary has not called for yet.
As encouraged as I am about his evolution in Warner’s position, it still shows that he misunderstands or doesn’t want to say publicly the obvious, that Bush can’t dump Rumsfeld because to do so would be to fire himself. And Bush never admits failure. Furthermore, Democrats should move off the Rumsfeld talk and instead remind voters that the persons ultimately responsible for this colossal blunder are the president and vice-president themselves.
Nevertheless, I applaud Warner for moving away from the “Let’s not talk about Iraq” response and to engage finally on the subject. I would prefer that his simple position on Iraq be “I didn’t vote for that mistake, nor would I have made that mistake”, a response that would separate him from many of his Beltway competitors for the nomination. But he is evolving, which is more than anyone can say about the man he is trying to succeed at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.