Thursday :: Oct 11, 2007

Obama Out Of Line Attacking Hillary on Iran


by Jeff Dinelli

Grasping for straws, Sen. Obama picks the wrong one in criticizing Hillary's vote on the Kyl/Lieberman non-binding sense of the Senate amendment. This really gets to the heart of a candidate's potential for leadership as commander-in-chief. "This was a vote for war," he added. "You can't give this president a blank check and be surprised when he cashes it."

Well, no, actually Senator, it was not a vote for war. First of all, Hillary was on top of this issue back in February in a speech on the Senate floor. "It would be a mistake of historical proportion if the administration thought that the 2002 resolution authorizing force against Iraq was a blank check for the use of force against Iran without further congressional authorization. Nor should the President think that the 2001 resolution authorizing force after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in any way authorizes force against Iran. If the administration believes that any, any use of force against Iran is necessary, the president must come to Congress to seek that authority."

Factually, this recent vote on the non-binding sense of the senate regarding whether or not to label Iran's Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization is a correct one. The Guard created Hezbollah and continues to support that group with arms and money. Contextually, it depends on how hard we want to be diplomatically on Iran. As you can see from the marked up text, Hillary and other Senators demanded the military language be removed from the amendment. Hillary made her reasons behind the vote very clear, and stressed there will be no military action taken without Congressional approval. The only Senator to endorse Obama, fellow Illinoian Dick Durbin, voted for the amendment.

"If I thought there was any way it could be used as a pretense to launch an invasion of Iran I would have voted no,'' Durbin said in an interview.

In fact, Durbin initially criticized the language in the measure, prompting its author, Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, to cut two paragraphs out entirely.

"I am opposed to military action in Iran," Durbin said, noting that it would require congressional approval. "To say we need to pressure the Iranians to change their course in the Middle East and I want to do it by nonmilitary means, that's what my vote was all about.''

Durbin said he also received assurances that the U.S. is not preparing to attack Iran from a source he respects, Defense Secretary Robert Gates: "He was as clear as could be that there are no plans for that to happen.''

General Wesley Clark supported Hillary's vote. Carl Levin and Joe Wilson also supported the measure, and emphasized it was not a vote for war.

And how did Obama vote? He didn't. He claimed he couldn't get back to Capitol Hill in time for the vote, which was scheduled and debated on days in advance. The vote was at 12:44 pm. He made a statement condemning Hillary's vote at 10:00 pm, and it's not a stretch of the imagination that his team was poll-testing the thing in the meantime, then came out and flatly lied about its implications. This was not a vote for war.

Let's contrast this approach with Hillary's actions, and think about character. Hillary reads an amendment which comes across her desk, and after helping to strike all military language from the resolution, realizes it comes down to one question: Is the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization or not? The answer is yes. Knowing she's going to be pilloried by the left, she stands up and votes correctly in a factual way.

Who shows better character here, better leadership? Obama seems to be cravenly politicizing a national security issue, and displayed a total lack of leadership by skipping the vote, just as he skipped the Move On vote. If this Iran resolution was so important to him and speaks to "judgement," as he says now, where was he when the vote went down, and why did it take him 9 hours to make a statement on it?

You're right, Sen. Obama. Americans are looking for good judgement in their candidates. They're also looking for leadership, and character. Hillary again stood in the line of fire and made a decision, whether people agreed with it or not. You, sir, failed to do so.


Update: And another thing: I'm not just speaking here as a campaign reporter, I'm speaking as an Illinois citizen. I'm going to email Senator Obama in case his campaign doesn't see this, but I'm not happy with his recent habit of ducking votes while at the same time casting judgement on those who do show up to vote.

Obama casts his Senate votes in a progressive manner, almost vote for vote the same as Hillary. But since his run for the nomination, he has taken on a new personality, not as strong, and I'm not happy about his missing both the Iran sense of the Senate and the Move On vote. He's supposed to be representing those of us at home, and don't give me that crap about how hard it is to vote when you're running for president, like he told Wolf Blitzer yesterday. If it's so hard, how did Hillary get there? How did Chris Dodd get there? How did Joe Biden find the time to vote? Lame, Senator. Lame. And if I ever get another chance to chat with Sen. Durbin, I'm gonna bring this up. He also didn't make me feel warm and fuzzy when he used his time at the Petraeus hearings to give a campaign speech.

People from Illinois are watching you very closely, Senator. Please start representing us a little more effectively.

Jeff Dinelli :: 8:33 AM :: Comments (29) :: Digg It!