Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What if a man had said it?

A few days ago Taylor Marsh offered a post with a headline that she suggested belonged "In the What If A Man Had Said It Department ." It was about the exchange between Hillary Clinton and an Iowa voter.

Randall Rolph was on of several hundred people attending an event featuring the Senator. When she called on him, he pulled out a piece of paper and read a question about Iran.

WaPo reports:
Rolph asked Clinton to explain her Senate vote Wednesday for a resolution urging the Bush administration to label the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization. Rolph interpreted that measure as giving Bush authority to use military action against the Iranians.
Clinton challenged the premise of the question, and went on to explain that she had gone to the Senate floor in February

... to state that Bush does not have the authority to use military action against Iran and that she is working on legislation to put that into law. Rolph once again challenged her recent vote, suggesting that it amounted to giving Bush a free hand.

"I'm sorry, sir, it does not," she said, her voice showing her exasperation. "No, no, let me just say one other thing because I respect your research. There was an earlier version that I opposed. It was dramatically changed ... I would never have voted for the first version. The second version ripped out what was considered very bellicose and very threatening language."

So what did the language removed from the bill say?

"(3) that it should be the policy of the United States to combat, contain, and roll back the violent activities and destabilizing influence inside Iraq of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, its foreign facilitators such as Lebanese Hezbollah, and its indigenous Iraqi proxies;

"(4) to support the prudent and calibrated use of all instruments of United States national power in Iraq, including diplomatic, economic, intelligence, and military instruments, in support of the policy described in paragraph (3) with respect to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its proxies;"

MSNBC reported:
The crowd applauded when the senator ended the back and forth by saying the two had a disagreement and offering to put Rolph in touch with her staff, who could provide him with the text of the legislation, which she suggested he had misunderstood.
Andrew Sullivan chimed in calling Clinton "arrogant." Maureen Dowd said "she sounded defensive and paranoid," while giving Obama a complete pass. Hey Maureen, at least she showed up to vote. If the bill concerned you so, where is your disdain for Obama for not showing up to vote against it? Are we to assume from this that when the going gets tough, Obama will be ... well ... gone?

For his part Rolph said he would not be voting for Clinton. As Marsh says:

... we've got another man who won't vote for Clinton. Film at eleven ... Clinton saying, "I'm sorry, sir, it does not," prompted this cascade of blathering? Here's a news flash. Hillary Clinton is tough. How do you think she got through the 1990s and continues to take this onslaught. Every move is now scrutinized with an eye to take her down a peg. If she dares disagree with an Iowan, we're supposed to send in the emotional paramedics? [...]

The only element of this back and forth between Clinton and the Iowan worth mentioning is that Clinton obviously underestimated the message her vote on Lieberman-Kyl would send. Wesley Clark and Joseph Wilson have both come out in support of her Iran stance, because it's still resonating with a lot of people, which is understandable. But again ... military action against Iran was scratched from the final Lieberman-Kyl legislation. Got that or are you just intent on ignoring the facts for some overblown drama in Iowa?

If Clinton doesn't answer the questions you need answered sufficiently she shouldn't get your vote. But the applause obviously signaled some Iowans thought she stood her ground. But if you have doubts, don't like her policy stances or something else about her, you've got other candidates from which to choose. But let's not pretend she's not giving answers, even if you don't like them, or that she's being militant with Iran, or supposed to present herself as some political version of June Clever.

If Barack Obama or John Edwards had responded to Randall Rolph as Clinton did the lede would be touting their strength.
For his part, Obama is now on the campaign trail criticizing Clinton's vote. Keep in mind that he didn't even bother to vote on this bill. It seems he's upset, saying Clinton's vote:
... states that Iran is causing a problem in Iraq and would designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.
The problem with his criticism is that in April Obama cosponsored a bill that would have designated the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

The "Iran Counter-Proliferation Act of 2007," which Obama cosponsored on April 24, 2007, states clearly that:

"The Secretary of State should designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as a Foreign Terrorist Organization under section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1189) and the Secretary of the Treasury should place the Iranian Revolutionary Guards on the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists under Executive Order 13224 (66 Fed. Reg. 186; relating to blocking property and prohibiting transactions with persons who commit, threaten to commit, or support terrorism)."
Clinton's campaign responded to Obama saying that:
Senator Clinton was one of the first in Congress to say that Bush must seek an explicit authorization from Congress for any military action against Iran and that she is the lead co-sponsor of legislation by Jim Webb to prohibit funds for military action in Iran without approval from Congress.
It's going to be a long time until November 2008.


Eric Riback said...

There have been a lot of folks who misunderstand what was voted on, because the edited language remained online well after the vote. I agree with you that the pissy commentary on Clinton is uncalled for and the main complaint should be with Obama. It's no accident he didn't vote on this. He just didn't want to go on the record. Personally, despite the edits I would have voted against it. As an article in November's Esquire makes clear, the Bush administration had every opportunity for rapprochement with Iran after 9/11. I wouldn't give them any tool to use in their march toward war.

BAC said...

Great comment, and thanks for stopping by!