When Hillary Clinton was first elected senator from New York in November 2000, I was living in Brooklyn and was still a huge Clinton Family fan. I'd voted for her husband twice, and now I voted for her. I was thrilled to have the incredibly smart ex-First Lady as my state's new senator. She was so savvy and politically experienced, poised, charismatic, and--a woman!
Sadly, the glow would wear off sooner than I could imagine. On October 10, 2002--less than two years after she had been elected--Senator Clinton gave a speech
on the Senate floor, discussing the pending resolution
that would grant President Bush unprecedented military powers, as well as the authority to invade Iraq. In her 2,476-word speech, Clinton urged the nation to tread very carefully. Saddam was bad, she said, but war was far, far worse. "If we were to attack Iraq now, alone or with few allies, it would set a precedent that could come back to haunt us." She spoke of tyrannical Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and his eventual defeat. "We and our NATO allies did not depose Mr. Milosevic, who was responsible for more than a quarter of a million people being killed in the 1990s. Instead, by stopping his aggression in Bosnia and Kosovo, and keeping on the tough sanctions, we created the conditions in which his own people threw him out and led to his being in the dock being tried for war crimes as we speak." It started out as a good speech--a great speech--but didn't end as one. After delivering about three-quarters of a very convincing and passionate anti-war message, Senator Clinton voted for the resolution.
Her entire speech was spin, and I felt betrayed. But I wasn't the only one. In the years since she cast that vote, Clinton has been haunted by it. She has had to answer again and again for that decision--her presidential campaign has been dogged by it--and she has had to watch as military decisions based on her vote failed time and time again, costing trillions of dollars and many thousands of lives.
Because of her vote, I was angry at the senator for a long, long time. For me, her support of the war was the ultimate line-crossing, an unforgivable act. And yet, when she announced her candidacy for president in January 2007, I decided to give her a second chance (as did many Americans and New Yorkers). Betraying my earlier instincts, I reasoned that the past was the past, and told myself that there was little she alone could do about the current debacle in Iraq. In short, I started letting myself like her again.
As her presidential campaign unfolded, I was once again charmed by her intelligence and poise. I was inspired by the idea that she really could become our first female president, and would therefore be more compassionate. There was a desire for change, a promise of strength, but most of all, there was the hope that Clinton, with her eight-year track record as the most politically active First Lady, could repair our nearly devastated foreign relations.
And then the other shoe dropped.
On September 26, 2007 the Senate assembled to vote on the politically psychotic Lieberman-Kyl Amendment
to the Defense Authorization Bill--an amendment that, in no uncertain terms, authorizes military action against Iran. Now, let's put aside for a second the awkward fact that the amendment was being debated while the President of Iran was visiting this country. Let's also put aside the question of where the troops for such an invasion would come from. Instead, let's consider how much data there is clearly demonstrating how much Americans don't wish to launch another war.
As I read the amendment, I wasn't as terrified as I usually am by such things, because I was sure that Hillary (as I was now calling her) would lead the logical and overwhelming opposition. Here was the chance to correct her earlier, gargantuan mistake. She could use her clout as a presidential candidate to quickly vaporize the lunatic project.
Imagine my sense of betrayal when she did just the opposite, and voted in favor of the Lieberman-Kyl Amendment.
Candidate Clinton has now voted for war not once, but twice. No additional sanctions, no continued, UN-driven multilateral talks-war. It is therefore that, with heavy heart, I give up on her. I have no other choice. If she can do this as a senator, what insanity would she approve as president? She had, and still has, the opportunity to lead by example, to show the world that we aren't a nation of bullies and Lone Rangers, but rather one for whom diplomacy and negotiation are the stuff of foreign policy. Let's hope she turns it around. I'd like that, but I'm not going to hold my breath, and, in the interim, will seek elsewhere to cast my vote.