Not just rehash, Part One

Scott has already commented on the Washington Post’s story from Friday about the two new Hillary Clinon books — one by Carl Bernstein and the other by Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta. The Clinton campaign cannot dismiss either as the product of “the vast right-wing conspiracy,” so it claims that they represent nothing more than a rehashing of old matters — “cash for rehash” in the words of a Clinton spokesperson.
When a politician tries to step up to our highest office, it is customary and appropriate to review his or her career. Thus, “rehash” is hardly out of order. However, as depicted by the Post, these books contain at least two major revelations.
First, Gerth and Van Natta apparently suggest that Clinton voted to support going to war in Iraq without having read the National Intelligence Estimate regarding whether Iraq possessed WMD. If true, this would be shocking, though not terribly suprising — shocking to have voted on such a momentous issue without having done her homework, but not surprising because the modern Democratic party consistently pays more attention to politics than to the merits on matters of war and peace (and is doing so still). It was Bill Clinton, after all, who said he would have voted for war with Iraq in 1991 if the vote had been close even though he thought opponents of war had the better arguments.
Speaking of Bill Clinton, the second revelation in the Post article takes us back to Slick Willy’s administration. It rates a separate post, which I’ll prepare later this evening.
JOHN demurs, mildly: Would it really be shocking if Hillary didn’t read the NIE on Iraq? I’m not so sure. The NIE said that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons, and was trying to acquire nuclear weapons. But that was the conventional wisdom; no one seriously doubted those conclusions in 2003. Hillary no doubt took those propositions as givens when she voted in favor of the war, and I don’t think it was unreasonable for her to do so. If there had been significant doubt or debate about Iraq’s WMD capabilities at the time, then it might be considered a dereliction of duty not to immerse herself in the intelligence reports. But there wasn’t.
What I think is shocking is not that Hillary took for granted what everyone else did in 2003, but rather that she, like nearly all leading Democrats, has subsequently tried to wriggle out of her vote and blame President Bush for the CIA’s intelligence failures. Here again, though, to be fair, Hillary hasn’t gone as far in this direction as the rest of the contenders for the Democratic nomination.
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