How Republican Candidates Should Answer Questions About Iraq

Lately reporters have been asking Republican presidential candidates to admit that the Iraq war was a mistake. The candidates have handled such questions with varying degrees of deftness. But so far, none has responded with: “You are asking whether I think Hillary Clinton made a mistake in voting for it?” After the necessary backing and filling by the interviewer, the candidate can proceed with this answer: “No. The mistake was when Barack Obama prematurely withdrew our troops. At that time, he said Iraq was stable, secure and prosperous, and he was right. The chaos we see now is the direct result of President Obama’s mistake.” If enough Republicans start responding that way, reporters will stop asking the question.

One might ask why questions about Iraq have suddenly become the order of the day. I haven’t noticed any clamor from voters to learn the candidates’ positions on the 2003 invasion. (To be fair, voters aren’t clamoring for much else, either, with regard to next year’s election.) My guess is that reporters have become alarmed that most people consider the Obama administration a failure, and Hillary Clinton is being exposed as an awful candidate. Lest a Republican win the presidential election next year, they think they had better trot out Iraq. But there is a lot of water over that dam, and, with the Islamic State having just captured Ramadi, a lot more pressing questions than the ones reporters have been asking.