Sunday, November 13, 2005

John Edwards for President

Republicans talk -- endlessly -- about taking personal responsibility; but John Edwards, a Democrat, has actually gone and done it. And he's been getting lots of kudos for it, too:

From Iddybud:

This could never have been easy for Senator Edwards to admit. Most political leaders in Washington still won't admit what we all can see - that they were mistaken. I admire Senator Edwards' honesty and humility. He's a man of outstanding moral character.

From Prairie Weather:

It's a damn shame that courage consists of a long overdue apology. The apology comes from a man who, though attractive and decent, has appeared to be a mile wide and about an inch deep. He has changed.

He's definitely looking like presidential material, PW says:

Edwards is building a campaign, no doubt about it, with a series of pretty substantial statements and speeches. Go back and take a look at this, too.

Here is what Edwards wrote:

I was wrong.

Almost three years ago we went into Iraq to remove what we were told -- and what many of us believed and argued -- was a threat to America. But in fact we now know that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction when our forces invaded Iraq in 2003. The intelligence was deeply flawed and, in some cases, manipulated to fit a political agenda.

It was a mistake to vote for this war in 2002. I take responsibility for that mistake. It has been hard to say these words because those who didn't make a mistake -- the men and women of our armed forces and their families -- have performed heroically and paid a dear price.

The world desperately needs moral leadership from America, and the foundation for moral leadership is telling the truth.

While we can't change the past, we need to accept responsibility, because a key part of restoring America's moral leadership is acknowledging when we've made mistakes or been proven wrong -- and showing that we have the creativity and guts to make it right.

If Edwards had stopped here, he would have been impressive enough. But he goes further, and proposes a specific plan for getting out of Iraq with some degree of dignity and without dishonoring the American men and women who gave their lives for what they were told was a noble cause.

How do we do that?

Redefine success: "I don't think [success] is Iraq as a Jeffersonian democracy. I think it is an Iraq that is relatively stable, largely self-sufficient, comparatively open and free, and in control of its own destiny."

Plan for success: "A plan for success needs to focus on three interlocking objectives: reducing the American presence, building Iraq's capacity and getting other countries to meet their responsibilities to help."

When he gets down to spelling out the specific actions the U.S. must take to make this plan a reality, Edwards straightforwardly acknowledges unpleasant truths that few, if any, of his fellow Democrats have had the courage or honesty to publicly admit:

The Bush admin's blunders destabilized Iraq and fueled anti-American feeling:

Along with Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, [Pres. Bush] has made horrible mistakes at almost every step: failed diplomacy; not going in with enough troops; not giving our forces the equipment they need; not having a plan for peace.

Because of these failures, Iraq is a mess and has become a far greater threat than it ever was. It is now a haven for terrorists, and our presence there is draining the goodwill our country once enjoyed, diminishing our global standing. It has made fighting the global war against terrorist organizations more difficult, not less.

Iraqis view Americans as imperialists, not as liberators -- and we are responsible for creating that image.

American contractors who have taken unfair advantage of the turmoil in Iraq need to leave Iraq. If that means Halliburton subsidiary KBR, then KBR should go. Such departures, and the return of the work to Iraqi businesses, would be a real statement about our hopes for the new nation.

The U.S. occupation of Iraq is fueling the insurgency. We are responsible for creating the belief among Iraqis that the U.S. plans to stay in Iraq indefinitely.

We also need to show Iraq and the world that we will not stay there forever. We've reached the point where the large number of our troops in Iraq hurts, not helps, our goals.

John Aravosis thinks that Edwards should have said all this during last year's election campaign; but nevertheless he deserves credit for saying it now:

Edwards is saying what far too few Democrats are willing to say. They got tricked into voting for the war in Iraq, and now they regret it. Edwards goes one step farther, taking personal responsibility in any case for his vote. He and Kerry should have done this last year, but it's still good he's doing it now, and it sounds very much to me like this is a man running for president in 2008.

I say this is a big deal because top Democrats are finally willing to say publicly that they screwed up, they should have never voted for this fiasco, while at the same acknowledging that Bush hardly played an insignificant role in tricking the Congress and the American people into supporting this war.

John makes an excellent additional point as well: The fact that Congress gave Bush permission to invade Iraq does not mean they gave him permission to screw up the job:

One point Edwards doesn't make very clearly, but I would, is that Congress gave the president the authorization to go to war. They did not give him the authorization to do so incompetently. There's a big difference. You give your doctor permission to conduct a tonsilectomy. You do not, however, give him permission to get drunk and cut off your leg by mistake.

Bush is guilty of military malpractice. No one gave him permission to do a sloppy job.

No comments: