Monday, February 04, 2008

Bullshit or Not: Super Monday Hillary Clinton Edition

Yesterday was Superbowl Sunday and tomorrow is Super Tuesday, but today is just plain old Monday. Let's turn it up with another edition of "Bullshit or Not," shall we?

This week's quotation comes from the last Democratic Presidential debate in Los Angeles. One answer that really interested me was Senator Clinton's response to the question about her vote to authorize the President's power to go to war in Iraq:

Well, Wolf, I think that if you look at what was going on at the time -- and certainly, I did an enormous amount of investigation and due diligence to try to determine what if any threat could flow from the history of Saddam Hussein being both an owner of and a seeker of weapons of mass destruction.

The idea of putting inspectors back in -- that was a credible idea. I believe in coercive diplomacy. I think that you try to figure out how to move bad actors in a direction that you prefer in order to avoid more dire consequences.

And if you took it on the face of it and if you took it on the basis of what we hoped would happen with the inspectors going in, that in and of itself was a policy that we've used before. We have used the threat of force to try to make somebody change their behavior.

I think what no one could have fully appreciated is how obsessed this president was with this particular mission. And unfortunately, I and others who warned at the time, who said, let the inspectors finish their work, you know, do not wage a preemptive war, use diplomacy, were just talking to a brick wall.
So, the claim is that she was not really vote for war, but rather voted to reintroduce the inspectors with the threat of war purely for its coercive power, inspections with an edge.

Her argument turns on the historical nature of evidence. We didn't know then what we know now and what was reasonable to believe at that time is not what turned out to be the case. Given what we knew at the time, the decision was correct; it just turns out to have unfortunately been wrong just as in the 17th century, it was rational to believe Newton was right, but it now turns out with information we could not have had at the time that he is wrong. The vote to authorize the President to go to war could not have been reasonably believed to actually be authorizing the President to go to war as he did because at the time, with the best information we had, there was good reason to suppose the WMD were there, that the inspectors would find them if they were, that if they were not there a war would no ensue, and George W. Bush would not pull the inspectors prematurely in order to launch a war. As such, the reasonable position was to vote for authorization.

So, bullshit or not? As usual, feel free to leave a one word answer or a dissertation.