Another example of the progressive decline of the Democratic Party
The Democratic conventioneers heard Barack Obama‘s strong voice and got a good taste of his style during his Tuesday-night keynote address. Unfortunately, he couldn’t tell them what he really thought—and what they really wanted to hear. The future Illinois senator would have brought the house down—but he would have made the Kerry-Edwards combo look stupid, and of course, Bush‘s foxes would have tried to tear into the skinny Obama’s liberal backside.
This is basically what the 42-year-old Chicagoan had to say about the war during Tuesday night’s keynote:
“When we send our young men and women into harm’s way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they are going, to care for their families while they’re gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return and to never, ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace and earn the respect of the world.”
Mr. Peabody and Sherman are no longer around, but let’s take their Wayback Machine to October 2002, around the time when senators Kerry and Edwards were voting to support Bush’s war. Obama, gearing up for his battle to become that rarest of all Americans—a young, black, male U.S. senator—laid it out in a speech at Federal Plaza in downtown Chicago. This long excerpt is worth quoting:
“I don’t oppose all wars.
“After September 11, after witnessing the carnage and destruction, the dust and the tears, I supported this administration’s pledge to hunt down and root out those who would slaughter innocents in the name of intolerance, and I would willingly take up arms myself to prevent such tragedy from happening again.
“I don’t oppose all wars. And I know that in this crowd today, there is no shortage of patriots, or of patriotism.
“What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.
“What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income—to distract us from corporate scandals. . . .
“That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.
“Now let me be clear: I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied U.N. resolutions, thwarted U.N. inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity.
“He’s a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.
“But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.
“I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences.
“I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of Al Qaeda.”
“I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.”
Too bad that, unlike Obama, Kerry and Edwards didn’t have the guts to oppose Bush back in October 2002.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 28, 2004