The Fringe, Part 5
Presidential candidates you've never heard of.
Updated Friday, Oct. 26, 2007, at 6:05 PM
Iraq redux?: So Obama's going for it. He's not only trying to make Hillary's vote for the Lieberman-Kyl Amendment, which labeled the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group, sound like a vote for war. He's making it a major focus of his fall campaign.
Today Obama's campaign sent out glossy color mailings in Iowa calling him "the ONLY major candidate for president to oppose both the Iraq War from the very start and the Senate amendment that raises the risk of war with Iran."
This, despite drawing criticism for flogging a nonissue. When Obama wrote an op-ed for the Manchester Union Leader accusing Clinton of "saber-rattling," the Clinton campaign quickly fired back: "It's unfortunate that Sen. Obama is abandoning the politics of hope and embracing the same old attack politics as his support stagnates." Since then, politicians and pundits have taken sides. Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, an Obama ally, publicly disagreed with him. The Washington Post editorial page on Sunday called Obama's tactics "irresponsible and -- given the ease with which the charge can be rebutted -- probably naive, as well."
The main arguments against his charge are: One, the Kyl-Liberman Amendment originally kept military options on the table, but that language was deliberately cut out. Two, the 2002 Iraq war authorization was far more explicit in allowing the president to take the country to war. Three, despite the posturing, Obama and Hillary's positions on Iran don't differ all that much—they both favor diplomacy but neither renounces military action. And lastly, if the vote was so important, why wasn't Obama there?
As for the last question, here's Barack Obama's public schedule for Sept. 26, 2007, the day Hillary Clinton voted for the Lieberman-Kyl Amendment:
"Today's Public Events:
11:30 a.m. NEW HAMPSHIRE, Obama will host a Harvest for Change event in Peterborough.
9:00 p.m. NEW HAMPSHIRE, Obama will participate in the DNC Debate at Dartmouth College in Hanover."
He missed the vote for one morning event? Who knows, maybe there was some unmissable private fund-raiser we don't know about. But something tells me he didn't spend that day agonizing over an impending war with Iran.
Oct. 22, 2007
Christopher Beam is a writer living in Beijing.
Photographs of: Cap Fendig courtesy Cap Fendig; screenshot of The Huffington Post.