I'm watching the AFL-CIO debate, and Clinton has made some more major mistakes that open her up to charges of being an elitist and out-of-touch insider. In the argument over Pakistan, Clinton just said that if you are running for President you "shouldn't say everything you think", and got booed.
Earlier, she had fleshed out her opinion on Iraq. While outlining her plan for the country, most of it was focused on withdrawal, but there was an important caveat.
I have a three point plan to get out of Iraq, starting with redeploying our troops and doing it responsibly and carefully because as many of the veterans in this audience know taking troops out can be just as dangerous as bringing them in. And we've got to get out of Iraq smarter than we got in.
Secondly we've got to put more pressure on the Iraqi government including withholding aid from them if they don't begin to stabilize the country themselves. And thirdly we need an intensive diplomatic effort regionally and internationally.
But if it is a possibility that Al Qaeda would stay in Iraq I think we need to stay focused on trying to keep them on the run as we currently are doing in Anbar province.
Anbar's key significance in the debate is that it is the core example used by liberal hawks to justify residual forces or a continuing surge. Here's O'Hanlon and Pollack.
The result has been that in the last six months Iraqis have begun to turn on the extremists and turn to the Americans for security and help. The most important and best-known example of this is in Anbar Province, which in less than six months has gone from the worst part of Iraq to the best (outside the Kurdish areas). Today the Sunni sheiks there are close to crippling Al Qaeda and its Salafist allies. Just a few months ago, American marines were fighting for every yard of Ramadi; last week we strolled down its streets without body armor.
Anbar is tactically meaningless, as Al Qaeda has left the region and gone elsewhere in Iraq due to tribal pressure. That Clinton is saying that Anbar province is an example of the success of the surge suggests a serious lapse in judgment. She has learned nothing. I have heard that O'Hanlon is an advisor of hers, and I wouldn't be surprised if that's the case. She is making the liberal hawk argument for remaining in Iraq, or even, supporting the surge.
With this tidbit, the lobbyist defense, and the argument that candidates shouldn't say everything they think, Clinton has shown herself to be much sloppier and elitist than I thought possible.
Wow, this is a surprising turn. Obama, Dodd, and Richardson are doing fairly well, Edwards is kind of silent, and Biden got booed. I thought Clinton had more discipline than this.
The forum itself is very very good. The AFL-CIO questioners are just wonderful.