Obama's Early Statements on the War in Iraq

Rep. Jim McGovern has a column up at HuffPo today quoting Barack Obama in earlier days on the War in Iraq.

Talking about how he would have voted on the '02 authorization, Mr. Russert flashed a quote from then-State Senator Obama on the screen that said: "I'm not privy to Senate intelligence reports. What would I have done? I don't know." In response, Senator Obama said it was probably the wrong time for him to speak out on the war.

....Mr. Russert also reminded Senator Obama about this comment he made in July of 2004: "There's not much of a difference between my position on Iraq and George Bush's position at this stage."

The point being, Obama is criticizing Hillary for acting like George Bush, when in those early days, he came close to supporting Bush on the war.

McGovern says,

I'm not interested in who was "first" to oppose this awful war. I'm more interested in what's next.

When it comes to ending the war, the question needs to be: Which candidate has the experience, maturity, skill and ability to safely get our troops out of Iraq and bring this sad chapter in our history to an end?

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    The problem with that formulation (none / 0) (#1)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Nov 14, 2007 at 10:40:09 AM EST
    is that Hillary is doing very little to lead on Iraq now in the Senate.

    Sorry, that was a hit job on Obama by Mcgovern while giving a pass to Hillary?

    I say thumbs down on that one.

    Incomplete transcript (none / 0) (#2)
    by tonyroma on Wed Nov 14, 2007 at 11:19:19 AM EST
    It would be nice if those criticizing someone based on what they said would actually report the entirety of their remarks instead of cherry-picking worthy of Dick Cheney brow-beating the CIA:

    MR. RUSSERT:  You were not in the Senate in October of 2002.  You did give a speech opposing the war.  But Senator Clinton's campaign will say since you've been a senator there's been no difference in your record.  And other critics will say that you've not been a leader against the war, and they point to this:  In July of `04, Barack Obama, "I'm not privy to Senate intelligence reports.  What would I have done?  I don't know," in terms of how you would have voted on the war.  And then this:  "There's not much of a difference between my position on Iraq and George Bush's position at this stage." That was July of `04.  And this:  "I think" there's "some room for disagreement in that initial decision to vote for authorization of the war." It doesn't seem that you are firmly wedded against the war, and that you left some wiggle room that, if you had been in the Senate, you may have voted for it.

    SEN. OBAMA:  Now, Tim, that first quote was made with an interview with a guy named Tim Russert on MEET THE PRESS during the convention when we had a nominee for the presidency and a vice president, both of whom had voted for the war.  And so it, it probably was the wrong time for me to be making a strong case against our party's nominees' decisions when it came to Iraq.

    Look, I was opposed to this war in 2002, 2003, four, five, six and seven. What I was very clear about, even in 2002 in my original opposition, was once we were in, we were going to have to make some decisions to see how we could stabilize the situation and act responsibly.  And that's what I did through 2004, five and six, try to see can we create a workable government in Iraq? Can we make sure that we are minimizing the humanitarian costs in Iraq?  Can we make sure that our troops are safe in Iraq?  And that's what I have done. Finally, in 2006, 2007, we started to see that, even after an election, George Bush continued to want to pursue a course that didn't withdraw troops from Iraq but actually doubled down and initiated the surge.  And at that stage, I said, very clearly, not only have we not seen improvements, but we're actually worsening, potentially, a situation there.  And since that time I've been absolutely clear in terms of the approach that I would take.  I would end this war, and I would have our troops out within 16 months.


    So Obama didn't want to criticize either Kerry or Edwards in 2004, and this shows inconsistency on his part?

    That Makes it Worse (none / 0) (#3)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Nov 14, 2007 at 11:24:31 AM EST
    He's saying he said something he didn't believe in for political purposes. How do we trust what he's saying now?

    "All I know is the case wasn't made." (none / 0) (#4)
    by Geekesque on Wed Nov 14, 2007 at 12:14:25 PM EST
    The Clinton folks always omit that part of his quote, for obvious reasons.

    The reality of electoral politics is that when a nominee is chosen, everyone from his/her VP choice on down has to bend over backwards to give the appearance of a united front.  In 2004, the way to end the Iraq war was to elect John Kerry.  Obama, having been put in the spotlight by John Kerry, would have been selfishly grandstanding had he then used the spotlight to call out Kerry's incoherent stance on the war.

    What this reveals is the problem with nominating someone who got Iraq wrong in the first place--it prevents us as a party from drawing clear contrasts with the Republican party.