Thursday, July 26, 2007

Obama vs. Clinton, Round 1

Hillary Clinton wasted no time attacking Barack Obama after Monday night's CNN/YouTube debate. Answering a question about foreign policy, Obama said he would try to reverse the damage done by the Bush administrations bellicose diplomacy by meeting with the leaders of nations such as Iran, Cuba, and North Korea, without conditions, within the first year of his presidency.

In her ongoing campaign to appear tough, Clinton attacked Obama the next day, declaring his policy propositions "irresponsible and naive." According to Clinton, meeting with these renegade leaders without conditions and without initial diplomatic envoys would diminish the prestige and power of the American presidency.

Oh yes. Of course. The Office of the President is so prestigious and powerful these days.

Anyway, Obama was quick to clarify his intentions. "The notion that I was somehow going to be inviting them over for tea next week without having initial envoys meet is ridiculous," he said in an interview outside his office. "But the general principle is one that I think Senator Clinton is wrong on, and that is if we are laying out preconditions that prevent us from speaking frankly to these folks, then we are continuing with Bush-Cheney policies."

Hillary obviously didn't have many qualms with Bush-Cheney policies when she authorized the president's initial authorization to go to invade Iraq.

"But that was years ago," you might say. Well, when Clinton can demonstrate that her judgement has improved since that vote, maybe she'll earn some more credibility on the Iraq issue.

In the meantime, it's the same story with the former first lady: Act tough on defense and foreign policy. It's what she thinks the voters want, and so she is willing to play that role. It's what she was doing when she authorized the invasion of Iraq. It's what she is doing now when she criticizes Barack Obama for wanting to use diplomacy instead of sanctions and warheads.