In an op-ed published in the Baltimore Sun yesterday and augmented on the Huffington Post today, Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson argues that Hillary Clinton is the only candidate who can come away from the national election still standing.
He centers his argument on a single exchange of letters between Senator Obama and Senator McCain concerning a bipartisan effort to draft campaign finance reform laws. Unfortunately, his Huffington Post article links to a completely unrelated and somewhat bombastic series of comments relating to an exchange between McCain and Obama on the campaign trail last May, shortly after McCain paid a visit to Iraq and then argued for the ‘surge’ upon his return.
The actual letter exchange is very different than Ambassador Wilson describes.
But will Mr. Obama fight? His brief time on the national scene gives little comfort. Consider a February 2006 exchange of letters with Mr. McCain on the subject of ethics reform. The wrathful Mr. McCain accused Mr. Obama of being “disingenuous,” to which Mr. Obama meekly replied, “The fact that you have now questioned my sincerity and my desire to put aside politics for the public interest is regrettable but does not in any way diminish my deep respect for you.” Then McCain said, “Obama wouldn’t know the difference between an RPG and a bong.”
Mr. McCain was insultingly dismissive but successful in intimidating his inexperienced colleague. Thus, in his one face-to-face encounter with Mr. McCain, Mr. Obama failed to stand his ground.
What gives us confidence Mr. Obama will be stronger the next time he faces Mr. McCain, a seasoned political fighter with extensive national security credentials? Even more important, what special disadvantages does Mr. Obama carry into this contest on questions of national security?
Let’s step back and understand something here, beginning with the correct sequence of events. Letters were exchanged on February 2nd (Sen. Obama to Sen. McCain), and February 6th (Sen. McCain to Sen. Obama and reply by Sen. Obama). The exchange ended with this from Sen. Obama:
I confess that I have no idea what has prompted your response. But let me assure you that I am not interested in typical partisan rhetoric or posturing. The fact that you have now questioned my sincerity and my desire to put aside politics for the public interest is regrettable but does not in any way diminish my deep respect for you nor my willingness to find a bipartisan solution to this problem.
The Ethics Reform bill passed in January, 2007. John McCain voted for it. So who, exactly, backed down? Not Sen. Obama, who invited McCain to the table, McCain declined, and the legislation was introduced and passed with a near-unanimous majority.
Then, in a somewhat disingenuous move, Ambassador Wilson links up a comment McCain made in MAY, 2007 with this 2006 correspondence when in fact, it was related to McCain’s argument for the surge in Iraq. The comment was this one: “Obama wouldn’t know the difference between an RPG and a bong.” , which Ambassador Wilson incorrectly attributes to Sen. McCain, when in fact it was a McCain aide. The response from the Obama camp was anything but a retreat:
“America doesn’t need juvenile name-calling from Washington, we need a commitment to end this war and bring our brave troops home.”
Again, how does that equate to ‘backing down’? I would guess that Wilson is taking aim at Sen. Obama’s vote to fund the troops (including the surge), which Hillary Clinton also voted for. Here’s a news flash for Ambassador Wilson: A vote to fund the troops and pay them is hardly a vote for the war in Iraq. Even doves like me who also wouldn’t know an RPG from a bong know that much. I also know that Ambassador Wilson’s characterization of the War Authorization bill that Hillary voted for is incorrect. He may know something about diplomacy, but his knowledge of the actual facts of Senate actions appear to be a bit thin, despite the fact that it’s all in the public record right here on the Internet for anyone to see.
When the facts are considered, the air is blown right out of Ambassador Wilson’s argument, leaving a trail of ‘vapid rhetoric’ in the wake.
Folks, this is classic Clinton fighting style. Take facts, twist them around into a spin that demonizes the opponent, and then use a ‘weighty voice’ to carry them across the internet and airwaves as her proxy. This is why she cannot be the Democratic candidate — her ‘get in the gutter and fight’ tactics that Mr. Wilson admires so much are divisive, manipulative, underhanded and will guarantee John McCain the Presidency.
I have previously expressed great respect for Ambassador Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame Wilson. It’s disappointing to see him spend such a monumental store of goodwill on a dying candidacy. If this is an indication of what Senator Clinton has up her sleeve, then she really should suspend her campaign now, before she and Fmr. President Clinton tear the Democratic party apart and the country along with it.
A personal note to Ambassador Wilson: My own family served in the US Department of State for 30 years, and I have nothing but the utmost respect and fondness for the intelligence and passion of the US Diplomatic Corps. Your self-indulgent fact-twisting on the Huffpo piece is insulting to me on a personal level. In your haste to do Hillary Clinton a favor, you trounced all over the credibility of your colleagues. That’s truly a disappointment.