In her campaign’s first chaotic flailings after losing the Iowa caucuses, Hillary Clinton and her
husband surrogates clumsily sought to differentiate her from Barack Obama by claiming bluntly that she was "a doer, not a talker." With the breathing space afforded by a week and a come-from-ahead-and-then-behind win in New Hampshire, they’ve found a slightly more artful way of questioning the value of Obama’s indisputable speechmaking skills, as the Associated Press reports:
Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton suggested Sunday that Barack Obama’s campaign had injected racial tension into the presidential contest, saying he had distorted for political gain her comments about Martin Luther King’s role in the civil rights movement.
. . . "Dr. King didn’t just give speeches. He marched, he organized, he protested, he was gassed, he was beaten, he was jailed," she said, noting King had campaigned for Johnson because he recognized the need to elect a president who could enact civil rights into law.. . .
. . . "If you are part of American political history, you know that speeches are essential to frame an issue, to inspire, and lift up," Clinton said. "But when the cameras are gone and when the lights are out, what happens next?"
As the Clinton campaign has been quick to promote, Hillary asked the same question specifically about Obama and Iraq:
[In 2002] he gave a speech opposing the war in Iraq. He gave a very impassioned speech against it . . . . By 2003, that speech was off his website. By 2004, he was saying that he didn’t really disagree with the way George Bush was conducting the war. And by 2005, 6, and 7, he was voting for $300 billion in funding for the war. The story of his campaign is really the story of that speech and his opposition to Iraq. I think it is fair to ask questions about, what did you do after the speech was over? And when he became a senator, he didn’t go to the floor of the Senate to condemn the war in Iraq for 18 months. He didn’t introduce legislation against the war in Iraq. . . . So I think it’s important that we get the contrast and the comparisons out.
Of course, if I were Obama, I’d be wondering, "What contrast?" After all, Hillary knows exactly what Obama did about the war after he entered the Senate in 2005. He was cowering in the corner, trying not to draw any flak… right behind Hillary, who was hiding with him.
If either one had possessed the courage to be a leader in trying to end the war this past year, he or she would have a much stronger case now. Instead, they’re left to bicker over who was more of a political coward. In truth, it’s probably a tie.