Hillary Clinton on Meet the Press

Look, I hate talking about this stuff as a general rule, but I feel compelled. Clinton’s performance on Meet the Press has incensed me so much that I risk being late to see some friends I’d very much like to see. Here I am in my pajamas, fuming at the keyboard.

So was your judgment lacking, Senator Clinton? No, because President Bush lied to me about how aggressively and seriously he’d pursue a diplomatic solution. But then, almost by definition, you were misled. Judgment is, in no small part, about being able to tell when people are lying to you, isn’t it? Perhaps Senator Clinton believes that no one will ever again try to mislead her. I’m reminded of President Bush’s brilliant “fool me once” remark: Fool me twice! You can’t … you can’t fool me twice! This seems to be Clinton’s basic understanding of how the world should work, which suggests a level of ingenuousness far beyond that of the junior senator from Illinois.

But really, the lengthy exchange over whether Clinton’s vote for the authorization of military force was in fact a vote to authorize military force — a vote made in the context of the Levin amendment, which Clinton opposed — is just icing on the cake. Oh, one more thing. Clinton laments that she was unable to pass an authorization with a “time limit.” So apparently we can invade countries provided we do it within an approved “time limit,” and then the commander-in-chief must put the pieces back in the box, hoping that no one is too enraged. Shrewd.

But yes, it’s the icing on the cake because the most infuriating moment came when Russert asked a question regarding the surge: What happens if Petraeus asks to retain roughly the current number of troops through the end of the year? Clinton said that would be unacceptable. Is it because we can’t trust Petraeus? She didn’t say that, though that would at least be coherent. No, it’s because Iraqis are only acting now because of our presidential election — they know the “blank check” won’t last for long. But what does that have to do with authorizing the troops General Petraeus will, under the hypothetical, claim that we need? I mean, if there’s no more “blank check” and the writing is on the wall, why do we need to see the coalition’s ability to protect Iraqi civilians against insurgent attacks collapse before the inauguration? This seems like a strange principle to be standing on. Again, this is all premised on the notion that General Petraeus is not lying. Clinton could, of course, claim that Petraeus is in fact General Betray-us, and that many members of the elite ranks of the US military are bent on a permanent occupation — a claim thay many opponents of the war are quite happy to make.

So what gives? If we’re cutting our losses, why cut our losses now rather than the many times Senator Clinton has been faced with the choice in the past? Could it have something to do with the race for the Democratic nomination? Well, of course it does. Remarkably enough, Clinton is now attacking Obama for being “political.” The conceit is mind-bending.

Sorry, friends. I’ll try to restrain myself in the future.