Sunday, November 13, 2005

And Now There Are Two
Just last week, I said that I couldn't support any Democratic senator for president who voted for the war in Iraq and who wouldn't now admit that he or she was wrong to have cast that vote. After being reported as creeping out into the light in The Nation recently, John Edwards joins Russ Feingold's party of one in today's Washington Post, beginning his column by saying "I was wrong."
It was a mistake to vote for this war in 2002. I take responsibility for that mistake. It has been hard to say these words because those who didn't make a mistake -- the men and women of our armed forces and their families -- have performed heroically and paid a dear price.

The world desperately needs moral leadership from America, and the foundation for moral leadership is telling the truth.

While we can't change the past, we need to accept responsibility, because a key part of restoring America's moral leadership is acknowledging when we've made mistakes or been proven wrong -- and showing that we have the creativity and guts to make it right.
Which is what this crappy blog has been saying for over two years: We shouldn't be in Iraq at all because the administration's rationale for war was a lie, but now that we're there, we have a responsibility to fix what we broke. Edwards says, and he's absolutely right, that we've got to acknowledge what the United States is capable of and what it isn't, and we need to proceed without being hampered by pre-conceived notions, or by declaring certain ideas off-limits before we start.

It seems to me that this single op-ed piece could help turn Edwards into the anti-Hillary for 2008. As you may remember, I was not an Edwards fan during the '04 primaries, pegging him as a lightweight who was actually running for vice-president the whole time. But in the fall campaign, he started looking like a man with a mojo--and an economic message that Kerry was foolish not to embrace word-for-word. He's been polishing up the economic message over the last year--and now he's had his come-to-Jesus moment on Iraq, too. I suspect he may not be the last to do so.

Not that I don't still love me some Russ Feingold or anything. There's a profile of Feingold in The New Republic that is a pretty good roadmap of his career--his vote to confirm John Roberts is only one instance in which he's offended some Democrats and puzzled many more. For example, during the Clinton impeachment, West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd put forth a resolution to dismiss the charges and end the whole circus, but Feingold was the only Democrat to vote against it, arguing that the impeachment process existed, and right or wrong, the Repug majority had the right to use it. It's just another instance in which Feingold has stuck to his own principles even when they conflict with the political "imperatives" of the Democratic Party, a tendency that is liable to make the nomination fight fairly uncomfortable for Feingold at times. (The New Republic requires free registration to use their site. Enter username tnrin and password tnrin1, courtesy of bugmenot.com)

Birthday Card: Today's the fifth birthday of Talking Points Memo, one of the most widely read and influential blogs on the left. Reading it will make you smarter. It's always worked for me.

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