Listening to Democratic politicians talk about Iraq these days is alot like when an old boyfriend — who seemed to be just not that into you before — suddenly starts calling again, singing a different tune, and with a lot more sweet talk than before. It’s flattering in a way, and a little vindication certainly feels good. It’s just hard to shake the sense of disappointment that they didn’t come round sooner.
The latest former suitor phoning it in is former candidate for Vice President, John Edwards.
I was wrong.
Almost three years ago we went into Iraq to remove what we were told — and what many of us believed and argued — was a threat to America. But in fact we now know that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction when our forces invaded Iraq in 2003. The intelligence was deeply flawed and, in some cases, manipulated to fit a political agenda.
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.
He has a bit more to say in this profile from The Nation.
In an interview after the UNC speech, Edwards finally utters the words he’d assiduously avoided during the last campaign: “I voted for the resolution,” he says. “It was a mistake.” So far, so good. But he goes on, “The hard question is, What do you do now? Looking back, it’s easy to say that it was wrong and based on false information. Anybody who doesn’t admit that isn’t honest, and that’s the truth.” So what now? “I myself feel conflicted about it,” Edwards replies. “But we have to find ways–and I don’t mean just yanking all the troops tomorrow–but we have to find ways to start bringing our troops home. Our presence there is clearly contributing to the problem.” So does he agree with Senator Russ Feingold that Washington should set a withdrawal deadline? “No. Even if we’re going to say that internally, that we’re gonna have our troops out by X date, there’s no reason to announce that to the world. I think that’s probably a mistake.” He doesn’t agree, either, with Senator Clinton’s call for more US troops to finish the job? “No sir!” Edwards says, sitting straight up in his chair. “Did she really say that?”
First, Kerry finds his voice on Iraq well after November, then Gephardt also comes around. Now here’s comes little Johnny Edwards, hat in hand. It’s nice that they’ve come around, but I gotta ask where was all of this when it might have mattered more? It’s a bit easier now to speak up when the president’s rating are in the toilet and a majority thinks he’s dishonest. But it takes a real pair of stones to speak up when facing an immensely popular president, hell bent on war, and the simple truth is that when it came right down to it these guys just didn’t have the yarbles.
But, again, with Edwards it’s the old rebounding ex-boyfriend thing. I mean, it’s definitely nice to hear from him again, especially since the current marriage arranged by the other 51% isn’t going all that swimmingly. It’s clear he has designs on the future, with visions of 2008 dancing in his head, and saying all the stuff we wished he’d said years ago. And it’s not like there are any great prospective suitors lined up at the moment.
So maybe it’s OK to invite him back in just to see how things go, and if he’s really changed. But it’s probably also a good idea to keep a bit of daylight between us, one eye on the door, and one foot always on the floor.