By Dick Morris
December 03, 2003
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has just returned from a badwill tour of Iraq, seeking to use the façade of saluting the troops and sharing their Thanksgiving to undermine the political support for their mission.
Using Iraq as a pulpit, she attacked Bush for having been "obsessed with Saddam Hussein for more than a decade." If only her husband had shared that obsession, Saddam would not have been permitted to rearm with oil revenues that President Clinton let him have and freed from inspectors that the Clinton administration let him kick out.
It is fine for a U.S. senator to go to Iraq to see for herself what the conditions are over there. It is even OK to get the taxpayers to foot the bill for the trip on military aircraft. She is, after all, a member of the Armed Services Committee in the Senate.
What is not OK is to attack the president while you are there or to use your visit as a platform to criticize the war effort and the Pentagon. There is plenty of opportunity for that after one is home, out of earshot of the troops who must fight this war.
The classy thing for Hillary to have done would have been to go to Iraq, say nothing but supportive things to the troops, make a point of avoiding criticism of Bush - and then unloose a salvo on arriving home.
Hillary doubtless went to Iraq because she figured Bush would be at home eating turkey and she enjoyed the idea of the contrast. But when the president upstaged her, she shouldn't have ventured out and used the visit to attack the war effort as she was visiting it.
The senator told the troops that while "Americans are proud" of them, "many question the administration's policies." Being told that you might die in a war that is under attack by people back home must be a great stimulant to combat morale. How sensitive of her to have shared that particular message with men and women who must face death to execute these policies.
She also made sure to plant doubts among the troops about the ability of their commanders, saying that "the obstacles and problems are much greater than the administration usually admits to."
With Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for a friend, American soldiers don't need any more enemies.
The core of Sen. Clinton's argument, echoed by her pet poodle, Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), is a call for more troops for Iraq. "The Pentagon tried to make do with as few troops as possible," Clinton said, "as light a footprint as they could get away with. Now we're playing Catch-up." Sen. Reed, who voted against the war resolution, now wants to send even more troops as well.
Democrats are determined to make the political cost of this war more onerous and burdensome on the Republican president. By harping on the need for more manpower, they build the pressure with each combat death. If the Democrats can sell the proposition that more troops are needed, they can force Bush to move toward conscription to fill the ranks.
Fortunately, Hillary's visit was drowned out by Bush's voyage to Baghdad. The liberal media tried to couple the two visits. The New York Times' headline was "Hail to the Chief; Hail to the Senator." But the visits are hardly comparable. Bush's was designed to raise morale, Hillary's to raise objections.
Bush sought to assure the troops of the united support of the people. Hillary wanted them to know that many people objected to what they are trying to do.
Bush's message was that we will persevere in the face of terrorism. Hillary's was that this war was due to one man's "obsession."
Sen. Clinton will do anything
she can to attract attention and, where possible, divert it from
the Democrats who are really running for president. But this
trip, at this time, in this manner, in that place was wrong politically
Dick Morris was an adviser to Bill Clinton for 20 years. Morris is a political consultant, commentator and best selling author. Look for his newest book, "Power Plays" and his new book, "Off With Their Heads - Traitors, Crooks & Obstructionists In American Politics".
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