April 17, 2008

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There was a substantive point during Wednesday's debate that got missed by many in the deserved outrage over the hackery of the first hour. As I watched the debate, it was the single point at which I was tempted to throw my shoe at the screen, not only at the framing of the question by moderator George Stephanopoulos, but by the answers by Barack Obama and especially, Hillary Clinton. That question was over the issue of Iran. Stephanopoulos prefaced his question with the long-debunked but still oft-repeated neo-con talking point that Iran has threatened Israel and then continued with the assumption that Iran is still pursuing a nuclear program, a factoid directly contradicted by the NIE report the White House famously sought to suppress.

Apparently, the White House was so successful in obfuscating the findings of that NIE report that neither the News Division of a major network, nor the Senators sitting on the Armed Services (Hillary Clinton) or Foreign Relations/Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (Barack Obama), were aware of the findings. Sadly, both were completely comfortable, as Rachel Maddow put it, to further a talking point created by Charles Krauthammer. Krauthammer is one of the many Neo-con war cheerleaders who has far too influential a reach for someone who has been so completely and utterly wrong on their Middle East plan. Obama, while a little more measured in his speech, did not reject the framing posed to him and said that "all options are on the table." Clinton all but declared her intention to attack Iran, repeating that we could not allow Iran the right to develop a nuclear program.

A little history lesson for those determined to ignore it: Iran has NEVER attacked another country. Has never threatened to attack another country. The ruling mullahs have found nuclear weapons to be against the teachings of peace in the Koran and in fact, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah put together a foreign policy council to curtail Ahmadinejad's powers as he has recognized Ahmadinejad's tendency to be confrontational. I profess no special knowledge of Iran other than what I've studied using credible sources. If I can figure this stuff out and sort through the White House spin, what is Obama's and Clinton's excuse? I realize that expecting ABC to sort through the spin is more than we can hope from a news organization nowadays.

There is a conventional wisdom that a Democrat must appear to be as hawkish -- or more so -- than a Republican to appear credible on national security issues. However, given that these pre-emptive aggressions in the Middle East already advocated by Neo-con policy makers has resulted in making us less safe, is it too much to ask that our Democratic candidates show that they aren't as mindless and uninformed as the current President and not threaten another country that does not pose a direct threat to us and stop accepting and running with right-wing talking points?

Maybe they could have said something like Rep. Lynn Woolsey did yesterday on the House floor: (h/t BillW for tip)

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