Senator Hillary Clinton and neoconservative blogger Andrew Sullivan share more than a belief that “Jesus, Mohamed, and Socrates are part of the same search for truth.” They’re both Christians who won’t confess to their sins.
Both were enthusiastic supporters of Bush’s invasion of Iraq, turned scathing and sanctimonious critics of the war. Neither has quite come clean. Both ought to prostrate themselves before those they’ve bamboozled, those they’ve helped indirectly kill, and whichever deity they worship. (The Jesus-Mohamed-and-Socrates profanity, incidentally, was imparted by Sullivan, during a remarkably rude interview he gave Hugh Hewitt. The gay activist-cum-philosopher king was insolent; Hewitt took it .)
I won’t bore you with the hackneyed war hoaxes Sullivan once spewed, only to say that there was not an occurrence he didn’t trace back to Iraq: anthrax, September 11, and too few gays in the military—you name it; Iraq was behind it. Without minimizing the role of politicians like Clinton, who signed the marching orders, neoconservative pundits like Sullivan provided the intellectual edifice for the war, also inspiring impressionable young men and women to sacrifice their lives and limbs to the insatiable Iraq Moloch.
For her part, Clinton the turncoat has refused to atone for her role in the prosecution of an unjust war. During the Democratic presidential candidates’ debate in New Hampshire, she was asked whether she regretted “voting to authorize the president’s use of force against Saddam Hussein in Iraq without actually reading the national intelligence estimate, the classified document laying out the best U.S. intelligence at that time.” Her reply: “I feel like I was totally briefed. [Expect the “I-feel-like” locution to proliferate if a woman is ensconced in the White House.] I knew all the arguments. I knew all of what the Defense Department, the CIA, the State Department were all saying. And I sought dissenting opinions, as well as talking to people in previous administrations and outside experts.”
Clinton is claiming to have possessed perfect knowledge from which she managed somehow to derive less than perfect conclusions, and for which she blames Bush! In authorizing Bush to go to war, the knavish Clinton insists that she believed (or rather “felt like”) the president would first let Dr. Mohammed ElBaradei and his team of weapons inspectors search for WMD, a task they were performing at the time of the invasion, and only then invade Iraq. But Bush played a trick on her. He switched his strategy. Instead of searching for WMD first and then invading, Bush invaded and then searched for WMD. Poor Polly; she didn’t suspect the president had demanded powers that were not constitutionally his—the power to commit the country to war belongs to Congress—because he wanted to … go to war.
Here’s what’s really happening. Those who were 100 percent wrong on the Iraq war want to, somehow, retain their credibility and pretend that those of us who got it 100 percent right did so by coincidence. Not if I can help it. Like the remarkable Rep. Ron Paul, opponents of the invasion were right because we cleaved to the kind of intellectual and moral principles that were immutably true before Sept. 11, after it, and forever after.
Objective reality was a start: Iraq was an economically desperate, secular dictatorship, utterly antagonistic to Islamic fundamentalism. At the time of the invasion, it had acquiesced to inspectors, was being criss-crossed by teams of them, hadn’t any ties to al-Qaida or a hand in Sept. 11; was a Third-World nation, whose military prowess was a fifth of what it was when hobbled during the Gulf War. It had no navy or air force, and was no threat to American national security.
If objective reality proved problematic for the skittish Sullivan, as a Catholic, he might have deferred to the traditions of natural law and just war. If the natural prohibition against aggressive, unprovoked wars also struck Sullivan as unintuitive, he ought to have contemplated what the Founding Fathers provided. A limited, constitutional republican government, by definition, can never pursue the kind of 21st-century Manifest Destiny Bush was chasing. If it does, it is destined to become limitless, unconstitutional, and dictatorial.
To be fair, Sullivan did bury in a Time Magazine column an expression of “a real sense of shame and sorrow that so many have died because of errors made by their superiors, and by writers like me.” This alone makes him infinitely nobler than Clinton, for what that’s worth. Both ought to credit their betters—pundits and a presidential candidate—for not becoming mired in moral and intellectual confusion.
The Roman author Syrus said that “to confess a fault freely is the next thing to being innocent of it.” Sullivan, Clinton—and the many other former war proponents now posing as veteran opponents of the invasion—have skipped what ought to have been a public confession.
© 2007 By Ilana Mercer