Sen. Clinton said she has "worked to bring people together, to find common ground where we can." My follow-up question would have been, "Your husband's former top aide, George Stephanopoulos, wrote in his 1999 book, "All Too Human," "Compromise didn't come naturally to Hillary"; and New York Times columnist David Brooks observed, "Clinton is the only presidential candidate who does not offer a break from the current polarization and bitter partisanship." What do these men see in you that you are trying to hide from everyone else?
Sen. Obama, who likes to remind us he opposed the war before he was a senator, said he wants U.S. combat troops out of Iraq by March 31, 2008. That such a rapid withdrawal is militarily impossible apparently escaped him, just as his earlier statements escaped moderator Anderson Cooper. In a June 21, 2006 Senate speech, Obama said, "Šhaving visited Iraq, I am acutely aware that a precipitous withdrawal of our troops, driven by congressional edict rather than the realities on the ground, will not undo the mistakes. Š It could compound them Š by plunging Iraq into an even deeper and, perhaps, irreparable crisis." Did that crisis evaporate, senator, or are you feeling more heat from left-wing groups like MoveOn.org than our brave soldiers are feeling from the enemy? If you can't stand up to the radical left in America, how will you be able to stand up to radical terrorists?
Politicians should not be allowed to escape past statements and positions, especially when they were once billed as strong convictions. They ought to be required in a debate format to confront those statements and tell the public why it shouldn't believe they weren't convictions at all, but responses to polls and the desire to get elected by whatever means necessary.
Don't look for me to be invited to ask any of these questions in future debates. Politicians rely on the public's short attention span and such questions would expose their lack of sincerity and their view of government as the answer to every human need, except winning the war.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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