On Wednesday, May 24th, we learned the meaning of the word "hypocrisy." The Senate voted 80-14 to approve funding for the next two months in Iraq without any restrictions or mandated withdrawal of troops. Thirty-eight Democrats voted to fund our troops, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). But three of the four Democrats who are running for president -- Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Barack Obama (D-Ill), and Chris Dodd (D-CT) -- all voted with eleven other Senators to deny funding to the war.
If they weren't running for president, perhaps Barack Obama and Chris Dodd, who have long been in opposition to the war, would have voted against funding anyway. But would Hillary Clinton have voted with the minority to cut off funds? Not on your life! Only Joe Biden (D-Del) had the integrity to vote the way he would normally have voted were he not a candidate and backed the appropriations bill.
The hypocrisy of Hillary Clinton in voting against funding is stunning. In 2002, she voted for the war. When we found no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, she reaffirmed her backing for the war. Dozens of times she has stated and restated that she would never agree to a timetable for withdrawal and that she would never vote to cut off funding while we had troops in harm's way. Now she has gone back on all her nevers and cast precisely the vote she said she would never cast.
As recently as January 17th, Hillary said "I'm not going to cut American troops' funding right now – they're in harm's way." She went onto say "I am not for imposing a date – certain withdrawal date."
In the past ten days she has not only voted for a withdrawal date but has also voted to cut off funding for the troops if no such date is included in the legislation.
What has changed? The polls. Surveys show Democrats supporting a funding cutoff and a date certain for withdrawal by 3:1. With John Edwards running to Hillary's left, using her timidity in opposing the war as the raison d'etre of his candidacy, Hillary dared not vote her conscience or conform to her previous positions on the war. She had to back the left to prove her bona fides for the primaries.
John Edwards, in the meantime, dismissed talk of the "war on terror" as a slogan for a "bumper sticker." In doing so, he inadvertently illustrated the fundamental difference between the parties on the terrorist issue. To Republicans, it is a real war, even more so than World War I or Korea or Vietnam. In this war on terror, we were attacked by surprise just as happened at Pearl Harbor. To Republicans, December 7, 1941 and September 11, 2001 are parallel dates.
But to Democrats of the John Edwards ilk, the war on terror is more akin to the war on poverty or the war on drugs, a slogan meant to emphasize how seriously we take the policy commitment. But he takes great pains to distinguish it from a real war by consigning it to the realm of the bumper sticker. At least one Democrat said what he really believed.
But pragmatically, Hillary's vote probably assures that she will win the nomination. It certainly cuts the ground out from under John Edwards and leaves her in a two-way race for the nomination with Obama. But by taking the ultimate step of voting to cut off funding, Hillary is hugging the left rail on the Iraq issue and assuring that nobody can outflank her.
On May 24th, we saw Hillary at her opportunistic worst. But we better get used to it.