Deconstructing the "Judgment" Meme

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Feb 29, 2008 11:42 AM
Below, Mary Katharine has posted Barack Obama's campaign ad featuring General Merrill McPeak extolling Barack's "judgment" in opposing the war in Iraq from the beginning.  That, of course, has been the all-purpose response to Clintonian charges of inexperience when it comes to foreign policy.

But if "judgment" in one case is all he's able to offer, it's fair to examine the contours of it.  The United States -- and the world in general -- thought Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction he might be willing to give to other terrorists, and perhaps was even in the process of obtaining nuclear weapons.  Why hasn't Barack answered this question: If everything we had feared about Saddam's cache of WMD -- and his willingness to use it -- had been true, would it still have been a mistake to go to war?

Barack has said in the past that he doesn't oppose all wars -- just "dumb wars."  So when he claims superior judgment, is he arguing that he somehow knew that Saddam didn't have the weapons that intelligence services throughout the world thought he had, or that it was "dumb" to remove Saddam from power even if our worst case scenarios about his intentions and capabilities had been true?  And now that the situation in Iraq is improving, does he still believe that the difficulties would have outweighed the threat had the worst case scenarios been true?

Finally, even if one were to concede that Barack's judgment was correct when it came to the Iraq war, a single correct call hardly establishes an extensive track record for an aspiring Commander-in-Chief.  My "judgment" about who's going to win American Idol might turn out to be correct this season, but that doesn't make me Quincy Jones (or even Simon Cowell), does it?