The Contours of "Judgment"

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Mar 01, 2008 12:16 PM
Barack Obama's all-purpose answer to questions about his foreign policy experience is "judgment."  His campaign asks, as his recent ad put it, "Shouldn't the President be the one -- the only one -- who had judgment and courage to oppose the Iraq war from the start?"  It concludes that, "In a dangerous world, it's judgment that matters."

Well, if that's the case, it seems eminently fair to ask a few questions about the contours of Barack's judgment about the Iraq war.  What's never been clear is whether he opposed the war because -- contrary to the consensus of intelligence services across the world -- he somehow knew that Saddam had no WMD, or whether it was because he believed the war wasn't worth it even if our worst fears about Saddam were true. 

Shouldn't someone in the press be trying to find out?   If he would have opposed the war even if Saddam had had WMD and was willing to give them to other anti-American terrorists (our worst case scenario), that's significant -- and scary.  If his "superior judgment" led him to dismiss the intelligence reports, what will be his criteria as President for evaluating future threats?

Finally, even if one were to concede that his position was correct, is this one judgment really enough of a track record to qualify him to be Commander-in-Chief?  After all, I might be able to predict which contestant is going to win this year's American Idol, but that doesn't make me Quincy Jones-- or even Simon Cowell.  It makes me the happy beneficiary of a lucky guess, validated by many events and decisions over which I had neither knowledge nor control.