Both Mr. Edwards and Mr. Kerry voted for the resolution authorizing Mr. Bush to go to war. In the interview, they declined to say whether they agreed with other pro-war Democratic senators who said on Friday that they would have voted against the resolution had they known then what was contained in the Senate Intelligence Committee report.
"I'm not going to go back and answer hypothetical questions about what I would have done had I known this," Mr. Edwards said.
Mr. Kerry said: "The vote is not today and that's it. I completely agree with John Edwards."
kerry and edwards' dodge here is disgraceful. first, if they want the public to elect them into office, its legitimate for the public to ask under what circumstances they would decide to go to war. this is one of (if not the) most important power of the presidency and probably the biggest reason that i cannot support bush is because of his decision to invade iraq. it's important for me to know whether kerry-edwards would be any better
second, this only confirms that kerry and edwards plan to largely ignore the left in their campaign. for whatever reason, the republicans always try to campaign to their base (pandering to the religious right, for example), the democrats always try to campaign to the center. it's pretty clear to me that the republican strategy is more effective in the long term. by rallying their base, they get more of them to the polls and, in the long term, because the debate in each election is about issues that interest the right, the political center in this country moves rightward. when democrats campaign only to the centrists, on the other hand, the liberal base reluctantly goes along, their turnout is lower or they are wooed away by the greens and/or nader. and in the long run because democrats are the one talking about centrist positions (e.g. nafta with toothless labor and environmental side agreements), those centrist positions get characterized as "liberal." this further facilitates a move of the political center to the right.
when i read the above passage, it makes me more sympathetic to what nader is trying to do. only when the democrats realize that they cannot take the left for granted will they abandon their current strategy. i'm still not going to vote for nader, mind you. but i see more value in his project when the dems act like this.
the truly stupid thing is that kerry and edwards blew a perfect opportunity to clarify their position on the war in iraq and to explain their votes to authorize the war last fall. sharing the front page with the article that quotes the democratic candidates was this article summarizing the conclusions of the senate panel on pre-war intelligence. the panel found that american intelligence: (1) discounted evidence that iraq had suspended its weapons programs and exaggerated the value of dubious evidence supporting the continuation of the programs, (2) concluded that ties to al qaeda were "tenuous", and (3) since 1999 the iraqi military was so weakened and demoralized, it was unlikely to be much of a threat to its neighbors. in other words, this report gives kerry and edwards plenty of ammunition to say that, given what we know now, they would not have supported the war. virtually every reason cited by the bush administration to justify the war has been cast into doubt by the report.
why is this too much to hope for from the democratic candidates?