Wednesday, June 04, 2008

It's finally over (I think?). As much as we'd like the attention to turn fully to the November election, with needed and deserved criticism to start heading McCain's way as opposed to Hillary's, what's sometimes lost in the drama is the fact that this was a very close race, and while Hillary has been mathematically out of it for some time, it's only been by a narrow margin. What could've been the issue that turned against her to cede just enough ground to Obama? I agree with Neil Sinhababu: Iraq.
Perhaps the most under-remarked fact about the Democratic primary is that if Hillary Clinton had Obama's foresight on the Iraq War, she'd be our nominee today and he probably wouldn't have bothered to run. She had the profile to become the leader of the doves in the Senate, a position that would've gained value dramatically as the war turned out to be a disaster. There might've been a challenge from the right, but she would've consolidated left-wing support and won easily. Instead, she became one of the more hawkish Democrats in the Senate, and was probably the most hawkish figure onstage during the Democratic debates. Without even seriously repenting her mistaken vote on the biggest foreign policy question of our time, it's a surprise that she got as far as she did.
Yes, she had other problems, no doubt, but this vote clearly didn't help her from the get-go and Obama's ability to say he's been against the war all along enabled him to differentiate from the others in a very stark and popular way.

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