William Kristol on a “Commander-in-Chief’s Moment”
Last week, Kristol raked Barack Obama over the coals for not having specifically included military service as part of ”public service” in a commencement speech the Senator gave at Wesleyan.
In his much awaited, once-a-week column in the New York Times this morning (“A Campaign We Can Believe In?”), Kristol tries another tack.
First, and rightly so, he deplores the fact that McCain “read a disjointed set of remarks at a badly staged rally at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner, La.” A speech that McCain used as an attempt to try to upstage Obama’s victory speech that he would deliver an hour later in a packed sports arena in St. Paul, Minn. (Kristol and Republicans actually seem to be more upset about “the now-notorious green backdrop behind McCain.” An e-mail message Kristol received as McCain was speaking, from a Republican who admires McCain, said in part, “Dumb green puke background, small crowd … Makes me want to cry.”)
After getting over the dumb, green puke background, Kristol feigns praise for Obama’s speech: “His speech was well written and well delivered.” “It was lofty oratory, exciting and even moving.” And, “In his evocation of healing powers and dominion over the waters, Obama summons up echoes of the Gospels and Genesis.”
As expected, Kristol then proceeds to deride and ridicule Obama’s words. In doing so, he still can’t let go of his critique of Obama’s Wesleyan speech: “His comment a week earlier at Wesleyan, that ‘our individual salvation depends on collective salvation,’ I might add, would seem at odds with much of Christian teaching. But I’ll let Obama take that up with his minister.”
What I found really interesting in Kristol’s much awaited column was his statement: “Early 2007 was as close as we’re going to get to a commander in chief moment for Senators McCain and Obama. They had to make a judgment in a difficult real-world situation — not on the healed planet of Obama’s dreams. With the Iraq war going badly, McCain took the lead in calling for a change in military strategy and a surge of troops. Obama, by contrast, went along with his party in urging withdrawal. Now, 18 months later, McCain seems pretty clearly to have been right.”
If we are going to talk about making judgments “in a difficult real-world situation,” let’s go back to a “situation” that was truly difficult and couldn’t have been more “real world.” That was a “situation” back in October 2002, when Senator McCain was asked to make a judgment on an issue that can not be more difficult, one that can not be more grave: Whether to take our nation to war.
This “situation” was called “A joint resolution to authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq” and was voted on in the U.S. Senate on October 11, 2002.
Senator McCain voted “Yea.” Senator Obama has consistently opposed it and condemned it.
You know the rest of the story, and the consequences.