One of the truisms of the Democratic race is that, given his 2002 speech opposing war with Iraq and his subsequent condemnations of the actions of the Bush administration, Barack Obama has an edge over Hillary Clinton on the issue due to his ‘superior judgment’ in speaking out against the war Senator Clinton supported.

Oh, really?

Senator Obama spoke out vigorously against the war when it was nearly unanimously believed that (1) Iraq possessed WMD, and (2) Iraq had strong ties to al-Qaeda. Additionally, the American public overwhelmingly supported war with Iraq.

Obama opposed the war even knowing the first two factors. Thus, the only proper narrative by which his judgment can be evaluated is a scenario in which WMD were indeed found in Iraq and Saddam Hussein’s regime’s ties to al-Qaeda were affirmed. Otherwise, we’re just calling the man a psychic (a feat I wouldn’t put past his personality cult).

So what Senator Obama is really claiming is that Senator Clinton — and a supermajority of the American public — possessed poor judgment when deciding that America should take action against a regime that supported al-Qaeda and possessed WMD. Those were the terms by which he opposed the war. Those are the terms by which his judgment must be evaluated.

That is a damning narrative that can be employed by Senators Clinton and McCain, but in the realm of logic, it is a step ahead of what Americans are used to hearing from political campaigns. There are little things that have to be explained away, sources that have to be cited — and poorly executing such a narrative in the public realm could backfire. It’s up to the ad wizards in the camps of the Obama rivals to figure out how to properly convey this message to the public. But it’s one worth hearing, because it is a message that could sink Obama’s sole action-based trump card in the election. He does not, by the standards of the American people, possess superior judgment on the issue, given those terms.

Comments