I have been a very strong advocate of treating Senator Clinton, not only fairly but with the respect due her, given her contribution to the party and our nation. That said, I have throughout harbored a real concern about her Iraq resolution vote. I feel that it was a major mistake and that she has not been able to come to terms with it nor been clear with the nation regarding it. More telling, and perhaps more troubling to me, was her vote on the 2002 Levin Amendment, a rational alternative to her mistaken vote which would have probably saved her from the problems she is entangled almost hopelessly now. The Levin amendment was fully in keeping with the position that she said held and still says she holds.
This whole matter keeps me from fully committing to her despite the fact I think she would make a fine President. I can't seem to accept her explanations and it makes me question the premise of her campaign: her readiness to lead immediately. We have a right to expect a higher level of accountability and I'm still waiting for a proper explanation.
Below I have excerpted a transcript of Senator Levin's address to the Senate on his amendment and then Senator Clinton in her own words and analyzed by the one and only Keith Olbermann:
"Mr. President, I rise today to speak in support of my alternative resolution and to explain why I believe it is the right way to go, rather than the White House resolution.
At the outset, it must be noted that, whatever differences there may be among us, the one thing on which we can all agree upon is that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the Middle East. He has used weapons of mass destruction against his own people and against Iran; he has launched invasions of Iran and Kuwait; and for the last eleven years he has defied the will of the entire world as expressed in United Nations Security Council resolutions by refusing to destroy his weapons of mass destruction and prohibited ballistic missiles.
Another point on which I believe there is consensus among the Members of the Senate is the fact that confronting the threat posed by Saddam Hussein could ultimately lead to committing U.S. military forces, including ground forces, into combat and that the vote we take on a resolution relating to Iraq may be the most important vote we make this year.
Whether we commit our forces to attack Iraq as part of a United Nations authorized coalition or whether we go it alone could have immense consequences for our security and for future peace and stability in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East and beyond.
And that's why I am introducing this alternative resolution. The resolution that was agreed between the White House and the House leadership fails to address the two main problems with the original White House discussion draft. Those problems are:
* The White House compromise still specifically authorizes at this time the use of force on a unilateral, "go it alone" basis, that is - without U.N. Security Council authorization; and
* It authorizes the use of force beyond dealing with Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.
My resolution is consistent with how I think Americans want us to proceed. It emphasizes the importance of dealing with Iraq on a multilateral basis, and withholds judgment at this time on the question of whether the United States should "go it alone" unilaterally against Iraq, should the United Nations fail to act.
What my alternative resolution does is as follows:
1) It urges the U.N. Security Council to adopt promptly a resolution that:
* Demands unconditional access for U.N. inspectors so that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and prohibited ballistic missiles may be destroyed; and
* Within the same U.N. resolution, authorizes the use of necessary and appropriate force by U.N. member states to enforce such resolution in the event Iraq refuses to comply.
2) It also specifically authorizes the use of United States Armed Forces pursuant to that U.N. Security Council resolution if Iraq fails to comply with its terms, provided the President informs the Congress of his determination that the United States has used appropriate diplomatic and other peaceful means to obtain compliance by Iraq with such U.N. resolution.
3) My resolution affirms that, under international law and the U.N. Charter, the United States has at all times the inherent right to use military force in self-defense, affirming the fact that there is no U.N. veto over U.S. military action.
4) My resolution affirms that Congress will not adjourn sine die so that Congress can return to session to consider promptly proposals relative to Iraq if, in the judgment of the President, the U.N. Security Council does not adopt the resolution mentioned earlier.
5) Finally, my resolution provides that the President report to Congress every 60 days on the status of efforts to have the U.N. Security Council adopt such a resolution and, if such a resolution is adopted, to obtain compliance by Iraq with the resolution.[...] "