This election isn't about who has passed the Commander in Chief threshold. It's about who has failed it.
Both Hillary Clinton and John McCain had access to the enormous intelligence gathering resources before voting in September, 2001 to authorize the use of military force in Iraq. Each of them had an opportunity to display the intelligence and courage required to stand up to the wartime sentiment fueled by the Bush Administration and its friends in the traditional media.
In what Senator Obama has properly characterized as the most significant foreign policy decision facing our nation during the Bush administration, even with ample time and practically unlimited resources to reach the correct decision on the facts, both McCain and Clinton failed to do so.
There's no reason to deconstruct McCain's decision here, but it's important to examine Clinton's, since she's the one who's invented and pushed this "Commander in Chief" threshold.
Senator Clinton, why did you fail to reach the correct decision? Were you:
- In favor of depriving China of Iraqi oil?
- Persuaded that Iraq really possessed weapons of mass destruction?
- Afraid of negative political repercussions that might follow a vote against AUMF?
- Confused about where al Qaeda might be operating?
- Anxious to ensure that Iran would, at the end of the day, have much greater influence in Iraq?
- Unconcerned about the loss of life, both of our soldiers and Iraqi soldiers and civilians?
- Willing to believe that George W. Bush could be promoting war in Iraq in good faith?
- Some of the above?
- All of the above?
I'm sorry, but saying that merely because you voted to authorize the use of military force doesn't mean you expected Bush would use it, without more, just doesn't parse. Even if you seriously believed that, and it's not just campaign spin now, that is the most telling indictment of your qualifications to become Commanded in Chief.
So to recap, Senator Clinton, you had months and months to decide whether you were going to vote to allow the US to wage war in Iraq. You had access to intelligence and, supposedly, 8 years on the firing line in the White House as First Lady watching the vast right wing conspiracy that you identified so many years ago. You knew, or should have known, precisely what the other side is capable of doing. And yet, even with all of that experience and time to study, you still couldn't reach the correct decision on that vote.
So if your judgment is so flawed that you can't make the right choice after months of study, why should anybody believe that you can instantaneously make the correct decision at 3:00 am?
You have failed the threshold you invented.
Barack Obama, on the other hand, came to the correct conclusion, without having access to all the Washington inside information. He was brave enough to take a stand that was unpopular nationally. Had Iraq possessed WMDs or an incipient nuclear program, Obama's national political career would have likely been finished.
Barack Obama took a principled, intelligent, insightful and courageous stand at great political risk to himself. That is the real Commander in Chief threshold.