Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 628
John Edwards today put up an ad in the D.C. market (and on YouTube) to urge Congress (and the four senators in it who are competing with him for the nomination) to stand up against the administration and vote to override President Bush's veto. All the other candidates have probably been thinking along the same lines about this, but today Chris Dodd came right out and said it:
"As Senator Dodd was the first candidate to support the Reid-Feingold measure, we agree that Democrats in the Senate should stand up to a President who stubbornly refuses to change his failed policy in Iraq," said [Dodd spokesperson] Christy Setzer. "We wish that Senator Edwards was still in the Senate for this important fight."
Setzer added: "If we can't get his vote in the Senate, of course we would welcome Senator Edwards ' support for Senator Dodd's plan, which would safely re-deploy our troops and bring an end to this war within one year rather than the incremental eighteen-month approach he has proposed."
In other words, Dodd is calling Edwards out for throwing stones at him (and Clinton, Obama and Biden into the bargain) from the sidelines while not putting any skin in the fight himself. All well and good, Dodd is evidently saying, to vote to authorize the war and then cop a mea culpa for it after leaving office (and any electoral responsibility for the consequences), but what are you actually in a position to do about the war, not after you're elected president, but right now?
Does Chris Dodd have a point? Maybe so. John Edwards knew before releasing this ad what everyone else knows, too: that with but few exceptions, Democrats in Congress would vote to override the veto. That was never in question, and to put up an ad that suggests otherwise was disingenuous and unfair.
But there is a larger point, and episodes like this one cause me to wonder whether Dodd, or Edwards, or anyone else in the field sees it: regardless of past actions on the war and the numerous apologies meant to assuage responsibility for them, the fight now is about curbing President Bush's ability to do further harm to the interests of the United States and the entire world. Sniping over the airwaves won't get this done. Every Democratic candidate for President should - and does - vigorously oppose this war and seeks to bring it to an end. There are different ideas about how best to do that, but that discussion must not be allowed to distract from the challenge at hand: rising above the political temptations of the moment in order to deliver a responsible way out of the historic tragedy of our Iraq misadventure. Let's keep our eye on the ball.