A cartoon from the Charlotte Observer, in response to a column Senator John Edwards wrote for the Washington Post about his vote in favor of the war in Iraq.
"I was wrong," he said.
The first Democrat I've seen express anything close to personal responsibility by fessing up to being part of the decision. Most of them have a pretty bad case of
selective amnesia, continuously regurgitating the "Bush lied" blather.
And while that type of personal responsibility and candor is refreshing from a politician of any stripe, I'm afraid Mr. Edwards is still wrong in his conclusions.
He says the war is wrong because the intelligence was wrong, but frankly the intelligence was only wrong in terms of the quantity of WMD Saddam continued to possess -- not on whether he continued to possess them at all.
The substance of the intelligence estimates and the conclusions coming from them remain correct, borne out by the subsequent analysis and review showing:
-- Saddam continued to conceal the means, capabilities and materials (including biological agent seed stocks, chemical precursors for making weapons, materials and technology for making nuclear weapons, missile technology, and WMD manufacturing facilities, as well as lots of money and people with the education and training to make WMD) for reconstituting his WMD programs on any scale at a time of his choosing. This was a direct violation of the Gulf War Peace Accords;
-- Saddam continued to be a horrific human rights abuser, also a violation of the accords;
-- Saddam was greatly profiting from wholly corrupt U.N. Oil for Food program, using his gains to preserve his WMD capabilities, also a violation;
-- Saddam was an ardent supporter of international terrorists and remained a threat to his neighbors and the international community at large, also a violation.
The conclusion: 10 years of sanctions and on-again/off-again weapons inspections were an utter failure. We were going to end up taking Saddam on head-to-head eventually; better to do so at a time of our choosing.
As opposed to, say, after he provided terrorists with a briefcase full of anthrax spores to deliver to the New York City Subways.
I met John Edwards once -- back in 1996, when he was still working as a very successful trial lawyer in North Carolina. My wife was called as a witness in one of his cases -- a little girl injured in a pool accident. Nice guy, seemed pretty bright.
He won that case, setting precedent in NC for the highest jury award in a personal injury case. At that point, his fortune made, he retired from practicing law and entered politics.
So if he comes across as a bit of a dilettante in politics, I suspect it's because he is.