From her Senate website here’s Senator Hillary Clinton’s Oct. 30 statement on her opposition to the nomination of Judge Michael Mukasey to be Attorney General of the United States followed by my comments below the star line:
We need an Attorney General who has the strength to challenge this Administration when it is wrong, who is committed to reestablishing the independence of the Department of Justice and to restoring respect for the Constitution and the rule of law. I am deeply troubled by Judge Mukasey’s continued unwillingness to clearly state his views on torture and unchecked Executive power.
The Attorney General is the chief defender of the rule of law in our country. After Alberto Gonzales's troubled tenure, we cannot send a signal that the next Attorney General in any way condones torture or believes that the President is unconstrained by law.
When we leave any doubt about our nation’s policy on torture, we send a terrible message to the rest of the world. Judge Mukasey has been given ample opportunity – both at his confirmation hearings and in his subsequent submission to the Judiciary Committee – to clarify his answers and categorically oppose the unacceptable interrogation techniques employed by this Administration. His failure to do so leaves me no choice but to oppose his nomination.
We need to restore the nation’s confidence in the Department of Justice. The Department must once again defend our Constitution and the rule of law without regard to ideology and partisanship. And we need to protect the country from terrorism while also respecting Americans’ civil liberties.
If you’re a supporter of Senator Clinton who knows how she operates, you’re not surprised she's justifying her opposition to Mukasey by saying,
“we cannot send a signal that the next Attorney General in any way condones torture or believes that the President is unconstrained by law,”even though Clinton knows Mukasey has consistently and empathically said he doesn’t condone torture and believes the President is constrained by the law.
You’re also not surprised Clinton a second time in her brief statement explains her decision to oppose Mukasey by claiming falsely his nomination would "send a signal that the next Attorney General . . . condones torture [and] believes that the President is unconstrained by law.”
Clinton supporters expect her to echo the statements of most Senate Democrats about “torture” and a vote for Mukasey sending “a terrible message to the rest of the world.”
I hope, Clinton supporters, you agree with what I’ve just said about you. I'm only trying to be factual.
Hillary’s statement is best understood in terms of now and then.
Now, Clinton’s statement is meant to appeal to “the Democratic base,” people with Bush=Hitler bumper stickers, and folks who worry that American success in Iraq could hurt the Dems' chances next November.
It’s part of her “kiss and make up” with Dems angry with her because she voted for the war with Iraq, something they call "Bush's war in Iraq" so nobody will ask them why they're not doing all they can to assure the success of American troops there.
And what about “then?”
Then is Fall ’08 when Clinton hopes she’ll be persuading voters to trust her to protect them and our allies from terrorists.
That's why her statement now never mentions the word "waterboarding."
In Fall '08 she wants to be able to say she won’t rule out the use of waterboarding in certain cases, and that she doesn’t think it’s use constitutes torture.
I’m not expecting Clinton to say during a presidential debate:
”As President I would never authorize the use of waterboarding no matter the threat to Americans or our allies because I don’t condone the use of torture or believe the President is unconstrained by law.Are there any Clinton supporters who believe she’ll say something like that next Fall?
That’s why last year I voted along with Senator Ted Kennedy and many of my fellow Democarts against Judge Mukasey’s nomination for Attorney General.”
What abut the rest of you?