Clinton on Obama and "Preconditions"

03 February 2008

Hillary Clinton let this mendacity fly on ABC's This Week:

CLINTON: Senator Obama consistently misstates what I had said and really tries to gloss over his answer to a question in an early debate.

The question was very specific -- would you, without precondition, meet with five of the worst dictators, including Ahmadinejad from Iran and others, without precondition, personally, as president? He said yes, I said no.

That has nothing to do with whether or not we would have diplomatic efforts with all of the countries. I've been a longtime advocate of having diplomatic processes with Iran and Syria.

QUESTION: So you're open to direct contact with all those countries.

CLINTON: I think it's imperative...with Iran and Syria, most certainly. I have said that. But it would be at low level diplomatic efforts between our ambassadors and between our diplomats, because I don't think a president should put the prestige of the United States on the line to meet with these people unless you have some idea of what is going to happen...

I really hope that Senator Obama will quit deliberately misstating what I said in order to avoid scrutiny for what he says.

This is like the pot calling the snowman black.

First of all, the CNN debate question she's referring to is this:
In the spirit of that type of bold leadership, would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?
The question was whether the candidates would take such a decision completely off the table. Obama said no, and Clinton said yes.

Of course, they both support "low level" diplomatic efforts, but that's exactly the same process we have now. The question was whether they would require that our preconditions be met prior to "high level" leader-to-leader communications. Clinton, arguing that it compromises the "prestige" of the United States to do so, says that she would not. Kennedy and Reagan thought otherwise.

Furthermore, Clinton herself went on to misrepresent Obama's position in that same interview, confusing "groundwork" prior to meetings with "preconditions." There is really a very big difference between the two.

Tellingly, Clinton provided no quotes of Obama ever misrepresenting what she said.

Finally, what really makes this line of argument ridiculous is that Clinton has consistently misrepresented Obama's positions and statements throughout the primary process. She has distorted his ethics reform bill, his position on the PATRIOT Act, his Rezko ties, his "present" votes, his position on abortion, and his position on the Iraq war. Basically, everything.

Let's try not to reward this kind of behavior on Tuesday.

UPDATE: Hillary Clinton's website once again repeats the charge without providing any substance, without refuting any of Obama's claims, and without providing a single quote in which Obama misrepresented Clinton's position. This is really shameful, and I hate to see this come out so close to the Super Tuesday primaries. If Clinton wins the Democratic nomination, I might start shopping around for third party nominees.

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