Monday, October 22, 2007

4 Questions For Hillary

The Hillary Clinton campaign arranged for local media to spend more than 30 minutes in a question-and-answer session with the Democratic presidential candidate at Sam’s Sodas & Sandwiches in downtown Carroll on Saturday.

The media session took places after Clinton spoke to an estimated crowd of more than 600 people at Northwest Park.

Clinton, a U.S. senator from New York and the former First Lady, fielded four questions fromIowa Independent contributing fellow and Daily Times Herald writer Douglas Burns. Here is the transcript of those exchanges:

Iowa Independent: Senator, Fortune magazine has an interesting story out about how women are finally starting to mentor other women. Having read your book “Living History” you had a very good mentor in Marian Wright Edelman.
Your numbers are really good with certain demographics of women. Your biggest applause line today was with women, when you talked about 90-year-old women coming up to you.

But I have to say over the last eight or nine years some of the most vicious comments I have ever heard in covering politics have come from other women about you. Why don’t women do a better job of mentoring and supporting other women and why do some women have this almost irrational hatred of you?

Clinton: I’m not completely sure. I know that when I started running in New York there were a lot of stories like that, that women wouldn’t support me and that certain kinds of women, professional women, would not support me.

But what I found is that over the course of the campaign that began to recede, and that’s what I’m finding over the course of this campaign.

I don’t know all the reasons for it. I mean some have to do with what people have heard about me or what they think about me and their own lives and their own political leanings. But I don’t really think about that a lot.

I think my job is to get out every day, meet as many people as I can, say what I would do as president, and I really believe that I will pick up more and more support, and that seems to be what’s happening around the country.

Iowa Independent: Senator, a couple of days ago I covered your colleague Sen. Joe Biden who was in a smaller community outside of here (Lohrville). (Former) Sen. (John) Edwards has obviously been campaigning around here, too. And both of those gentlemen have raised concerns that they have with your vote in identifying some of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as terrorists.

Biden spent a good deal of time on it and suggested that you hadn’t learned your lesson from the first vote on Iraq, and that you were complicit in setting the stage to give President Bush carte blanche to start another war.

It’s something we printed. Out of fairness to you do you want to comment on that and defend yourself?

Clinton: I have the highest regard for him (Biden). He’s a good friend and colleague but I think that’s a misunderstanding of what we voted on.

We had 76 votes including people like (Sen.) Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and (Sen.) Carl Levin (D-Mich.) who did not vote in 2002 to give the president authority but who believe that this is a necessary action to force the Bush administration to actually engage in diplomacy.

There is nothing in that resolution that in any way provides authority, and I think if you read it, that’s clear.

Obviously, people don’t trust the Bush administration. I don’t trust the Bush Administration. But the idea behind it was to state the obvious, that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard supports terrorism like Hezbollah. They have supplied weapons and advisers to people fighting and killing Americans in Iraq, and we have very few diplomatic options available to us other than sanctions, which we’ve got to figure out how to get more countries to agree with us on.

It’s ironic because many of the people who are criticizing this vote have previously signed on to either identical legislation that calls them a terrorist organization or said something along the same line.

I think what we need to do is take a deep breath and say, look, if your goal is to get the administration to engage in diplomacy with Iran, which is my goal, then it makes sense to give them some leverage.

Giving them the leverage of being able to label the Iranian Revolutionary Guard I think makes sense in a diplomatic context.

If I were in the White House right now, I would be having negotiations with Iran. I wouldn’t ask them to give up their nuclear ambitions before they came to the negotiating table because that’s what the Bush administration has done. That means there will never be any negotiations.

There is in the resolution, which you remember is a non-binding resolution passed by one house, there is language from (Defense) Secretary (Robert) Gates saying that this will help us move to diplomacy.

I understand why people don’t trust George Bush, but distrust him but don’t confuse what we voted on with the premise of distrusting George Bush and Dick Cheney.
I sent out a mailing to a lot people with a letter explaining what I voted for with a long quote from Dick Durbin who basically said, “Would I have ever voted to give George Bush any kind of leeway for going to war? Of course not, that’s not what this is about.”

So I just think we ought to just stick to the facts. I can understand some of the rhetorical attacks and the deep-seated distrust we have of Bush, but let’s not confuse one with the other.

Iowa Independent: If you look at the numbers on the people who are serving in Iraq, rural America as you know is serving a disproportionate share of the burden there.

We’re all one or two degrees of separation away from a number of people who are friends or family serving there.

The numbers of people from rural counties are staggering.

Do you have any thoughts on Iraq in many ways being rural America’s foreign war? Are we just more patriotic out here in rural America or do we have less opportunities that are forcing our young people to seek those options instead of college?

I don’t know all the answers. I think some of what you said probably has some truth to it.

When you see Norman Rockwell up on the wall there (pointing to a picture on Sam’s wall) when we think about small-town America we think of really deeply rooted patriotism, a desire to serve, helping out your neighbor, answering the call and so I’m sure that is a very strong feeling in a lot of young people growing up, that they want to be part of that, that they want to make a contribution.
There’s a great history of patriotism and service in rural Iowa. People know about fathers, grandfathers, great-grandfathers. I think there’s a sense of tradition as well.

I don’t know all the reasons but now that we have an all-volunteer military people make those decisions for all kinds of personal objectives. Some do it to get education money. Some do it to see the world. The thing I worry about is with an all-volunteer military the whole country is not involved. This war has now gone on a very long time. It’s the longest war we’ve ever fought with an all-volunteer military, so I think it’s important that the rest of the country do its part, and we haven’t been asked to make any sacrifice.

As you say, you know people who know people who know people. Many of my friends have sons and daughters serving. I’ve had two members of my staff leave to go and enlist, so I see it all the time, and I do a lot of work with veterans, with active duty Guard and Reserve, and I just regret that the president didn’t seize the opportunity after 9/11 to summon the country to service. Then I don’t think it would be quite so out of balance as to where people are coming from, where the sacrifice is really rooted as it appears to now.

Iowa Independent: On Sept. 12, 2001, I think most Americans assumed that by Oct. 20, 2007, there would have been another major terrorist attack on our soil. We were just expecting that it was imminent. It hasn’t happened.

In your estimation why hasn’t that happened? Has the Bush administration maybe done some things that are good to prevent it or was the threat exaggerated from the beginning?

Clinton: Well, as a senator from New York I don’t think the threat was exaggerated. The terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in 1993. They attacked our embassies. They attacked the USS Cole. They have since 9/11 attacked in Spain, Morocco, Great Britain Indonesia, India.

They’ve attacked many other places. They’ve attacked American targets, and I think there are lots of reasons at work here.

If you read what bin Laden has said, which I have, unfortunately, been required to do, he may have gotten what he wanted by pulling us into the war in Iraq. He wanted to sort of suck America into a war in the Muslim world.
So they may have figured that they’ve made some progress, that they’ve used that as a recruiting tool, a training ground. There certainly is evidence that they have been vigorously recruiting and training that we know from Great Britain, Germany, other places.

They’re also very patient. Just because we haven’t been attacked doesn’t mean that they’re not engaged in doing whatever they can to bring that about.

After they attacked the World Trade Center in 1993, a lot of people, including Rudy Giuliani who put his police headquarters back in that area, would have thought, “Well, OK fine.” They were determined to go back to the same place because they feel that sends a signal.

We have done some things better than we were doing. I’ve been deeply involved in trying to make sure that New York City got what it needed to protect itself.
But I don’t think we’ve done enough and I think that there has been an increase in the potential recruits to this cause of extremism, jihadism against the West that is a result of how we handled our response.

Terrorism has been around a long, long time. It goes back thousands of years. Europe was subjected to it during the ’70s and ’80s. You had the IRA in Northern Ireland and in the course of the 30 years of troubles there approximately the same number of people died as in one day with us on 9/11.

We just have to remain vigilant, and we have to be aware that in the globalized, interconnected world it is very easy and a lot of the devices that are used to kill our young men and women in Iraq are easily transportable. There is nothing fancy about them. We’ve got to figure out how to be smarter.

This Q&A is crossposted at Iowa

No comments: