Monday, December 03, 2007
'Blue Dog" Congressman: Outspoken Bill Clinton Could Have Changed My Vote On War
A conservative Democratic member of Congress from Arkansas said that had Bill Clinton spoke out forcefully against the Iraq war in 2003, putting a voice to a position the former president claims he held at the time, it could have switched this "Blue Dog's" vote on the House floor.
“It probably would have had an effect on me and the way I voted on the resolution had I known for sure he felt that way, and why he felt that way which is a conversation we could have had but didn’t,” U.S. Rep. Marion Berry, D-Ark., told Iowa Independent and the Carroll Daily Times Herald this morning.
Berry spent Monday in western Iowa campainging for U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y.
With grave reservation and much doubt in his heart, Berry said, he voted in favor of the resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq. Berry is a member of a coalition of conservative congressional Democrats known as the Blue Dogs. Had Bill Clinton expressed opposition and given cover to Berry, the congressman could have made the case to this key swing block of voters in the House.
“I don’t overestimate the impact I have,” he said. “The reason I voted the way I did is because I didn’t think anyone could sit in the Oval Office and not feel the weight of responsibility to this country and to humankind to where they would enter into something like this casually and I was wrong.”
When questioned about the suspect veracity of Bill Clinton's assertion that he was an early opponent of the war, Berry acknowledged that he didn't recall any public statements from the former president before the war.
"I agree wth you there," Berry said. "I don’t remember it either."
But Bill Clinton has said he was against the war from the beginning.
"But he didn’t say he spoke out against it," Berry said.
Isn’t that almost worse, if he’s a former president and he feels that strongly about it and he remains silent?
"Well former presidents have a certain expectation, kind of an unwritten requirement that they don’t speak out against the next president," Berry said. "They just kind of don’t do that."
Berry said it important to consider that Bill Clinton is not running for president.
"The No. 1 point there is he said it,” Berry said. "He didn’t say it for her. He’s not running for president as she said in one of the debates."
A strong supporter of Hillary Clinton, Berry raised an issue one expects to hear from detractors -- that Clinton English often demands laser-like attention.
"You really have to listen to what the Clintons say, especially with him," Berry said. “You’ve got to listen to him very carefully. We all just make a few slips of the tongue from time to time but he doesn’t say things he hasn’t thought out."
Berry has known the Clintons since 1976, and says the nation needs Hillary Clinton's experience now.
“I fear for the future of the Republic and I think there is absolutely no one else in the Democratic or Republican party primaries who even comes close to her range or vision and knowledge and wisdom to face all the problems we have from health-care to our standing in the world community,” Berry said.
Berry takes issue with Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards and others who suggest Hillary Clinton could pose problems for her party in the South.
“She understands the neighborhood I come from, the part of the world I come from,” Berry said.
Berry added: "The people of Arkansas still adore senator Clinton."
A folksy rice farmer who represents northeastern Arkansas, an area that includes most of the Arkansas's Delta lands and stretches west to the Ozarks, talked of leaving behind his water jug, boots and a shovel to drive to Wasington, D.C., where he was a special assistant to the President Clinton in the 1990s.
"The culture shock is just amazing," Berry said. "It is something you have to experiece to appreciate."
Based on his own issue with adapting to Washington, Berry suggests top Clinton rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., doesn’t have the experience to be president.
"Four years in the United States or even a couple of terms doesn't prepare you for anything like what the president of the United States is going to face January 2009."
Berry added, "I don’t question (Obama’s) intelligence. I don’t question any of ‘ems intelligence. I’m not saying they can’t learn it. I’m saying she doesn’t have to learn it. She already knows most of these people she’s going to be dealing with."