NY Post's "[un]reasonable extension": Sen. Clinton gives "aid and comfort to anti-warriors"

››› ››› BRIAN LEVY

In an August 28 editorial, the New York Post asserted that Ned Lamont won Connecticut's Democratic Senate primary "based on a single issue -- full-throated opposition to the war in Iraq (and, by reasonable extension, the War on Terror itself)." However, the Post's "reasonable extension" contradicts Lamont's own statements in support of the "war on terror" -- from which he has declared the Iraq war to be a "distraction" -- as well as national polling that indicates most Americans do not believe that the war in Iraq is part of the "war on terror." The Post also asserted that because Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) met with Lamont, she is "giving aid and comfort to the anti-warriors," an apparent reference to the constitutional definition of treason.

Lamont on the "war on terror"

Lamont has repeatedly explained his view that the Iraq war is separate from the "war on terror" and that the Bush administration has not successfully prosecuted the "war on terror":

  • In an August 23 press release, Lamont said: "To really keep American safe, the President needs to regain our focus on the real war -- the war on terror -- rebuild our military, catch Osama Bin Laden and truly demonstrate that we learned the lessons of 9-11 by implementing the recommendations of the bipartisan 9-11 Commission to keep us safe."
  • On the August 13 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked Lamont if his primary victory showed "that at least some Americans are weakening in their will to fight the war on terror." Lamont replied: "What this election showed is that a lot of people in Connecticut think that the invasion of Iraq has nothing to do with our war on terror. It's been a terrible distraction. Here you are talking about the failed terrorist plot today. It originated in Pakistan, goes through London, and here we have 132,000 of our bravest troops stuck in the middle of a civil war in Iraq."
  • On the August 13 edition of CBS' Face the Nation, Lamont said: "I don't think our invasion of Iraq has done anything when it comes to the real war on terror. I mean, here we are talking about Saddam Hussein, but look what happened. It was a terrorist cell coming out of Pakistan, going through London, threatening the United States of America five years later. You know, if nothing else, I think our country's gotten a little bit complacent when it comes to the war on terror right now. Maybe this is a wake-up call."

Polling on Iraq and the "war on terror"

Last week, two polls that asked whether the Iraq war was a part of the "war on terrorism" were released. In both, a majority of respondents said they believed the two conflicts are separate:

  • In a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted August 17-21, 51 percent of respondents said that they think of the Iraq war as "as separate from the war on terrorism." Thirty-two percent of respondents said the Iraq war constitutes a "major part" of the "war on terrorism," and 12 percent said the Iraq war is a "minor part of the war on terrorism."
  • In a CNN poll conducted August 18-20, 52 percent of respondents agreed that "[t]he war in Iraq is a distraction from the U.S. efforts against terrorists who want to attack targets within the U.S.," while 44 percent of respondents said that "[t]he war in Iraq is an essential part of the U.S. efforts against terrorists who want to attack targets within the U.S."

From the August 28 New York Post editorial titled "Clarity from Sen. Clinton":

On Friday, Clinton hosted Connecticut Democratic Senate nominee Ned Lamont in her Chappaqua home. Also on hand was the senator's senior aide -- and state Democratic Party spokesman -- Howard Wolfson.

After the meeting, the left-wing Daily Kos site -- one of Lamont's biggest online boosters -- promptly announced that a Clinton campaign source promised that Sen. Clinton would do a fund-raiser for the Lamont campaign.

Plus, Wolfson has been tasked to serve in an "advisory role" for the Lamont campaign.

Sen. Clinton is, of course, entitled to do as she wishes in support of Democratic candidates.

Lamont is the official nominee of Connecticut Democrats after his defeat of incumbent Sen. Joe Lieberman -- who campaigns on as an independent.

But no one should mistake what's going on here as anything other than opportunistic politicking of the crassest kind.

Lamont won his nomination based on a single issue -- full-throated opposition to the war in Iraq (and, by reasonable extension, the War on Terror itself) -- and fueled by activist Web sites.

In contrast -- until now -- Clinton walked a very fine line on the central policy issue of the moment: She voted for the war and -- despite some rhetorical wriggling here and there -- has generally stood by her vote.

Until now.

For there can be no denying what she did in overtly embracing the Lamont campaign.

The nation is at war. And Hillary Clinton is giving aid and comfort to the anti-warriors.

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