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Gore and Iraq


Some classic DLC logic in Marshall Wittmann’s post about a potential Gore candidacy:

It is quite likely that a President Gore would have come to blows with Saddam in the aftermath of 9/11. In the past, Gore was a strong supporter of the use of American power whether it was in the first Gulf War or Kosovo. As a Congressman, Senator and Vice President, Gore was always identified with the hawkish wing of the party.

But times have changed as has the former Veep. Gore must now see this vacuum on the left and view it as inviting. Nixon waited eight years for his comeback. After two terms of Bush, might Gore think his time has come?

Admittedly, the claim about what Gore would have done with respect to Iraq is an unknowable counterfactual. But it is exceptionally implausible, and certainly cannot be inferred from the fact that he had favored strong military interventions in the past. I have no doubt that Gore would have favored strong military action against Al Qaeda, but of course this is irrelevant to the question of whether he would have “tangled with Saddam.” And then, of course, there’s the imputation of his motives; according to Wittmann, he must have opposed the Iraq War out of opportunism, even though he wasn’t actually running for anything in 2004. Maybe it would help if I put it in boldface:

The Iraq war was not, in any way, logically connected to 9/11, and the arguments that it was in the national interest of the United States are highly contestable. It is entirely possible to have opposed the Iraq War without being a pacifist, unless the term “hawk” is tautologically defined as “anyone who reflexively supports the foreign policy of the Bush administration.”

On the other topic of the post, like Yglesias and Atrios, I’m quite intrigued by the possibility of a Gore candidacy in ’08; I would, given what I know now, certainly vote for him over Clark or Clinton or (of course) Biden. Julie dissents.
(I actually agree with Julie that the substantive merits of Gore’s foreign policy will be irrelevant to public or media reception, but I think that this applies to all the candidates.)

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