On Sunday, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were on CNN’s State of the Union with Jake Tapper and an indirect debate erupted between them over Iraq. First up was Trump, denying that he was in favor of the invasion of Iraq:
TAPPER: But what does that have to do with temperament? You’re very successful, there’s no question.
TRUMP: Oh, it has a lot to do — you can’t — oh, you can’t have that success without good temperament.
And I will say this. I was thinking about the word temperament, and we need a strong temperament in this country. We have been led by weak people, weak, ineffective people.
Countries have taken advantage of us, whether it’s militarily or otherwise. We have been taken advantage of by everybody. We have people with weak temperaments. I have a very strong temperament, but I have a temperament that’s totally under control.
And, you know — she mentions that I will bring us into war. She’s the one that wanted to go into Iraq. She raised her hand. She didn’t know what the hell she was doing. She raised her hand.
I said, I don’t want to go into Iraq. Iraq is going to destabilize the Middle East, and I was 100 percent right.
TAPPER: Can I just say one point on that? I have looked so long and hard for any evidence of you…
TRUMP: I will give it to you. 2004, they had newspaper articles.
TAPPER: But — but — right, but the war started in 2003.
TRUMP: It did.
And — but you know what? You look at — I did an interview with Howard. And that interview was the first time I was ever asked the question. Don’t forget, I was an entrepreneur. I’m a real estate person, asked me the question.
TAPPER: But didn’t you — didn’t you say to Howard that you thought it was a good idea?
TRUMP: No, I — this was before the war started, long before the war started.
TAPPER: Right. TRUMP: And it was a very like, well, I don’t know. First, nobody
ever asked me the question.
You know, when you’re doing what I did, nobody was talking about a lot of the questions that you ask me today. And I was — I sort of said, like, well, I don’t know, maybe — I don’t know.
By the time that started, I was totally against it. And from 2004 on, there’s a lot of proof of that, because, as you know, there was articles in magazines.
TRUMP: There was a lot of articles.
TAPPER: Yes, a year after the war started.
TRUMP: No, no, but I was against it from before it started.
TAPPER: All right. But…
TRUMP: And if you go back and look at that interview — and I will get it for you, if you want — but that interview was substantially before the war started.
It was the first time I was ever asked the question. And even that, it wasn’t like, oh, yes, we should go in. It was a very, yes, maybe, you know?
TAPPER: The only thing I would say, and then we don’t have to belabor this point, is, if there is evidence of you being against the war strongly before the war actually started, I would love to see that.
Good on Tapper for making Trump wriggle around like a worm on a hot griddle. But Tapper is right, as we have documented here on RedState (here | here), Trump followed liberal Democrats in lockstep in first supporting the Iraq War and then, when it became politically advantageous, opposed the war. From at least 1999 through 2002, Trump made numerous pronouncements in favor of going to war with Iraq, and he even makes the case for war in one of his books. The only reasonable explanation you can give for Trump’s statements is either senile dementia or a pathological narcissism that allows him to convince himself that he has always been right. Call it Trumpal Infallibility.
Next up was Hillary Clinton. Tapper had her defend her position on Iraq.
TAPPER: So, you had some very strong comments about Donald Trump yesterday.
I asked him about specifically the one where you said that you couldn’t trust him with the nuclear codes. It’s not tough to imagine him bringing the country into war because somebody got under his very thin skin.
That’s pretty close to a quote. And his response was, hey, she’s the one that voted to go to war in Iraq.
How do you respond to that?
CLINTON: Well, I think the speech was really an attempt to present to the American people everything that he has said, what he has proposed that he would do which violates Republican and Democratic agreement about how to be strong in the world, how to present ourselves, how to protect our allies and our friends, how to take on our rivals where necessary.
And I’m happy to put my record up against his comments, his rants and his outright lies any time.
TAPPER: But his specific criticism was, why would you accuse me of going to war, when you actually brought us into a war that he criticizes as an unnecessary one?
CLINTON: Well, he supported it. We have evidence and audio of him supporting it. So, I think that’s another example of him trying to rewrite history.
But I said, look, it was a mistake to vote for that. But I have a lot more experience as a senator, as secretary of state, that I am more than happy to talk about throughout this campaign, because, when people vote, they are voting for the president, who is our commander in chief.
And I have said — and I believe this with all my heart — he is not qualified to be commander in chief, either by experience, preparation or temperament.
Unfortunately, Tapper lets her slide on this. She can’t just say “it was a mistake” — which, is the same excuse she uses for her private email server serving up to US secrets of foreign intelligence services — and move on. If she truly believes that to be the case then she needs to let us know much more about how she, the smartest woman in the world, made such an egregious lapse of judgment, what she learned from it, and how she will prevent that from happening again.
Trump’s vacillation on Iraq is not the same as Clinton’s. Trump was a private citizen expressing an opinion shaped by his wealthy, liberal Democrat friends. Like Hillary Clinton, for instance. Hillary Clinton was a US Senator who actually cast a vote for war and then tried to make it as difficult as possible to win that war. While Trump’s change of heart can be written off to the disenchantment much of America felt, Clinton’s actions speak directly to her competence, her judgment, and her fitness to be president.
The more damning indictment of Clinton on Iraq are her actions as Secretary of State. While in that position she utterly failed to maintain US influence, she undermined the existing security situation, and she destabilized Iraq to the advantage of Iran and is, along with Barack Hussein Obama, directly responsible for the creation of ISIS. Her actions in Syria weakened the Assad regime and allowed the spread of ISIS there.
The sad truth is that neither of these cretins are fit to be president or much of anything else. We are faced with an impossibly bad set of options in November. It is almost as if the nation has decided to play Russian roulette with an automatic shotgun.