Friday, February 9, 2007

The Weeble Wobble

As a child in the late ’70’s I was given a fantastic toy that provided me with hours of innocent enjoyment: weeble wobbles. The weebles even had a catchy little jingle. Surely you remember: “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down”. As I read the comments of Senator John Edwards (D-NC) this week I couldn’t help but recall those wonderful weeble wobbles. Edwards is one of the leading candidates, along with Senators Clinton and Obama, to be the Democrats’ presidential nominee for ‘08. But as I read Edwards’ comments as quoted in the American Conservative and on the transcript from the 2/4 Meet the Press, I just kept thinking of those little weebles: “Edwards woobles but he won’t come down”. On a decision, that is; he wobbles back and forth without ever coming down, or at least staying down, on one course of action.

The Weeble: In their most recent edition American Conservative quotes Sen. Edwards as he addressed the Herzliya Conference in Israel:

The greatest challenge of our generation [is disarming Iran].

According to Wesley Pruden of the Washington Times Sen. Edwards said the following at the same conference:

Let me be clear…Under no circumstances can Iran be allowed to have nuclear weapons. … Once Iran goes nuclear, other countries in the Middle East will go nuclear, making Israel’s neighborhood much more volatile.

Sounds like a strong position to take. I agree with Sen. Edwards…I think, but I can’t be sure because on Feb. 4, just a little more than two weeks after the Herzliya Conference, Sen. Edwards sounds a little wobbly when asked by Tim Russert: “Would President Edwards allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon?”

The Wobble: Here is Sen. Edwards’ reply:

I—there’s no answer to that question at this moment. I think that it’s a—it’s a—it’s a very bad thing for Iran to get a nuclear weapon.

When Russert said, “But they may get one.” Sen. Edwards wobbled some more:

Yeah. I think—I think the—we don’t know, and you have to make a judgment as you go along, and that’s what I would do as president.

“Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.”

I actually believe that Tim Russert did a magnificent job exposing the Edwards weeble wobble. Whether Russert intended to or not, I don’t know, but let me give you one more example from Edwards’ 2/4 appearance on Meet the Press.

Russert showed a videotape from October 7, 2002. Read what Edwards said on that date. I call it the Weeble:

My position is very clear. The time has come for decisive action to eliminate the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction. I’m a co-sponsor of the bipartisan resolution that is presently under consideration in the Senate. Saddam Hussein’s regime is a grave threat to America and our allies. We know that he has chemical and biological weapons today, that he’s used them in the past, and that he’s doing everything he can to build more. Every day he gets closer to his long-term goal of nuclear capability.

Edwards no longer believes that he was correct in referring to Saddam’s regime as a “grave threat to America and our Allies.” Here comes the Wobble:

For the same reason a lot of people were wrong. You know, we—the intelligence information that we got was wrong. I mean, tragically wrong. On top of that I’d—beyond that, I went back to former Clinton administration officials who gave me sort of independent information about what they believed about what was happening with Saddam’s weapon—weapons programs. They were also wrong. And, based on that, I made the wrong judgment. I, I, I want to go another step, though, because I think this is more than just weapons of mass destruction. I mean, I—at the—I remember vividly what I was thinking about at the time. It was, first, I was convinced he had weapons of mass destruction. That’s turned out to be completely wrong and false. I had internal conflict because I was worried about what George Bush would do.

He says that he was wrong, but he was wrong because he received bad information from everybody. As Han Solo said in that classic tale The Empire Strikes Back: “It’s not my fault.” Edwards had bad intel. His information from the previous administration was no good, and, of course, President Bush can’t be trusted.

Are you ready for more?

The Weeble:

Democracy will not spring up by itself overnight in a multiethnic, complicated society that’s suffered under one repressive regime after another for generations. The Iraqi people deserve and need our help to rebuild their lives and to create a prosperous, thriving, open society. All Iraqis, including Sunnis, Shia and Kurds, deserve to be represented. This is not just a moral imperative. It’s a security imperative. It is in America’s national interest to help build an Iraq at peace with itself and its neighbors, because a democratic, tolerant and accountable Iraq will be a peaceful regional partner, and such an Iraq could serve as a model for the entire Arab world.

That quote is also from October 7, 2002, and if you didn’t know better you might believe that George Bush said those words. Russert asked Sen. Edwards, “Do you think that was naive?” His answer provides us with the Wobble:

No, I think that had, had Saddam, who’s—had the war in Iraq been executed the way that it should have been executed, I think there would be a much greater likelihood of there being a democratic Iraq. I think we would still see at least some symptoms of what we’re seeing raging on the ground in Iraq right now. But no, I think there was some potential for a democracy in Iraq.

I thought the war did not need to be “executed” at all, but now if it had just been done right there would “be a much greater likelihood…of a democratic Iraq.

Sen. Edwards weebles and he wobbles but he does not come down on any position. He blows with the political wind. He was in favor of armed action in 2002 because of the mid-term elections. He has begun denouncing that action in the last year because the Democratic nominee cannot be in favor of the war.

“Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.”

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