How this whole business devolves into who's pro-Obama and who's anti-Obama.
I think the facts here are pretty clear:
1. Obama made some statements about the build-up to the Iraq war that are, if not COMPLETE bullshit, very heavily tainted with bullshit.
2. Obama HAD to make SOME kind of statement about the build-up to the Iraq war, because he was directly called out on the US's apparent hypocrisy. Yes, it was Bush the Lesser who got us into that particular mess, and yes, Obama rightly opposed it from the start. But as President, it's his JOB to respond to that kind of question in the way he finds to be most appropriate--not in terms of his own stance, but in terms of the US as a political actor in the world, past and present.
3. Obama was in the position of having to make said statement because he was taking a stand on Russia-Ukraine and Crimea. He was doing his JOB, and for my money, on the right side of this issue, but got backed into a rather obvious corner, and used bullshit to get out of it in the hope that it wouldn't distract from the larger point he was trying to make.
The upshot is that he was trying to do the right thing, but this was not his finest moment. Now, if he's neither the Messiah nor the Antichrist--and I like to believe that no one on here believes he's either--then he's human, and not every moment is GOING to be his finest. That's just the way it is.
My visceral response to the President's statement was very much like Will's. But I have to admit that I don't know that I would have handled it any better in a similar situation--especially since he didn't prosecute the previous administration as the war criminals they are. The statement was based on the reality of where we are today, like it or not, and given that reality, it's hard for me, at least, to even conceive of a "right answer" to the question posed.
So how about if we just cut the pro/anti shit on this "issue"? Clearly, some of us are pissed, while others think it was just hunky dory. But what we're NOT talking about here is any major policy change, or even any news about how Obama has handled or will handle the Iraq situation. All that we're talking about here is words--words which, while perhaps ill-advised, were intended to advance a positive goal.
To the "anti" crowd: Be pissed, but get over it. There's nothing new to see here, the President just picked at a scab, and it kind of hurts. Save your real ire for the next time he actually DOES something awful.
To the "pro" crowd: Quit wasting your energy trying to rationalize this statement. There's plenty to be offended by, no matter how you parse it, and I'm sure you can see that. (We didn't seize Iraq's resources? Puh-leez.) Stick to the fact that he was right on the substance of the entire statement, regardless of this piece of it, and don't pretend that those offended by the Iraq bit are tea-baggers in disguise. They're not.
Seriously, the idea this is a litmus test for who's the "better" Democrat is absurd.
Hey all, just got polled--as a scout leader--about how I feel about the BSA's anti-gay policies. Here's my response to the best free-form question on the whole thing. Hope it gives you a laugh!
Q: What is your greatest concern if the policy remains in place and openly gay youth and adults are prohibited from joining Scouting? (Please be specific.)
A: I find the current BSA policy to be morally reprehensible. I am viscerally sickened by the notion that homosexuality and moral uprightness are incompatible--the notion currently promulgated by BSA. The BSA's open embrace of naked bigotry is at best embarrassing, and in the minds of good people, it raises doubts about the ability of scout leaders to provide moral leadership.
The idea that the Scout Oath prescribes heterosexuality is, to any person with a modicum of intelligence, a spurious rationalization to justify instilling in young people shameful beliefs that should have been discarded decades ago. As a scout leader, I believe it is my moral duty to actively fight, undermine, and sabotage the BSA's anti-gay policies whenever and wherever I can, not only to live according to my own moral code, but also in order to promote the long-term health of BSA.
If the policy stays in place, therefore, my main concern is that BSA membership will atrophy and that the organization will eventually fall into irrelevance. Already, the vast majority of young adults starting new families hold opinions similar to mine; if the BSA alienates them in order to appease obstinate but aging religious bigots, where will our new members come from?