Frank Rich: Stop Obama before he's 'too' experienced
New York Times columnist Frank Rich has dismissed criticism of freshman US Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) for not having enough "experience" by noting that before the invasion, the 2008 presidential candidate "had the judgment about Iraq that his rivals lacked."
Rich argues that "at least one rap against him can promptly be laid to rest: his lack of experience."
"If time in the U.S. Senate is what counts for presidential seasoning, maybe his two years' worth is already too much," Rich writes. "Better he get out now, before there's another embarrassing nonvote on a nonbinding measure about what will soon be a four-year-old war."
Excerpts from Rich's column:
The day after the resolution debacle, I spoke with Obama about the war and about his candidacy. Since we talked by phone, I can't swear he was clean, but he was definitely articulate. He doesn't yet sound as completely scripted as his opponents -- though some talking-point-itis is creeping in -- and he isn't remotely defensive as he shrugs off the race contretemps du jour prompted by his White House run. Not that he's all sweetness and light. "If the criterion is how long you've been in Washington, then we should just go ahead and assign Joe Biden or Chris Dodd the nomination," he said. "What people are looking for is judgment."
What Obama did not have to say is that he had the judgment about Iraq that his rivals lacked. As an Illinois state senator with no access to intelligence reports, he recognized in October 2002 that administration claims of Saddam's "imminent and direct threat to the United States" were hype and foresaw that an American occupation of Iraq would be of "undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences." Nor can he be pilloried as soft on terrorism by the Cheney-Lieberman axis of neo-McCarthyism. "I don't oppose all wars," he said in the same Chicago speech. "What I am opposed to is a dumb war."
Washington's conventional wisdom has it that the worse things go in the war, the more voters will want to stick with the tried and true: Clinton, McCain, Giuliani. But as Obama reminds us, "Nobody had better Washington resumes than Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld." In the wake of the catastrophe they and their enablers in both parties have made, the inexperienced should have a crack at inheriting the earth, especially if they're clean.
TIMES SELECT SUBSCRIBERS CAN ACCESS RICH'S COLUMN AT THIS LINK AFTER IT'S PUBLISHED ONLINE SOMETIME SATURDAY NIGHT