Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Shades of Orwell

Andrew Gumbel caught Hillary doing some Orwell-speak yesterday.

Hillary Clinton may fancy she opposes the war in Iraq, but she has a funny way of showing it. On Monday night in Austin, she had this to say about what the United States military has done over the past five years:

"We have given them the gift of freedom, the greatest gift you can give someone. Now it is really up to them to determine whether they will take that gift."

There was nothing accidental about this line. She delivered it in response to two Iraq veterans introduced at a town hall meeting at the Austin Convention Center by her friend and campaign surrogate Ted Danson. She liked the line enough that she delivered it again a couple of hours later, at a campaign-closing rally at a basketball arena in south Austin.

"The gift of freedom" is, of course, a curious way to describe an unprovoked invasion and occupation causing hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths and leaving just about every aspect of life chaotic and fraught with daily dangers. To then lay responsibility for the mess on the Iraqis -- we did our bit, now you do yours -- is the worst kind of dishonesty, a complete abdication of moral principles. It's the sort of thing George Bush has said to justify his decision both to launch the invasion in the first place and then stay the course -- a course Hillary Clinton has spent many months telling primary and caucus voters she thinks was misconceived from the start.

Why, then, is she taking on the president's rhetorical tropes? Could it be she didn't -- and doesn't -- oppose the Iraq war quite as much as she's been letting on?


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