McNerney as an Anti-War Candidate
Jerry McNerney just posted his second blog entry in three days about the debacle in Iraq. (The first one can be found here). I’m not sure that I am completely happy with the way that he frames the debate, but I like the fact that he’s taking on this tough and important issue. Furthermore, as we have mentioned before, this issue provides the clearest contrast in terms of substantive policy differences between Filson and McNerney. I am therefore eager to see how this debate plays out.
In his entry posted today, McNerney writes:
My critics have labled [sic] me as an anti-war candidate. My response is this: If being anti-war means being against wars of choice, then I'm anti-war. If being anti-war means that we need to have a plan instead of an open-ended committment [sic] to supply troops, then I'm anti-war. If being anti-war means providing our troops with the equipment they need and taking care of our veterans, then I'm anti-war. If being anti-war means honoring our obligation to not send our young men and women into harm's way without a damn good reason, then I'm anti-war - and proud of it!
It is hard for me not to read this as a direct response to Steve Filson’s comment, “If we go into San Joaquin County waving the anti-war flag, we’ll lose.” In light of this comment by Filson, the entry by McNerney has the effect of tamping down the rhetoric somewhat.
McNerney’s opposition to the war, such as it is, stems from a recognition of the duties and obligations that we owe the men and women who serve in the Armed Forces. Agree or disagree with McNerney’s conclusions, it’s still difficult to deny the obligations he mentions. And so McNerney at least has the defensive posture of arguing from reasonable and widely-recognized moral principles.
This contrasts with Filson’s comment, “I’m not anti-war, I’m anti-failure” which provides a weaker and less thorough-going critique of invasion of Iraq. After all, Filson’s critique is based more on pragmatism than principle. It seems to imply that Filson would have approved of an invasion of Iraq undertaken with superior managerial skill.
Of course, some of Filson’s comments about the viability of an anti-war candidate in San Joaquin County were as much directed towards Margee Ensign as towards Jerry McNerney. It may be that she will come out even further to the left of McNerney, in which case some of Filson’s concerns may be validated. I don’t know enough about Ensign to speculate too much on this point, but it is something to keep in the back of your mind when you’re evaluating her candidacy.