On Sunday afternoon, at the famed Riverside Church in Harlem, I attended a large ceremony honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. I enjoyed several moving speeches detailing the need to continue Dr. King's struggle against racism and poverty. In particular, I enjoyed a speech aggressively advocating the necessity of providing accessible health care to all.
The keynote speaker was Senator (and Presidential hopeful) John Edwards of North Carolina. He spoke fluidly and powerfully on a number of topics before speaking out passionately against the continuing occupation of Iraq. At this point, the 1,700-strong crowd gave him a thunderous, 30-second standing ovation.
Just as the people began sitting down and the applause dwindled to a trickle (but just before he continued speaking), I thundered, "Then why did you vote to go to war in Iraq?!" He turned toward me and replied, "I have apologized countless times for that." Again, huge applause from the faithful, even though he did NOT answer my question.
As the event ended and hordes of people milled about the famous speakers (including New York Senator Charles Schumer and Martin Luther King III), I strolled up to Senator Edwards, shook his hand, and said, "Your vote for war helped get 3,000 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed. It's easy to apologize now but, again, why did you vote for this war?!" He looked extremely displeased (many TV cameras were rolling), and said to me, "Now is not the time." I countered, "Why not? This event is over now and I'm considering voting for you if you can explain your initial support for this war." He turned his back to me and walked away.
There you have it, folks, just another lousy snake-oil salesman and slimy politician. A U.S. citizen asks him a very pointed question on an extremely important topic and he chooses to simply walk away? I thought he wanted to work for ME!
Ladies and gentleman, if a politician voted for this war (when there was NO clear evidence of WMD's or links to terrorists), then he/she is an accessory to murder. Nothing more nothing less. If they wish to apologize, fine, but they should be compelled to explain their reasons for sending our young men and women into this unprovoked war in the first place. It's called accountability.
Among the leading Presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, John McCain, and Rudy Giuliani all supported this war. Why? In my opinion, it is because at the time it seemed to be the wise course of action politically. Not because they believed Iraq was a danger to us. There was never any clear evidence of that. They simply thought the U.S. would prevail and chose to vote with what was popular, not with what was right. And thousands died for no reason...
We must insist on better leaders!
Hugs all around,