Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards marked the fifth anniversary of the Congressional vote to give President Bush the authorization to use force in Iraq by laying into Democratic frontrunner Sen. Hillary Clinton.

“Five years ago tonight, Congress voted to authorize the president to use force against Iraq.  Unlike Senator Clinton, I have apologized for my vote in support of that bill. This war has become one of the greatest disasters of American foreign policy. In light of the terrible mistruths that permitted this president to guide our nation to war, voters have a right to honest answers and straight talk from those running for president. That is why I have made it clear that I oppose the Iraq war, why I have offered a specific plan on how I will end this war as president, and why I have made my position very clear on Iran,” Edwards said.

He then said that Clinton has no plan to end the war in Iraq. “Unfortunately, political rhetoric aside, Senator Clinton has no specific plan to end the war in Iraq.  Instead, she refuses to commit to a specific timeline for withdrawal and has made it clear that she will continue `combat missions’ in Iraq. The Washington Post reports today that Senator Clinton has described multiple missions that would require us to keep combat troops in Iraq–from protecting the Kurds to countering the Iranians to training Iraqi troops to protecting oil to a vague need to `protect our interests.’  These missions would just be excuses to justify continuing George Bush’s failed strategy in Iraq.”

He also painted a picture of Clinton giving Bush the first step towards war with Iran. “Now, we are again facing another challenge: whether to let the president go to war with yet another country, Iran. Evidently, Senator Clinton and I learned two very different lessons from the Iraq war.  I learned that if you give President Bush even an inch of authority, he will use it to sanction a war. As the New Yorker recently reported, the administration is actively preparing plans to attack Iran.”

Edwards continued, “Despite this clear evidence, Congress recently passed a bill to declare Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, a bill Senator Clinton supported and that takes this nation one step closer to war. While Senator Clinton tries to argue both sides of the issue, the truth is her vote opens the door for the president to attack Iran. I believe we must not allow the president to use force against Iran when so many other diplomatic and economic options are still available.”

Edwards’s Iran comments echo similar ones made today by Barack Obama. “Now, the Senate has once again voted for an amendment that goes out of its way to draw connections between distinct threats, and that replaces judicious policy-making with unnecessary saber-rattling. And once again, we hear that it is not really a vote for more war, it is a vote for more diplomacy,” Obama said.

It seems that both Edwards and Obama are trying to correctly paint Clinton as a triangulating candidate that will vote for any bill or talk out of both sides of her mouth if that is what it takes to get elected. The reality though is that unless many Democratic voters see through her smokescreen of nostalgia, none of these attacks by Edwards are going to harm the Clinton campaign. Many Democratic voters are seeing what they want to see in Clinton, instead of the manipulating politician that she really is.

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Jason Easley is the politics editor at His column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Jason is also the host of TPU Radio, which can be heard at every Sunday morning at 11 AM ET.

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