A few months ago I was invited by Sen. John Edwards to attend a dinner with several local bloggers. It was a exciting and wonderful evening of good food and excellent conversation. I was nervous and wondered how I ended up there. I suppose its because of my blog post Mr. Edwards, help teach others to blog. Knowing Ruby Sinreich, my wife, hasn’t hurt either.
It has become one of my serious goals to reintroduce the American political Left back to the Democratic Party. I have been inspired by many wonderful local politicians in Orange County, North Carolina. Orange County is the home of Chapel Hill and Carrboro – long standing homes to very Liberal Democrats. They have not forgotten the real citizen activist base of their party. Many of them actively work to create a supportive community for a diverse group of people. Despite the moderate corporate influences of Bill Clinton and other NC Dem conservatives.
I want to recount one part of this evening that has been replaying in my head over and over. At one point during dinner we were asked what we would do about Iraq. The obvious answer was for the US military to leave, but what more?
I offered, “No permanent US military bases in Iraq.”
Before I said this the room was full of conversation. Immediately after my statement the room went completely silent. Not one word. Before that I had spoken with several people, including Sen. and Mrs. Edwards, with lots of back and forth. It was like I hadn’t said anything at all. I promptly forgot and chalked it up to our differences in opinion.
Fast forward to the Edwards appearance on the TV show Hardball with Chris Matthews. It was filmed on the campus of UNC at Memorial Hall. Ruby and I watched it on TV anxious to see what John Edwards would say. Would he announce his candidacy for President on this show here in Chapel Hill?
About halfway through the show Chris Matthews asked Sen. Edwards, “Are you in favor of permanent US military bases in Iraq?”
“Absolutely not.” said Sen. Edwards
I was shocked. Is that really his answer? I had assumed up until that point that Sen. Edwards was in favor of permanent military bases in Iraq. I had based this assumption on the LACK of response from my statement during dinner. Why didn’t Senator or Mrs. Edwards respond? Were they for permanent military bases and unwilling to admit it to us bloggers? Had the Edwards not made up their mind and reserved their pseudo-public opinion until later? Had John Edwards been pressured into stating an opinion against permanent military bases because of the recent mid-term election results? (The mid-term elections had given the Dems control of the House and Senate, sending a strong anti-war message. Many believe the Dems will not win the Presidency without a serious anti-war plank.) Ultimately was this a smart political move or the real opinion of a political leader?
Later I read in an article in The Nation magazine about John Edwards. It said,
[Edwards] wants to begin bringing the troops home quickly and he is steadfastly opposed to the construction of permanent bases.
Again this was a shock. Sen. Edwards voted for the war in Iraq and the money to pay for it while in the US Senate. He has since admitted his mistake. I have amazing respect for a leader who can admit his or her mistakes. I think its one of the most important qualities of a leader. Especially the President of the United States.
My question for Sen. Edwards is, “How did you come to the believe that permanent military bases in Iraq are unnecessary?”