Press coverage of yesterday’s Democratic debate in New Hampshire was so heavily focused on the in-fighting between the candidates over who was more fervently opposed to funding the military’s operations in Iraq, that, as best I can tell, not a single major media outlet caught the most important moment of the night.
Edwards, courting his party’s Left, accused Obama and Clinton of failing to offer strong leadership during the Senate floor debate over whether funding for the war in Iraq should be continued. Obama and Clinton, he noted, had voted against the funding, but neither had spoken against it from the Senate floor. Obama responded testily that he, unlike Edwards, had opposed the war from the start. Senator Clinton (with one eye on the general election) replied, “The differences among us are minor. The differences between us and the Republicans are major. And I don’t want anybody in America to be confused.”
But one contender is distinguished by a major difference: Joe Biden, the only presidential hopeful to have voted to continue the funding. Biden declined to criticize his colleagues, but explained that he had voted for the bill because—noting that most American casualties come from IED’s (improvised explosive devices)—“it contained funding for new armored vehicles that will better resist roadside bombs.” Biden went on:
As long as there is a single troop in Iraq that I know if I take action by funding them, I increase the prospect they will live or not be injured. I cannot and will not vote no to fund them.
You can expect Biden’s statement to resurface in the general election, when Republicans will present the “no” votes from either Clinton or Obama as a vote explicitly against protecting American lives.