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John's 'fessing up on Iraq

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R>eaders of the Indy, or our nascent blog called "dent" (www.indyweekblogs.com/ dent) or of OrangePolitics.org, the blog we got it from, weren't surprised to see John Edwards' "The Right Way in Iraq" column on Sunday in the Washington Post, also known as his "I was wrong" column. We all had the heads-up about it from Elizabeth Edwards, John's wife, back on Oct. 21.

Edwards is owning up to his vote for the war, which he admits now was "a mistake." His mistake, he writes, was based on information supplied to him by President Bush and the intelligence community that "wasn't the whole story." Edwards adds: "Had I known this at the time, I never would have voted for this war."

In recent weeks, 2004 Democratic presidential contenders John Kerry, Dick Gephardt and now Edwards--each of whom voted in Congress to authorize the war--have said they're sorry about that.

Edwards first uttered the word "mistake," apparently, in an interview with former Indy editor Bob Moser that took place in Chapel Hill in mid-October. Moser's resulting profile of Edwards as anti-poverty populist--and potential '08 presidential choice of progressives not inclined toward Hillary--appears in the Nov. 28 issue of The Nation. Moser's explication:

"I voted for the resolution," [Edwards] says. "It was a mistake." So far, so good. But he goes on, "The hard question is, What do you do now? Looking back, it's easy to say that it was wrong and based on false information. Anybody who doesn't admit that isn't honest, and that's the truth." So what now? "I myself feel conflicted about it," Edwards replies. "But we have to find ways--and I don't mean just yanking all the troops tomorrow--but we have to find ways to start bringing our troops home. Our presence there is clearly contributing to the problem." So does he agree with Senator Russ Feingold that Washington should set a withdrawal deadline? "No. Even if we're going to say that internally, that we're gonna have our troops out by X date, there's no reason to announce that to the world. I think that's probably a mistake." He doesn't agree, either, with Senator Clinton's call for more U.S. troops to finish the job? "No sir!" Edwards says, sitting straight up in his chair. "Did she really say that?"

A few days after the interview, Elizabeth Edwards, blogging to OrangePolitics, passed along a hot tip: "John has said that the war was wrong and that his vote for the war was wrong. His taking responsibility for that vote, his direct statement that he was wrong (instead of watering it down with excuses) makes me very proud of him." We printed that news ("Elizabeth Edwards: Blogger") in the Oct. 26 Indy, and tried thereafter--to no avail--to interview John about it. Now, with The Nation story out and his column in the Post, John's finally gotten everybody caught up to his current view, which is that Iraq "is a mess and a far greater threat than it ever was."

A fact for which he is taking responsibility, Edwards says, and he suggests that others--Bush, Cheney--start doing so, too.

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