Peace Activist Hayden: Iraq Flip-flop Puts Obama at Risk

More anti-war figures are voicing their opinions about contradictory and confusing statements regarding Iraq made Thursday by presumptive Democrat presidential nominee Barack Obama, and the news is clearly not good for his campaign.

One such concerned party is Tom Hayden, the famed ex-husband of Jane Fonda who, along with Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, was part of the Chicago Seven that incited riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

Forty years later, Hayden wrote a strong rebuke of Obama's suddenly fluctuating position on the Iraq war that should garner a lot of media attention given its publication at the left-leaning Huffington Post; the title alone should give folks a sense of the tightrope the junior senator from Illinois is walking concerning this issue -- "No Retreat: If you Want to Win, Stop the War! Barack at Risk" (emphasis added throughout):

Call him slippery or nuanced, Barack Obama's core position on Iraq has always been more ambiguous than audacious. Now it is catching up with him as his latest remarks are questioned by the Republicans, the mainstream media, and the antiwar movement. He could put his candidacy at risk if his audacity continues to shrivel. [...]

The most shocking aspect of Samantha Powers' forced resignation earlier this year was not that she called Hillary Clinton a "monster" off-camera, but that she flatly stated that Obama would review his whole position on Iraq once becoming president. Again, no one in the media or rival campaigns questioned whether this assertion by Powers was true. Since Obama credited Powers with helping for months in writing his book, The Audacity of Hope, her comments on his inner thinking should have been pounced upon by the pundits.

Well, Tom, as media have been sheltering him from any examination up to this point, why should anyone have cared about what Powers said, or, for that matter, what Obama said? Until now, his positions on issues have been totally irrelevant.

Hopefully, that's beginning to change:

Finally, it has taken the pressure of the general election to raise questions about whether his parsed and lawyerly language is empty of credible meaning. [...]

Obama's position, which always left a trail of unasked questions, now plants a seed of doubt, justifiably, among the peace bloc of American voters who harbor a legacy of betrayals beginning with Lyndon Johnson's 1064 pledge of "no wider war" through Richard Nixon's "secret plan for peace" to Ronald Reagan's Iran-Contra scandal and the deep complicity of Democrats in the evolution of the Iraq War.

It is difficult to understand Obama's motivation. Perhaps it is his lifetime success at straddling positions and disarming potential opponents. Perhaps it is a lawyer's training. Perhaps being surrounded by national security advisers who oppose what they call "precipitous withdrawal", and pragmatic Democrats distinctly uncomfortable with their antiwar roots.

What is clear is that Obama is responsive to pressures from the grass-roots base of a party that is overwhelmingly in favor of a shorter timetable for withdrawal than his, and favoring diplomatic rather than military solutions in Afghanistan and Pakistan. At a time that public interest in the war is receeding [...] before economic concerns, it is time for the strongest possible reassertion of voter demands for peace. [...]

The peace movement assumption should be that there is no one in Obama's inner circle of advisers to be counted on, no mainstream columnist to catch his eye with a persuasive column favoring withdrawal. They never have. Only the voice of the peace voters - and the countless activists who have volunteered on his behalf - can command his attention now.

Are you beginning to realize just how serious this issue is becoming? Just imagine if Hollywoodans like Sean Penn, Susan Saradon, Tim Robbins, and Hayden's ex-wife Jane Fonda start voicing such views about the junior senator from Illinois.

In the end, the only question remaining is whether anti-war media members will keep the pressure on Obama concerning this issue, or let their own pragmatism rule the day.

Stay tuned.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.