NPR Debate

The NPR Democratic debate, which is still droning on in my earphones, has been light on big news. John Edwards, for example, just announced that “my kids will not have toys from China” this Christmas. Sounds like socks for Emma Claire and Jack.

“My kids’ toys will be coming from Iowa,” proclaimed Sen. Chris Dodd, who moved his entire family here to have a front-row seat for his sixth-place finish. Priceless.

But one thing is clear from the debate — Monday’s blockbuster National Intelligence Estimate downgrading Iran’s nuclear weapons threat is bad news for Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Clinton’s rivals have been raking her for weeks over her vote to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization. They say the resolution, championed by the Bush administration, is eerily similar to the Oct. 2002 vote authorizing force in Iraq. We all know how most Democratic caucusgoers feel about that one.

Now, after 16 spy agencies poured cold water on Iran’s mushroom cloud, Clinton’s vote looks even more questionable. She tried today to argue that her rivals Barack Obama and Edwards have also called Iran a dire threat, but tough talk is a whole lot different than carrying legislative water for a president throwing around terms like “World War III.”

 She also insisted the resolution would not authorize force. But that’s what she said, in retrospect, about the Iraq resolution. 

 She also argued that the vote led Iran to change it’s ways, but the more likely reason is surging U.S. success in Iraq.

This is trouble for a candidate struggling to get her groove back.  Her only and best defense is that the Revolutionary Guard is a terrorist group that backs thugs across the Middle East. But did Congress really need to pass a resolution – and perhaps encourage a president eager to again use military force – to tell us that? That’s the question Democrats may be asking themselves.

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