New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote a provocative piece on Sunday arguing that the foreign policy lines of the presidential race could turn into a 2008 redux, with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump duking it out over the Iraq War.
Clinton is still the hawk, but in Dowd's imagination, this time Trump is the dove. "The prime example of commander-in-chief judgment Trump offers is the fact that, like Obama, he thought the invasion of Iraq was a stupid idea," Dowd writes.
There's just one problem: Trump didn't always think the Iraq War was a stupid idea.
Stern: Are you for invading Iraq?
Trump: Yeah, I guess so. I wish the first time it was done correctly.
Not only did Trump say he was for invading Iraq, but he seemed to suggest that the US should have invaded even earlier — back in the early 1990s, during the Gulf War.
It would be one thing if this was just one line in Dowd's piece, an unfortunate mistake. But this is, as Dowd puts it, her "prime example" of Trump's foreign policy credibility.
Dowd even uses it to imagine a Clinton-Trump foreign policy debate matchup: "You can actually envision a foreign policy debate between Trump and Clinton that sounds oddly like the one Obama and Clinton had in 2008, with Trump playing Obama, preening about his good judgment on Iraq, wanting an end to nation-building and thinking he could have a reset with Russia."
But unlike Trump, President Obama was always against the war. In 2002, Obama said that he opposed the invasion, saying he would have voted no for the war powers resolution. (This is the vote in which Clinton voted yes, effectively giving President George W. Bush the okay to proceed with the invasion of Iraq, which is a prominent reason liberals view Clinton as a hawk today.)
But based on Trump's own comments, it's not clear at all that he would have voted any differently than Clinton. Both Trump and Clinton may regret their support in retrospect, but that's a very big difference from opposing the war from the start.