Chicago Tribune: Obama: Iraq veto Bush's latest foolhardy step
By Henry C. Jackson
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said President Bush has made massive policy blunders, but impeaching him or calling him a war criminal is a waste of time.
"I have been one of the fiercest critics of the Bush administration policies in Iraq ... but we have to reserve terms like war criminal to behavior that goes beyond initiating a foolhardy war," Obama told Iowa veterans during a conference call Tuesday evening.
The Illinois senator's comments came hours after Bush's veto of an Iraq war spending package that would have provided funding for troops in Iraq but also would have set a timetable for withdrawal. Obama said Bush's veto is the latest error in a string of major policy mistakes.
"It's a frustrating step on his part," Obama said. "Because by failing to sign this bill that would actually increase funding for troops on the ground, not only do I feel like he ignored the will of the American people, but I still feel like he's not understanding the realities on the ground."
Obama, who was in Washington on Tuesday, took questions from a handful of Iowa veterans for about 20 minutes during the conference call. He told the group that veterans issues were near to his heart, and he pledged to make veterans an important component of his campaign in Iowa and nationally.
One of the callers pressed Obama - as Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, did in last week's Democratic debate in South Carolina - on what he meant when he said that as president he would consider all military options in dealing with Iran.
Obama stressed that he was hardly calling for military action, unless Iran attacked the United States.
"When I say all options are on the table I mean that as a commander in chief you never predetermine what options are out there because you're working hypotheticals," he said. "... I have said publicly and repeatedly that at this point it would be a mistake to initiate any military strike against Iran."
Obama said Democrats need to continue pressing Bush to withdraw troops from Iraq, but he said that effort would fail without more support from independents and Republicans.
"We're 16 Republican votes short from really being in a position to bring this war to a close," Obama said, referring to the number of votes needed to override Bush's veto.