Sunday, February 04, 2007

John Edwards on the Iraq War, Nuclear Waste and Gay Marriage

John Edwards was on Tim Russert today, talking about a number of issues. Three in particular stood out to me.

The Iraq War

Russert asked Edwards why he still supported the war a year and a half into it, during the 2004 Presidential campaign. Edwards responded:
SEN. EDWARDS: Mm-hmm. Perfect—that’s a very fair question. I can tell you what happened with me, personally. We got through—I was—at that point, I was in the middle of a very intense campaign, one that I thought was very important for America. When the campaign was over and the election was over, we had a lot going on in my own family. Elizabeth had been diagnosed with breast cancer, we were taking care of her. And for the first time I had time to really think about, number one, what I was going to spend my time doing, and, number two, my vote for this war. And over time, when I reflected on what I thought was going to be necessary going forward, to have some moral foundation to work on issues like poverty and genocide, things that I care deeply about, I could no longer defend this vote. It was pretty simple. And I got to the place I felt like I had to say it and had to say it publicly. And so—what?--a year—a year or so ago I did that.

So basically, he was busy campaigning and didn't really have time to think about it. After the campaign, he gave it some thought and changed his mind.

That sounds a bit inauthentic to me. Seems to me the answer is he thought it was too risky politically to change his view at the time of the campaign, but later, as support for the war declined and he wanted to run in 2008, decided it was too risky not to.

Nuclear Waste

MR. RUSSERT: But now you’re saying that maybe the nuclear waste should be stored locally where the waste was produced. Is that your position?

SEN. EDWARDS: My position is that, that what’s happened with Yucca Mountain is there’ve been serious questions, including the, the possibility of lying and fraud in the scientific evidence of—that Yucca Mountain would work. I was always concerned, still am, about this nuclear waste being transported around the country. I, I think, at this point in time, it does not make sense to do—to do Yucca Mountain. So the, the, the answer is we have nuclear plants, the, the stuff has to be stored—waste has to be stored somewhere, so it has to be stored where the plants are.
MR. RUSSERT: So in...
SEN. EDWARDS: Or in the vicinity.
MR. RUSSERT: So in Seabrook, New Hampshire, the nuclear waste has to be stored in New Hampshire.
SEN. EDWARDS: It has to be stored somewhere close by.

I'm no scientist, but that strikes me as ridiculous. Nuclear waste should be stored as far away from people as possible, not in the "vicinity." Perhaps under a mountain somewhere? Hmm ...

Gay Marriage

MR. RUSSERT: It’s next up after Nevada. Gay marriage. You said this: “ It is [a hard issue] ... because I’m 53 years old. I grew up in a small town in the rural south. I was raised in the Southern Baptist church and so I have a belief system that arises from that. It’s part of who I am. I can’t make it disappear. ... I personally feel great conflict about that. I don’t know the answer. I wish I did. I think from my perspective it’s very easy for me to say, gay civil unions, yes, partnership benefits, yes, but it is something that I struggle with. Do I believe they should have the right to marry? I’m just not there yet.” Why not?

SEN. EDWARDS: I think it’s from my own personal culture and faith belief. And I think, if you had gone on in that same quote, that I, I have—I, I struggle myself with imposing my faiths—my faith belief. I grew up in the Southern Baptist church, I was baptized in the Southern Baptist church, my dad was a deacon. In fact, I was there just a couple weeks ago to see my father get an award. It’s, it’s just part of who I am. And the question is whether I, as president of the United States, should impose on the United States of America my views on gay marriage because I know where it comes from. I’m aware of why I believe what I believe. And I think there is consensus around this idea of no discrimination, partnership benefits, civil unions. I think that, that certainly a president who’s willing to lead could lead the country in the right direction on that.
Man, what a wuss. Will any of the leading Democrats have the guts to be for gay marriage? His answer seems like such a transparent attempt not to seem too extreme and to maintain his viability with moderates. But I suppose he figures that's the only way to win.

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