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Five takeaways from January's Democratic debate in Iowa

Mark Z. Barabak, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

3. IRAQ, AGAIN

Talk about endless wars.

The U.S. conflict with Iraq began in March 2003 and ended, at least officially, in December 2011.

But the political skirmishing over the invasion started long before and continues to this day; indeed, the war -- or, more specifically, support for the war -- has been an issue in every Democratic presidential campaign that has taken place since, save for 2012 when President Barack Obama was unopposed for the party nomination.

This time, it is Sanders and Buttigieg who have seized on Biden's October 2002 vote authorizing the use of force -- predicated on the erroneous belief that Baghdad possessed weapons of mass destruction -- to question his judgment. The "worst foreign policy blunder" of modern times, Sanders called it.

"It was a mistake," Biden said, as he has before, then noted that once he became vice president under Obama -- who opposed the invasion -- "he turned to me and asked me to end that war."

 

In the last several days the conflict gained new salience with the U.S. killing of a top Iranian general, followed by retaliatory missile strikes on U.S. forces in Iraq. What remains to be seen is whether the finger-pointing and blame-laying, so far removed from a 17-year-old congressional vote, still matters to any but the most ardently anti-war Democrat.

4. KLOBMENTUM?

If flattering reviews and positive prognostications translated into actual support, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar might be running away with the nomination.

She has repeatedly drawn favorable post-debate reviews and assertions from the supposed cognoscenti that this could be her breakout performance. So far, however, the meteoric moment has failed to materialize.

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