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Last Thursday was the first “official” debate among the eight Democrats vying for the Presidency in ’08 (if you missed it, you can catch most of the 90 minute broadcast here on the MSNBC website). Everyone appears to be in agreement that no one particular candidate stood out from the rest or broke out of the pack. Many praised the top two front-runners, Hillary and Obama, for “looking & sounding presidential”, but as far as praise goes, that’s about it.

I didn’t see it that way.

In what was probably the only contentious moment in what might otherwise be described as a “Love Fest” between candidates heaping praise on each other, bottom-tier candidate Dennis Kucinich took umbrage to Senator Obama’s vow that “all options would be on the table” when it comes to dealing with Iran (watch the exchange here). As former Senator Mike Gravel (pronounced “gra-VELL”) had pointed out earlier in the debate: “that’s code for “using nukes”. Kucinich apparently agreed. They continued to discuss Iran as a potential nuclear threat. Senator Obama then said something that left me cold:

“They are in the process of developing… and I don’t think that is disputed by any expert.”

Actually, that “fact” is indeed very much in dispute. I even discussed growing evidence of more “cooked intelligence” in this earlier column. And hearing Senator Obama state it in such a “matter of fact” way was too reminiscent of the entire Bush White House (most notably Dick Cheney) in the lead up to the war with Iraq. There was “no doubt” they told us that Saddam had stockpiles of chemical & biological weapons; There was “no doubt” that he was “reconstituting his nuclear weapons program”; and there was “full agreement” in the international community on these “facts”.

I’m sorry, but if the Bush Administration has taught us ANYTHING, it is to DOUBT anything they tell us about foreign threats. Making such a sweeping and absolute assertion after witnessing the lead up to the invasion of Iraq tells me that this is either a man that has learned nothing in four years, or is saying what he thinks others want to hear in order to maintain his popularity. Either way, that’s not a candidate I can support. It’s a shame too, because his pre-war opposition to the invasion of Iraq was a key selling point for me. I too opposed the invasion of Iraq before it happened. I felt it was totally unnecessary (Saddam was contained and under a microscope), and I argued that sending in “1 million international inspectors and keeping them there for 20 years” was preferable to “war“… especially in light of the fact we hadn’t gotten OBL yet. But the good Senator ruined even that for me when he explained that he opposed invading Iraq only because he was afraid of “what was to follow”, not over genuine concern regarding the need to go to war in the first place.

I’m not a Hillary fan either. She’s too much of “a politician” for me… the carefully measured words and just the slightest sense of “entitlement” that I’m not sure is deserved.

But with that being said, it doesn’t matter WHO the Democratic nominee will be, they’ve still got my vote.

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