Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) was an early and enthusiastic supporter of President Bush’s Iraq war. Clinton’s curiously flat, midwestern voice could be heard on the floor of the U.S. senate proclaiming, “Saddam Hussein is a tyrant” and, “So it is with conviction that I support this resolution as being in the best interests of our nation.” In other words, Hillary was roarin’ to flex some muscle and go to war.
But Clinton’s pro-war posturing put her squarely at odds not only with the base of the Democratic party but with a majority of New Yorkers who intuitively mistrusted President Bush and suspected his motives had more to do with oil and less to do with national security. What was Hillary Clinton thinking?
Now, four years and 3,513 American deaths later, we may finally have the answer.
According to report in The Hill, Sen. Hillary Clinton has secured more earmarks in the fiscal 2008 defense authorization bill than any other Democrat except for panel Chairman Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI.)
In fact, the bill contains about $5.4 billion in earmarks, or projects, not requested by the Pentagon. With their slim majority, the Democrats on the panel claimed two-thirds of that sum. Clinton is among their more junior members.
By contrast, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), also a Democratic presidential candidate and Clinton’s rival for the nomination, has only one request in the defense bill.
Clinton’s share of the pork contained in 26 earmarks is worth about $148.4 million, most of which were also sought by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY.) Clinton and Schumer agreed several years ago to go after projects together, according to several sources.
According to the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense, Clinton has secured 360 earmarks worth a combined $2.2 billion from 2002 to 2006 in all spending and authorization bills.
Said Steve Ellis of Taxpayers for Common Sense:
“She has learned how to play the game and to use her power on the committee to bring home dollars for her constituents. She knows how to toot her own horn with the constituents, and that will likely play into her national campaigns.”
Sen. Hillary Clinton’s beneficiaries include some of the largest military defense companies in the world. They include giant Northrop Grumman, which secured $6 million for the AN/SPQ-9B radar; New York-based Telephonics, which won $5 million for a standardized aircraft wireless intercom system for the National Guard Black Hawk helicopter fleet; Plug Power Inc., another New York state company, which got $3 million for fuel cell power technology; and Alliant Tech Systems (ATK), which won $3.5 million for the X-51 B robust scramjet research.
The Senate considers earmarks distinct from the equipment and projects that appear on the military services’ so-called unfunded requirements list, so such funding is not disclosed as an earmark. A good example is the additional $4.1 billion for the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle approved by the committee. The committee also included $575 million in the earmark requests for MRAPs for the Army, Air Force and Special Operations Command as part of the Iraq supplemental funding for 2008.
All earmarks approved in the defense appropriations bills are assured funding.
So it should come as no surprise to antiwar Democrats frustrated by Sen. Hillary Clinton’s refusal to issue an apology for her 2002 vote authorizing President Bush to go to war with Iraq. An apology from Hillary isn’t an admission of error in judgment but a repudiation of the very people who have helped her become the Democratic presidential front runner. Clinton’s not about to bite the hand that feeds her.