Former U.S. ambassador and diplomat Joseph Wilson came straight from the airport Tuesday to answer questions during his presidential campaign visit to Milwaukee on behalf of Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.). About 40 people made the trek through the snow to Marquette's Eisenberg Hall to hear Wilson.
Wilson spoke about the Iraq War, problems with the Bush administration and the presidential race in what Mike Gousha described as a "hastily scheduled" part of the ongoing series, "On the Issues with Mike Gousha."
Gousha, distinguished fellow in law and public policy at the law school, directed the conversation by asking Wilson questions.
Wilson said one of the main points he wanted the audience to take from the discussion was that it is a mistake to see the Democratic Party as being co-responsible for the Iraq War. He said Republicans should be appalled at what the Bush administration did in the name of the Republican Party because its actions do not stand for good Republican views.
"As citizens we need to understand why we go to war," Wilson said. He said the administration used lies about weapons of mass destruction to gain support for going to war.
Wilson became known a few months after the 2003 invasion of Iraq for publishing an opposing editorial in the New York Times concluding that the Bush administration exaggerated the Iraqi threat so the country could go to war.
Wilson served under George H.W. Bush during the Gulf War and was the last American diplomat to confront Saddam Hussein. After standing toe-to-toe with Hussein, Wilson said he yields to nobody when it comes to standing up for his country.
He said the essence of democracy is the citizens' responsibility to hold the government accountable for its actions. In a democracy, he said the government should fear its citizens, not the other way around.
He became good friends with H.W. Bush, but Wilson said it is now hard for him to talk to H.W. Bush because his "fight with his son has become so personal."
"George W. Bush is a punk, nothing more and nothing less," Wilson said.
During this time of election and political debate, Wilson said there will be a lot of simple solutions presented for the complicated problems that the Bush administration will leave behind. Wilson, an adviser to Clinton, commented on other candidates.
"I have no doubt that any Democratic candidate is going to be better than (Sen.) John McCain (R-Ariz.)," Wilson said.
Wilson said Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is extraordinarily gifted and has enormous potential, but does not have enough experience.
"When you make statements as a candidate or world leader, words matter," Wilson said. "I don't want to see Barack Obama set up for failure."
He said Obama does not have a clue as to how "nasty" the campaign is going to get.
Wilson said female leaders can be effective and strong. He said Clinton understands that the government needs to be protective but honest to the people, and that she has been at the pinnacle of the political process for about 16 years.
Wilson left audience members with the advice to participate and vote no matter who they choose to vote for.
"This is your democracy, it's your country," Wilson said.
Benjamin Cohen, a first-year law student, said he attended the discussion because it was a good opportunity to hear someone important speak, especially during election year. He said he found it interesting because Wilson was one of the first people to truly stand up against the Bush administration.
Gousha said he was pleased with the event's turnout with such short notice and poor weather.
"Marquette Law School is a place where we want people to come to discuss and learn about oday's issues," Gousha said. He said in the near future, there will be a more cross-section of people with all different political views speaking at the law school.
© 2008 The Marquette Tribune via U-WIRE