A dozen years later, American politics has reached a rough consensus about the Iraq War: It was a mistake.

Politicians hoping to be president rarely run ahead of public opinion. So it’s a revealing moment when the major contenders for president in both parties find it best to say that 4,491 Americans and countless Iraqis lost their lives in a war that shouldn’t have been waged.

Many people have been saying that for years, of course. Polls show most of the public have judged the war a failure by now. Over time, more and more GOP politicians have allowed that the absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq undermined Republican President George W. Bush’s rationale for the 2003 invasion.

It hasn’t been an easy evolution for those such as Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton, who voted for the war in 2002 while serving in Congress. That vote, and her refusal to fully disavow it, cost her during her 2008 primary loss to Barack Obama, who wasn’t in the Senate in 2002 but had opposed the war.

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