In television appearances to promote her new book, Bay Buchanan claimed that Hillary Clinton said in a magazine article that she "didn't know" her vote in favor of the 2002 resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq "was a vote for war." In fact, Clinton is not quoted as saying -- as Buchanan claimed -- that "I didn't know it was a vote for war," or "I didn't vote for war," and the article's context makes it clear that Clinton knew what the bill authorized.
In television appearances to promote her new book, The Extreme Makeover of Hillary (Rodham) Clinton (Regnery, May 2007), Bay Buchanan, a Republican strategist and senior adviser to Republican presidential hopeful Rep. Tom Tancredo (CO), falsely claimed, referring to a November 2006 Atlantic Monthly article by senior editor Joshua Green on Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), that Clinton said she "didn't know" her vote in favor of the 2002 resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq "was a vote for war."
On the May 21 edition of C-SPAN's Washington Journal, Buchanan said: "For two and a half years, she was an outspoken supporter of this war. And then to be able to say to a reporter, Joshua Green, when asked about the vote, she said, 'I didn't know it was a vote for war.' I mean, she literally said this." On the May 17 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, Buchanan said that Clinton "voted for that war for one reason, and it's real clear now: political expediency. And she defended that war for two and a half years. Then she comes out and says, 'I was misled. He lied to me, the president lied to me.' And she tells one reporter, 'I didn't even know it was war. I didn't vote for war.' That's after two years of defending the war."
Buchanan's assertions are false for at least two reasons. First, as Media Matters for America has previously noted, the 2002 resolution that Clinton voted for was not "a vote for war," as Buchanan claims; it gave the president the authority to go to war.
Second, Clinton is not quoted in the Atlantic article "literally" saying -- as Buchanan claimed -- that "I didn't know it was a vote for war," or "I didn't vote for war." In the article, Green paraphrased, but did not provide verbatim, his question to Clinton: "Most people correctly foresaw the vote as authorization for Bush to invade Iraq. Did she really mean to suggest she had not been among them?" He then reported Clinton's purported response: " 'Well, I think that's right,' she said, affecting total ignorance." The passage is ambiguous; the reader does not know the exact question Clinton was answering or what she was referring to as "right." The rest of the passage from Green's article, however, makes clear that Clinton was not disputing the language or meaning of the bill; what she says she did not know was that President Bush would actually invade Iraq, rather than use the authority as leverage in the United Nations. From the article:
I asked whether Bush's decision to go to war was really something she didn't expect at the time. "Well, I've said that he 'misused' the authority granted to him," she replied. "When I spoke at the time of the vote I made it very clear that this was not a vote for preemptive war; this was a vote, I thought, that would enable diplomacy to succeed because we would have a unified front between the president and our Congress to go to the Security Council to try to get the inspectors back in. Obviously we now know, in retrospect, that the president and vice president and his team probably didn't intend for the inspectors to do their work."
Most people correctly foresaw the vote as authorization for Bush to invade Iraq. Did she really mean to suggest she had not been among them? "Well, I think that's right," she said, affecting total ignorance, and then launched into a point-by-point defense of the position. "That's what Bush said in his speech in Cincinnati on October 7th. They called me to the White House on October 8th and gave me another briefing. When I got back to my office, Condi Rice called me and asked if I had any questions. I said, 'Look, I have one question: If the president has this authority, will he go to the United Nations and use it to get inspectors to go back into Iraq and figure out what this guy has?' [Rice replied,] 'Yes, that's what it's for.' Privately and publicly, that was the argument they were making."
Later in the article, Green quoted Clinton describing the difference between her position on the resolution and that of Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-CT): "It is indisputable that we both voted to give Bush authority. But what we thought we were voting for, and what Bush eventually did, and then how we have responded since, I think, is really distinctive between us."
Clinton's comments at and since the time of her vote indicate she knew what she was authorizing, but she has said she wrongly believed President Bush's intentions. Indeed, In an October 10, 2002, floor speech before her vote, Clinton acknowledged that approval of the resolution could "lead to war," but also said that she expected the White House to push for "complete, unlimited inspections" and that she did not view her support for the measure as "a vote for any new doctrine of pre-emption or for unilateralism." Clinton also stated her view that the resolution's passage would make "war less likely":
Even though the resolution before the Senate is not as strong as I would like in requiring the diplomatic route first and placing highest priority on a simple, clear requirement for unlimited inspections, I take the President at his word that he will try hard to pass a United Nations resolution and seek to avoid war, if possible. Because bipartisan support for this resolution makes success in the United Nations more likely and war less likely, and because a good faith effort by the United States, even if it fails, will bring more allies and legitimacy to our cause, I have concluded, after careful and serious consideration, that a vote for the resolution best serves the security of our Nation.
Additionally, on Washington Journal, Buchanan falsely claimed that Clinton voted against cloture on Sen. Russ Feingold's (D-WI) amendment to discontinue the use of funds after March 31, 2008, for "the deployment in Iraq of members of the United States Armed Forces." In fact, Clinton was one of 29 senators who voted in favor of the motion to invoke cloture on the Feingold amendment and thus end debate and bring the measure up for a vote.
From the May 21 edition of C-SPAN's Washington Journal:
BUCHANAN: Secondly, as you look at her voting record with respect to the war in Iraq, this is -- she's all over the lot. She claims, you know, initially she voted for it. She took two and a half years. She praised it. She supported it. She told the American people that we have to be patient, that this is in our national security interest. And then when it became unpopular, she starts to backtrack. Initially, she says, well, it was the smart thing to do, it was the right thing to do, but the president, he implemented it wrong, he fouled the whole thing up. And then after that, she said, "Well, I would never have voted for it. I didn't know it was for war. He misled me, lied to us." And that's just completely inaccurate because, indeed, she supported it for two years. As the war took place, she was still supporting it. She obviously knew it was war, and the country knew it was about the war, and the resolution, of course, being to place armed services in Iraq. Anyone who voted for that must assume that that may be the direction we go in. So this is a woman who will not stand up. She takes no responsibility for her actions. This is a repeated pattern through her life.
BUCHANAN: The other day, in the morning she decided to vote against cloture for the Iraq war funding. And by noon, she couldn't tell the press whether she was going to vote for it if it went to the floor or not. And she had to wait several hours. She had to get back to her experts, her consultants, her pollsters, to tell her what do we do next, what do we do next. This is not a woman that can deduce these things. She has to be told them.
BUCHANAN: These are all things she supported, and then for -- as I said, for two and a half years, she was an outspoken supporter of this war. And then to be able to say to a reporter, Joshua Green, when asked about the vote, she said, "I didn't know it was a vote for war." I mean, she literally said this. I did not believe -- and he said, "You mean you didn't think this was a war vote? You didn't think you'd go to war?" She said, "No I did not believe he was going to go to war if I voted for this."
From the May 17 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight:
DOBBS: Well, Bay Buchanan is here now. She has a brand new book out. It's entitled The Extreme Makeover of Hillary (Rodham) Clinton, suggesting a little partisanship in its approach. How are you, Bay?
BUCHANAN: Hi, how are you doing?
DOBBS: Congratulations on the new book.
BUCHANAN: Thank you very much. It's not partisan. It's completely objective review of who Hillary is and where she wants to take this country.
DOBBS: And objectively, you say that Hillary Clinton is without question a big anti-war liberal.
BUCHANAN: Well, she's -- you know, on the -- on the war issue, I made it really clear. She voted for that war for one reason, and it's real clear now: political expediency. And she defended that war for two and a half years. Then she comes out and says, "I was misled. He lied to me, the president lied to me." And she tells one reporter, "I didn't even know it was war. I didn't vote for war." That's after two years of defending the war. I don't mind if you're for the war or against the war; there's arguments on both sides. But let's have some courage and be a stand-up person when you vote to send people, young people over to die and possibly put their life on the line there.