In the July 15 New York Times Sunday Book Review, Jennifer Senior, a contributing editor at New York magazine, wrote that in their book Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton (Little, Brown & Co., June 2007), authors Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta Jr. were "right to expose the spectacular disingenuousness" of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) "claim that she thought she was authorizing additional diplomacy, not a war" when she voted for the 2002 resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq. But Gerth and Van Natta's characterization of Clinton's explanation for her vote is based on a falsehood, as Media Matters for America has noted. And Senior introduces a falsehood of her own: Contrary to her claim that Clinton has said that she did not think that she was "authorizing ... a war," as Media Matters has previously documented, Clinton's comments at and since the time of her vote indicate that she was well aware that Congress' passage of the resolution could lead to war. But Clinton also made clear at the time of the vote -- contrary to Senior's suggestion that Clinton is now mischaracterizing her vote -- that she expected the president to use the authority given by Congress as leverage to force complete and thorough inspections in Iraq.
In her 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.
Gerth and Van Natta themselves misrepresented subsequent statements Clinton made regarding the resolution, falsely claiming that in a June 2006 floor statement Clinton offered a "new interpretation" of her actions -- that President Bush had misused his authority by acting "without allowing the inspectors to finish the job in order to rush to war." As Media Matters has noted repeatedly, Clinton's "interpretation" was not "new" at all, and her June 2006 floor statement was hardly the first time she had asserted publicly that Bush had "misused" his authority by going to war before the inspections could be carried out.
From the Times' July 15 Sunday Book Review:
They are right to assail Hillary for repeating the idea that there was a link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda; they are even more right to expose the spectacular disingenuousness of her claim that she thought she was authorizing additional diplomacy, not a war; and they give Hillary's late-breaking attempt to board the climate-change bandwagon the hard, skeptical eye it deserves.