Note to media: Byrd-Clinton bill not her first proposal to de-authorize war


On May 6, Fox News Sunday panelists repeated an emerging myth that legislation Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) announced she is introducing with Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) "to sunset the authorization for the war in Iraq" in October 2007 represents -- in the words of host Chris Wallace -- a "big change" for Clinton "who has previously rejected timetables for withdrawal and now supports this idea of rescinding the original authorization to use force." None of the panelists -- National Public Radio (NPR) correspondent Mara Liasson, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, Fox News Washington managing editor Brit Hume, or NPR senior national correspondent Juan Williams -- corrected Wallace. In fact, as Media Matters for America has noted here and here, Clinton's support for revoking the war authorization and for timetables is not new. Clinton's own Iraq Troop Protection and Reduction Act of 2007, which she introduced in the Senate on February 16, includes a provision that would "require a new authorization for use of United States military forces in Iraq unless both the President and the Government of Iraq meet certain conditions within 90 days, including the phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq."

As Media Matters noted, The Washington Post published a headline on May 4 -- "Clinton Changes Tone on Iraq; Senator Favors Ending War Authority" -- despite the article's own reporting that Clinton "has expressed support for a similar de-authorization, although not as a stand-alone bill." Similarly, CNN's Bill Schneider falsely suggested that Clinton's announcement that she would join Byrd in introducing the sunset bill represented the first time she has indicated support for ending the authorization of the war.

From the May 6 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:

WALLACE: That was Senator Hillary Clinton this week announcing her new plan to try to end the president's power to wage war in Iraq. And we're back now with Brit, Mara, Bill, and Juan. Well, it's not a new idea, but it is a big change for Hillary Clinton, who has previously rejected timetables for withdrawal and now supports this idea of rescinding the original authorization to use force. Mara, will this get her past her troubles with the left wing for refusing to apologize for that 2002 vote?

LIASSON: It might help her. I think the big question for Senator Clinton is that she has been doing a very careful balancing act in the primary thinking about the general election, leaving herself some kind of running room to move to the center. I question more about what it will do to that effort. I think this probably will help her with whatever problems she has on the left. She said after that speech, she said it would mean that the troops would be out as of October. She said they have no authority to continue, that's the point. That's a pretty short-term, definite end point, which is I thought what she'd always shied away from in the past, saying she just wanted a goal, she wanted a very phased withdrawal, she wanted to leave troops there to fight Al Qaeda, this would be pretty blanket --

WALLACE: I think her staff amended that to say she would authorize some limited role.


LIASSON: Yes, her staff amended that to say she would authorize some limited role, but still I think the message for people who were listening to her as opposed to her staff, it sounds like she wants to end this war quite quickly, which I think is movement on her part.

WALLACE: Brit, there really does seem to be a race to the left among -- I mean, I hate to take the phrase of [House Minority Leader] John Boehner {R-OH], but he's right. There is a race to the left by all the Democratic candidates to try to show "I'm tougher against the war than you are."

HUME: Listen, the vote to authorize the war in Iraq is the original sin of this Democratic primary election, and Hillary Clinton is guilty of it and therefore needs to do something to atone for it. And she's tried various things short of saying she regrets her original vote. This is one more step. It is all about positioning herself. It is really not a serious legislative effort. I don't think there's any evidence that this thing could ever, if it passed, survive a veto. But let's remember, Democratic voters have been willing to forgive Clintons of sin in the past and might again this time.

KRISTOL: Brit's more good-humored about this, I must say, than I am. It is so irresponsible when 160,000 troops are fighting in a war, and the head of Al Qaeda says we're going to drive you out -- to stand up on the floor of the Senate and really for patently short-term political reasons. I mean, this is not a serious proposal by Senator Clinton, to say, "Whoops, it's a mistake, let's de-authorize the war that soldiers are fighting and dying in right now." I mean, it's pathetic. If she thinks we should get out, she should propose a serious plan to get out in 30 days or 60 days, not a symbolic ... not give Al Qaeda a symbolic victory, and that's what Senator Clinton's proposal would do. And did last week. It did.

WILLIAMS: And she's the only one involved in political posturing on the war.



KRISTOL: You just said that Republicans, against the polls, the Republicans are standing for fighting and winning. Against the public opinion polls.

WILLIAMS: What you see coming from Republicans on the war, I think, is a refusal to deal with the reality, to simply say "Oh, no, we have got to stay there and support our president despite the realities on the ground." That's political posturing. I agree, Hillary Clinton is involved in political posturing because just as Brit said, this has no chance, this is all about her presidential campaign. But when you look at what the Republicans are saying, they are absolutely closing their eyes and pretending that there's not a civil war taking place.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
FOX Broadcasting Company
Chris Wallace
FOX News Sunday
Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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