Hillary's Malleable War Opinion

Listening to Hillary Clinton’s clumsy attempts to paint herself as a longtime opponent of the war in Iraq, one has to wonder just how dumb she thinks the American voters are. She now seems to be claiming that her vote for the war resolution in 2002 was really not a vote to go to war!

In lines reminiscent of her husband’s famous “it depends on what the meaning of the word is,” Hillary told the New Hampshire Union Leader last weekend that her vote for the 2002 Joint Resolution, authorizing President Bush to deploy U.S. military forces in Iraq, was “not a vote for a preemptive war.” No, according to Mrs. Clinton, her vote was actually “a show of support for further United Nations weapons inspections.”


After several days of contentious debate in the Senate on what she described at the time as “the hardest decision” she had ever made, did she really think that she was voting to make the weapons inspectors feel better?

Did she actually read what the bill said before she cast that most difficult vote? Because the bill clearly said that:

“The president is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate…”

Was that so hard to understand?

Apparently only in hindsight.

Hillary voted ‘Yes” on the resolution, along with the Senate Republicans. At the time that the bill passed in October of 2002, she was in the midst of yet another makeover campaign. This time, she was repositioning herself as a centrist, to show that she wasn’t just a knee-jerk liberal. Being a hawk on Iraq was part of the strategy. And, with the polls showing overwhelming support for the resolution, Hillary’s vote was a cinch.

Two months later, after a trip to Iraq, Mrs. Clinton was still supportive of the war effort. In her first appearance on a national news show since her election in 2000, she told Tim Russert on Meet The Press that she wasn’t concerned about whether Saddam had actually had WMDs:
''I think that Saddam Hussein was certainly a potential threat'' and ''was seeking weapons of mass destruction, whether or not he actually had them.”

But now she claims that she was mislead and would not have voted for the resolution if she had known then what she knows now. Which is what? She’s known for years that there were no WMDs.

Now she’s against a troop surge in Iraq, too. But in late 2003, she also told Russert that we needed “more troops” in Iraq.

At about the same time, she spoke to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. According to Salon.com, “Clinton made four key points: She doesn't regret voting to authorize the president to go to war; she's "delighted" that Saddam Hussein was captured; American troops should stay in Iraq for as long as they're needed, and at higher levels than present, if necessary; and the postwar fight to secure Iraq is crucial.”

But that was then and now is now. At this point, she’s a presidential candidate and she’s suddenly adamantly against sending more troops. Why? Because she can’t afford to be a hawk in a field of anti-war democrats.

Apparently Mrs. Clinton believes that even though she voted for the war resolution, she, in fact, opposed it because she gave a speech on the Senate floor, saying she was not voting for a new “preemptive doctrine.”

And speaking of preemptive, what is Hillary talking about? Did she think that the Congress authorized the President to use troops in the event that Iraq attacked the U.S.? Of course not.
If the speech was meant to be a CYA memo, it won’t fly. The Senator who claims that she has the ‘responsibility gene’ and stands by her pro-war vote is trying to have it both ways. So when Mrs. Clinton says she knows more now than when she cast the vote, she must be referring to polling data showing that Democratic party primary voters don’t agree with her vote. That’s the only thing that’s new.

Dick Morris served as Bill Clinton's political consultant for twenty years, guiding him to a successful reelection in 1996. He is the author of New York Times bestsellers Because He Could, Rewriting History (both with Eileen McGann), Off with Their Heads, and Behind the Oval Office, and the Washington Post bestseller Power Plays.

Copyright Eileen McGann and Dick Morris 2006. To obtain free copies of all of the columns and newsletters by Dick Morris and Eileen McGann for non-commercial use, please sign up at www.dickmorris.com.

Dick Morris is a Fox News contributor and author. His latest book is "Here Come the Black Helicopters: UN Global Governance and the Loss of Freedom." Visit his website: www.dickmorris.com and follow him on Twitter@DickMorrisTweet. Click here to sign up to get all of Dick's videos emailed to you.