Bill Clinton Complains “It’s Just Not Fair”

Bill Clinton is upset with the manner in which Hillary’s position on the war is being portrayed:

Former President Bill Clinton yesterday complained that “it”s just not fair” the way his wife, presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), is being depicted for her controversial Iraq war vote…

He said he had re-read the Iraq resolution last week, and that his wife had voted only for “coercive inspections.” Clinton justified his wife’s refusal to apologize for her vote by explaining that she was acting out of concern that future presidents might need similar language authorizing “coercive inspections to avoid conflict.”

“It’s just not fair to say that people who voted for the resolution wanted war,” Clinton said.

The former president also quoted an interview with Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) in this month’s GQ magazine, explaining that Hagel’s justification for his vote on the war is very similar to Hillary Clinton’s. “All these people who criticize Hillary all the time all love Hagel for being a critic of the war,” Clinton said.

The real problem isn’t the vote. Reading Hillary Clinton’s Senate Floor Speech makes it clear that at the time she was not eager to go to war and voted for the resolution primarily in the hopes of achieving a diplomatic resolution. The IWR has been used far too much as a litmus test of one’s views on the war. We need to look at more than this vote to achieve a full view of her views.

In 2003 I supported John Kerry for the ’04 nomination despite disagreeing with his vote on the IWR because of his overall view on the war. Not only did Kerry speak out more clearly about the potential that Bush could misuse the authorization to use war as a last resort, he also promised at the time to oppose Bush if he did misuse the authority. John Kerry kept his word. While he made a mistake, which he later admitted, in trusting Bush with this authority, Kerry did speak out many times against going to war before the war began. Kerry made his opposition to going to war clear in his Senate floor statement at the time of the IWR vote, in op-eds in the New York Times and Foreign Affairs, in his pre-war Georgetown Speech, and when he protested going to war by calling for regime change in the United States at the onset of the war.

If Hillary Clinton wants any chance at getting past this issue she must do three things:

  • She must show that opposed going to war unnecessarily not only in her Senate Floor Speech but in other statements leading up to the war. She is widely viewed as having become a cheerleader for the war. If this view is unfair we will need to see it in her statements leading up to the war.
  • She must make clear her views on the proper use of military force. This issue goes beyond what happened in the past as it raises questions of what Clinton would do in the future if she had to make decisions of war and peace.
  • She must admit, as John Kerry and John Edwards have, that she was wrong in voting for the Iraq War Resolution.
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