Mark Shields Wrongly Claims 'There Was a Plurality of Democratic Senators Opposed to Iraq War'

There was some fascinating historical revisionism that took place on Friday's "Inside Washington" as almost the entire panel made the case that Democrats were largely opposed to the Iraq War Resolution in October 2002 and that the decision to invade was mostly George W. Bush's.

This included PBS's Mark Shields who completely misrepresented the historic vote in the Senate that month (video follows with transcript and commentary):

GORDON PETERSON, HOST: [Donald Rumsfeld] says, he says President Bush asked for a plan on going to war with Iraq just two weeks after the 9/11 attacks, even before the invasion of Afghanistan which is where Osama bin Laden was. Afghanistan. He wasn’t in Iraq.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: Why wouldn't you ask for a plan? Of course you would. Two weeks after 9/11 you’d want a plan about all of our enemies in case of contingencies. He had no idea there was an alliance. There was not between al Qaeda and Iraq, but you did not know that at the beginning and you want to have a contingency if there were. So, I don’t think you’re going to attack an administration for having a contingency. You can attack it over its decision in the end, but I would add that at that point there was pretty wide national consensus in favor of it. It was not one man who took America into war…

NINA TOTENBERG, NPR: Ooh…

PETERSON: I don’t know about that.

MARK SHIELDS: There was not a national consensus.

TOTENBERG: I don’t think there was a wide consensus.

Really? Well here's what USA Today reported on March 16, 2003, days before the invasion began:

By a 2-to-1 ratio, Americans favor invading Iraq with U.S. ground troops to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Not since November 2001 have they approved so overwhelmingly. Nearly six in 10 say they're ready for such an invasion "in the next week or two."

Some polls showed even stronger support at the time, in particular a Pew poll taken shortly after the invasion finding 74 percent believed it was the right decision. A Washington Post/ABC News poll also taken that April found 70 percent support.

Now, years later, Peterson, Shields, and Totenberg would like people to think there was no such consensus. In fact, with each passing year, the number of liberals claiming there was no consensus concerning the invasion approaches the number of liberals claiming there's a scientific consensus concerning global warming!

But Krauthammer pushed back:

KRAUTHAMMER: It passed the Congress.

PETERSON: It passed the Congress, that’s, but…

SHIELDS: I would be happy…

KRAUTHAMMER: Every presidential candidate except Barack Obama, among the Democrats, had supported the resolution to go to war…

SHIELDS: And Barack Obama was in fact the nominee of the Democratic Party…

KRAUTHAMMER: But he wasn’t in the Senate at the time.

SHIELDS: …largely on the strength of his having opposed…

KRAUTHAMMER: Yeah, two years later, three years later. It was even…

SHIELDS: …having opposed it…

TOTENBERG: At the time.

SHIELDS: There was a plurality of Democratic senators in the United States Senate opposed to going to war in Iraq…

PETERSON: Led by Ted Kennedy.

SHIELDS: …led by Ted Kennedy and a whole bunch of others, but Charles is right about the presidential candidates.

There certainly was not a plurality of Democrat senators that voted against the war resolution. Even the liberal Wikipedia admits that on October 11, 2002, 29 Democrats voted Aye with 21 Nays.

How Shields got away with such an egregious error is beyond me.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.