Wednesday's editions of the CBS "Early Show" and NBC's "Today" show both ignored Bill Clinton's incredible assertion on Tuesday that he opposed the Iraq war from its inception. Only "Good Morning America" correspondent Jake Tapper pointed out the obvious fact that Clinton was no vocal critic of the military action. Filing a report on the subject, Tapper incredulously wondered, "Bill Clinton opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning?"
After acknowledging that the ex-President did call for the U.N. weapons inspectors to have more time, Tapper clarified the record: "...[Bill Clinton] was hardly, at least publicly, an opponent of going to war against Saddam Hussein." The ABC journalist then read from a 2003 speech on the Clinton Foundation's website that featured the former Commander in Chief asserting, "I supported the President when he asked the Congress for authority to stand up against weapons of mass destruction in Iraq." So, despite the fact that ample information exists calling into question the validity of Clinton's recent statement, only GMA covered the story.
One point that no reporter has mentioned is that this isn't the first time Bill Clinton has offered confusing explanations for a conflict with Iraq. On July 31, 1992, the New York Times featured a quote from then-candidate Clinton about the first Gulf War:
In the Associated Press article, Mr. Clinton is quoted as saying that, if he had been a member of Congress, he probably -- not certainly -- would have voted with the majority to grant the President war-making authority, but that he personally agreed with the arguments voiced by the minority, that the United Nations sanctions ought to be given more time to work. "I guess I would have voted for the majority if it was a close vote," Mr. Clinton was quoted as saying. "But I agree with the arguments the minority made." [Emphasis added.]
A transcript of the GMA segment, which aired at 7:03am on November 28, follows:
CHRIS CUOMO: Now to presidential politics in this country and whether former President Bill Clinton helps or hurts Hillary's run for the White House, especially after his latest comments on the Iraq war. Our senior political correspondent Jake Tapper is in Washington. Morning, Jake.
JAKE TAPPER: Good morning, Chris. Well, Senator Hillary Clinton heads to Iowa today to talk about health care reform, but she may find herself overshadowed by comments made by her husband, former President Bill Clinton, who is now saying that he opposed the war in Iraq from the very beginning, a war that his wife voted to authorize and that he did not exactly seem to be protesting at the time. The former President was talking to Iowans about military families and then, a startling claim.
ABC GRAPHIC: Bill Clinton: Iraq War Opponent? How Will Comment Affect Hillary's Campaign?
BILL CLINTON: Even though I approved of Afghanistan and opposed Iraq from the beginning, I still resent that I was not asked or given the opportunity to support those soldiers.
TAPPER: Bill Clinton opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning? At the time, the former President said United Nations inspectors should be given more time to look for weapons of mass destruction. But he was hardly, at least publicly, an opponent of going to war against Saddam Hussein.
BILL CLINTON [File footage from GMA on September 27, 2002]: This guy is-- He's got a very dangerous program. We need to eliminate it.
TAPPER: On his own foundation's website, a 2003 speech where Clinton said, quote, "I supported the President when he asked the Congress for authority to stand up against weapons of mass destruction in Iraq." All of this refocuses attention where his wife does not want it, on her 2002 vote to authorize the President to go to war.
SENATOR HILLARY CLINTON [File footage from October 11, 2002]: Perhaps my decision is influenced by my eight years of experience on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, in the White House, watching my husband deal with serious challenges to our nation.
TAPPER: And it's in Iowa where President Clinton has refocused attention on its war in Iraq, Iowa with its sizable population of anti-war liberal Democrats, where currently in the lead is Senator Barack Obama who opposed the war back in 2002, going so far as to speak at an anti-war rally. Chris?