Fun With Context: Where Did the President Get Those Democratic Quotes?:
Let's be a little bit wonky today: Yesterday, in another one of his pathetic little whines about critics of the Iraq war, George Bush, making a not-unlike-Nixon trip to Asia, stopped in Alaska to say: "Let me give you some quotes from three senior Democrat leaders: First, and I quote, 'There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons.' Another senior Democrat leader said, 'The war against terrorism will not be finished as long as Saddam Hussein is in power.' Here's another quote from a senior Democrat leader: 'Saddam Hussein, in effect, has thumbed his nose at the world community. And I think the President is approaching this in the right fashion.' They spoke the truth then, and they're speaking politics now."
Since Bush dared not speak the names of the Democrats in question or offer any context for their quotes, hey, why not do some good bloggy work here?
The first quote is from Senator Jay Rockefeller, which is the closest to a money quote in the whole thing. Rockefeller said this in the mini-debate over the Iraq War Resolution on October 10, 2002, which Rockefeller voted to approve. Also in the speech is Rockefeller's belief that war with Iraq would lead to greater terrorist threats against the U.S. And he was played for a sucker by the administration when he said, "Preventing a war with Saddam Hussein -- whether now or later -- must be our top priority, and I believe this resolution will strengthen the president’s hand to resolve this crisis peacefully. By my vote, I say to the United Nations and our allies that America is united in our resolve to deal with Saddam Hussein, and that the U.N. must act to eliminate his weapons of mass destruction. By my vote, I say to Saddam Hussein, 'Disarm, or the United States will be forced to act.'"
But that wish for the U.N. to stay involved and for the administration to try for peace doesn't stop the Rockefeller line from showing up on every nutzoid right wing blog and website claiming that Democrats wanted 'em some warrin', too. But Rockefeller has now unequivocally said that he was wrong back then, that he wouldn't have voted for the war if he had seen all the intelligence (and let's be clear here: saying that the Congress saw "the same" intelligence the President saw is not the same as saying the Congress saw all the intelligence the President had access to. It's like seeing your best friend's wife in a thong and your best friend insists that you've seen his wife naked. No, you may have seen her ass, but there's so, so much more that's been hidden. You've both seen the same ass, not the same body).
The second quote is from Senator Carl Levin, who was not really beatin' the Iraq war drums when he said, on CNN's Late Edition With Wolf Blitzer on December 16, 2001, in answer to Blitzer's question about whether or not Saddam Hussein was a terrorist: "I agree, but exactly the way Senator Kyl put it. The war against terrorism will not be finished as long as he is in power. But that does not mean he is the next target. And the commitment to do that, it seems to me, could be disruptive of our alliance that still has work to do in Afghanistan. And a lot will depend on what the facts are in various places as to what terrorist groups are doing, and as to whether or not we have facts as to whether or not the Iraqis have been involved in the terrorist attack of September 11, or whether or not Saddam is getting a weapon of mass destruction and is close to it. So facts will determine what our next targets are."
The third quote is from Senator Harry Reid who was being interviewed by Judy Woodruff on CNN's Inside Politics on September 18, 2002. Reid was asked about Democrats and their approach to the upcoming "quick vote" on a resolution to give the President authority to go to war. Woodruff wondered,"Are Democrats apparently all just jumping on this bandwagon? Or there is going to be a real debate, the kind that the American people deserve on this"
Reid responded, "As you know when his father went into Iraq, we had a very good debate. Some said one of the best debates in the last 40 years in Congress. We're going to have a debate. But I think we have to acknowledge what's gone on in Iraq. Saddam Hussein, in effect, has thumbed his nose at the world community. And I think that the president's approaching this in the right fashion. He's now trying to get the international community to join. Secretary Powell is basically living in New York, working with international community. And we have made progress...Right now, we're kind of speaking in a vacuum. The Democratic leadership and the Republican leadership, House, and Senate met with the president today. They talked in some generalities, but even today, I don't think the administration knows what they want to do. To get to -- to be very direct and specific, if we wanted to invade Iraq, it's going to take months to get that ready, not days, or weeks. So this isn't anything that's going to happen tomorrow. I think we should get this resolution out of the way. Maybe it would help the administration focus on the domestic policy if we did that."
Then, Reid added, cutely, now, in retrospect, "Oh, I don't think you're going to see blank check. And I don't think the president will ask for a blank check."
So there it is: one quote from a Senator who now says he's wrong, one from a Senator who said war in Iraq would disrupt the effort in Afghanistan, and one from a Senator who believed that the administration had no plan and was going to take it's time and that there would be a great and mighty debate. Now, tell us again, oh, shiny and wonderful Bush administration, how were you not manipulating these people?