KURTZ (2/11/07): Greg Sargent has pulled up Sen. Clinton's floor speech on the Iraq War resolution from October 10, 2002. It's worth a refresher as Clinton tries to finesse her vote now.Astonishing—simply astounding. Would Clinton cast the same vote on the war resolution knowing what we know now? I cant believe she would, Kurtz writes. He restates this astounding formulation at the end of his post:
Which brings me to another point.
Why is she trying to finesse her vote?
On the substance of it, would she really cast the same vote today knowing what we know now? I can't believe she would. Does she regret, therefore, casting that vote? She won't say that exactly, which leads one to conclude that she has political reasons for not saying so.
But what political reasons?
KURTZ: Maybe I'm oversimplifying this, but since I can't figure out why she would hew to this position for political reasons, I circle back to the substance of the issue. Would she cast that vote again knowing what she knows now? Maybe she would. But, again, I doubt it. She's too smart for that.Our first thought would be the following: Kurtzs post, which is simply astounding, gives us a look at the age.
I'm left with thoroughly unsatisfying explanations; such as, she's too stubborn to admit a mistake. Thoughts?
Whats so astounding about this post? Repeatedly, Kurtz wonders if Clinton would vote the same way on the war resolution knowing what she knows now. I can't believe she would, he says. Maybe she would, but I doubt it, he says. But Clinton has said, again and again, that she wouldnt cast that same vote again. Kurtz shows absolutely no sign of knowing this elementary fact.
But then, this is exactly what weve been discussing over the past week or two. Repeatedly, reporters and pundits refuse to report the things that Clinton has said on this matter. Instead, they get out their hammers and nail-guns and build a tortured, misleading framework around her. She wont recant/retract/repudiate her vote, they keep saying. And they keep refusing to report the things Clinton has actually said.
Result? To all appearances, even someone as smart and involved as Kurtz doesnt know the simple facts about what Clinton has actually said.
But this is how the fixers like it—they like to keep you barefoot and pregnant. Why is someone as smart as Kurtz so clueless about what Clinton has said? Presumably, because the fixers have been busy, as we told you all last week. Indeed, they were busy in Sunday mornings papers! If you want to know why many voters are probably clueless on this matter, just consider what Chris Cillizzza, the pitiful Pat Healy and Foxs Carl Cameron did.
CILLIZZA SPINS YOU BLUE: They made it look amazingly easy—perhaps because it actually is. In Sundays Post, Dan Balz and Anne Kornblut reported on Obamas Springfield announcement. And omigod! They did the work of real reporters in the following passage:
BALZ/KORNBLUT (2/11/07): Obama's sharpest difference with both Clinton and Edwards is his early opposition to the Iraq war; they voted for the 2002 resolution authorizing President Bush to invade Iraq. Edwards has since apologized for his vote, and Clinton has said she would not have voted that way had she known then what she knows now.Omigod! Instead of offering murky formulations about whether Clinton has retracted her vote, Balz and Kornblut simply reported what Clinton has actually said! (And what Edwards has done.) If we Dems have even one ounce of sense, well insist on this kind of work whenever our hopefuls are covered. Well insist on it—even for hopefuls who may not be our top choice. If we have even one ounce of sense.
CILLIZZA (2/11/07): Tilton, a financial consultant from Nashua who had risen at 4 a.m. to make the drive north, asked Clinton to apologize for her vote. She refused—reiterating her stance that "I have taken responsibility for my vote.From reading that passage, do you have any real idea what Clinton actually said to Tilton? Do you have any idea what Clinton has said about this matter in the past? Cillizza tells us what Clinton wouldnt say; she wouldnt apologize for her vote, were told, and she may have refused to call her vote a mistake. But just what did she say to Tilton? All we get from Cillizza is this: "I have taken responsibility for my vote. Thats a remarkably murky clip—seven words which tell us next to nothing. Later, Cillizza says that Obama and Edwards have spoken out strongly against the war—while absent-mindedly forgetting to say that Clinton has spoken out too.
Tilton was unmoved. "Until she says it was a mistake, she won't get my vote," he said.
The exchange highlighted the challenge Clinton faces in her still-new candidacy for president. She must convince Democratic primary voters, who tend to be strongly opposed to the war in Iraq, that her pragmatic approach to ending the conflict is the right one.
Complicating that task is that her two main rivals for the Democratic nomination—Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) and former senator John Edwards (N.C.)—have spoken out strongly against the war. In his formal announcement of his bid for president Saturday, Obama mentioned his proposal to withdraw U.S. combat troops from Iraq by March 2008.
TILTON (2/10/07): I want to know if right here, right now, once and for all, without nuance, you can say that that war authorization vote was a mistake...The reason I ask personally is because I, and I think a lot of other Democratic primary voters, until we hear you say that, were not going to hear all these other great things youre saying.It was the first thing Clinton said! But Cillizza chose to omit it, as the boys have been doing for weeks. Instead, he quoted Clintons third sentence—a short statement which made little sense out of context. But that, of course, was exactly the point—and a few hours later, David Kurtz wrote that astounding post.
CLINTON: Well, I have said, and I will repeat it, that, knowing what I know now, I would never have voted for it. [audience applause] But I also—and, I mean, obviously you have to weigh everything as you make your decision. I have taken responsibility for my vote. The mistakes were made by this president, who misled this country and this Congress into a war that should not have been waged.
HEALY (2/11/07): [Clinton] was forced at one point to account for her own history on Iraq. One audience member, Roger Tilton of Nashua, asked her right here, right now, once and for all, without nuance to call her 2002 vote a mistake.Good God! Now thats prime Grade A hack-work! Clinton repeated her standard talking points, Healy typed. Translation: Clinton repeated a phony statement which she has memorized well.
Until we hear you say that, were not going to hear all these other great things youve said, Mr. Tilton said.
In response, Mrs. Clinton repeated her standard talking points that she would never have cast it if she had had the intelligence information that she had [sic] now.
CAMERON (2/11/07): First stop Iowa, the lead-off caucus state. [Obama] trails by double digits in the polls, behind Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. She made her first trip to New Hampshire and again refused to say her vote for the Iraq war was wrong even though rival John Edwards has said just that and Democrats clearly want her to.That was the end of the dispatch. We were told that Clinton again refused to say her vote for the Iraq war was wrong. We were shown part of Tiltons question—and none of Clintons answer! Clinton had said, Well, I have said, and I will repeat it, that, knowing what I know now, I would never have voted for it. But Cameron didnt show viewers that. Instead, he gave them his preferred construction: She just wont say her vote was wrong. But then, thats pretty much what readers were handed by Cillizza in the Post..
TILTON (videotape) I want to know if right here right now once and for all without nuance you can say that that war authorization vote was a mistake.
CLINTON, ADJUSTED: Well, we were all mistaken when we decided to give this authority to President Bush—because, as things turned out, he very badly misused it. Unfortunately, we were wrong when we gave him that power.Thats close to what shes saying now. It would be fairly easy to say something like that, and we assume (after yesterday) that Clinton will have to do so.
EDWARDS (11/13/05): The argument for going to war with Iraq was based on intelligence that we now know was inaccurate. The information the American people were hearing from the president—and that I was being given by our intelligence community—wasn't the whole story. Had I known this at the time, I never would have voted for this war.Of course, thats exactly what Clinton says; its what she said in New Hampshire on Saturday. Not that youll learn that by reading Cillizza. Deeply troubled by the Clintons dishonesty, Chris Cillizza invented a tale. At Fox Carl Cameron did the same thing. Its what such boys have long done.