Bush Campaign Lies

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Bush Campaign Lie #12: Kerry Flip-Flopped on Iraq War 

This is the first lie in the 'Kerry's Flip-Flops' series. The GOP gives four pieces of evidence to back up their claim:

  1. Kerry Voted For Authorization To Use Force In Iraq
  2. In a Democrats' debate on May 4, 2003, Kerry said "George, I said at the time I would have preferred if we had given diplomacy a greater opportunity, but I think it was the right decision to disarm Saddam Hussein, and when the President made the decision, I supported him, and I support the fact that we did disarm him."
  3. On September 3, 2003, Kerry said "I voted to threaten the use of force to make Saddam Hussein comply with the resolutions of the United Nations."
  4. On MSNBC's 'Hardball' program, on January 6, 2004, the following exchange took place. MATTHEWS: "Do you think you belong to that category of candidates who more or less are unhappy with this war, the way it’s been fought, along with General Clark, along with Howard Dean and not necessarily in companionship politically on the issue of the war with people like Lieberman, Edwards and Gephardt? Are you one of the anti-war candidates?" KERRY: "I am -- Yes, in the sense that I don’t believe the president took us to war as he should have, yes, absolutely."
Republicans like to call H.J. Res 114 in the 107th Congress the bill authorizing the use of force in Iraq, and it did that --- subject to certain caveats. Primarily, the bill empowered the president to 'defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq' and 'enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq'. However, it placed equal emphasis on a diplomatic solution achieved through the UN, and required the president to confirm that all diplomatic means for resolving the dispute had been exhausted.

In short, the spirit of the bill was that Iraq should be disarmed, by diplomatic means in concert with the UN if at all possible, and by force if necessary as a last resort. That Kerry voted for this bill is true, and consistent with item (1). That this bill threatened Hussein with the use of force unless he complied with UN resolutions is also true, and consistent with item (3). In item (2), Kerry says that disarming Hussein is good, but he would have preferred that it had been done through diplomatic means (consistent with the bill again). He also says that he supported the President when he made the decision, but considering that he states his preference for a diplomatic solution in the same breath, he surely means that he supported the President in a rally-around-the-leader in a time of war sort of way, not that he agreed that Bush had exhausted all diplomatic remedies. Finally, in item (4), Kerry says Bush didn't 'take us to war as he should have'. Here he's not disagreeing with the war or its goal, but rather the manner in which Bush handled it. While it's fairly clear what Kerry means here, it's absolutely clear that the GOP understands what he means. See Lie #10.

Kerry was disagreeing with Bush's conduct of the war (not giving inspections time to work, destroying alliances at the UN rather than building them up, etc.), and not the war itself. To claim that this represents a reversal on Kerry's part is a lie.

10:40 PM