Robert Waldmann shakes his head in disbelief at Peter Baker of the Washington Post: only if you read not just the headline and paragraphs 1-7 of Baker's article but paragraph 8 does he come clean.
Former White House aide Karl Rove said yesterday it was Congress, not President Bush, who wanted to rush a vote on the looming war in Iraq in the fall of 2002, a version of events disputed by leading congressional Democrats and even some former Rove colleagues.
Rove said that the administration did not want lawmakers to vote on a resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq that soon because it would "make things move too fast," before Bush could line up international allies, and politicize the issue ahead of midterm elections. But Democrats and some Republicans involved with the issue at the time said yesterday that Bush wanted a quick vote.
The fresh clash over the five-year-old vote made plain how political leaders on all sides are trying to shape the history of that moment. Former president Bill Clinton this week asserted that he flatly opposed the war from the beginning, a contention challenged by a former White House official who briefed him at the time. Some presidential candidates, including Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), have portrayed themselves as more skeptical than others recalled.
Speaking on PBS's "Charlie Rose" talk show last week, Rove said Congress pushed to have the vote before the election. "The administration was opposed to voting on it in the fall of 2002," Rove said. Asked why, he said: "Because we didn't think it belonged within the confines of the election. There was an election coming up within a matter of weeks. We thought it made it too political. We wanted it outside the confines of it. It seemed to make things move too fast. There were things that needed to be done to bring along allies and potential allies abroad."
Democrats accused him of rewriting history. "Either he has a very faulty memory, or he's not telling the truth," said ex-Senate majority leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.). In an interview, Daschle said he asked Bush during a breakfast to delay the vote until after the election. "They told us time was of the essence and they needed the vote and they were going to move forward," he said.
Steve Elmendorf, chief of staff to then-House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.), said it would not benefit Democrats to vote before the elections. "That does not ring true to me," he said of Rove's remarks. "I can't imagine why it would be in our interest to do that."
Rove repeated his assertion in an interview yesterday, pointing to comments made by Democrats in 2002 that they wanted a vote. "For Democrats to suggest they didn't want to vote on it before the election is disingenuous," he said. The vote schedule, he said, was set by lawmakers. "We don't control that."
And finally, paragraph 8:
News accounts and transcripts at the time show Bush arguing against delay. Asked on Sept. 13, 2002, about Democrats who did not want to vote until after the U.N. Security Council acted, Bush said, "If I were running for office, I'm not sure how I'd explain to the American people -- say, 'Vote for me, and, oh, by the way, on a matter of national security, I think I'm going to wait for somebody else to act.' "
Four years, Washington Post. I give you four years. Four years. And after that who do those of you who have worked so enthusiastically for Graham and Downie and Hiatt think will ever hire you?