Why Bush/Cheney continue to say Kerry voted for the war

Whatever one thinks of Kerry and Edwards votes for the resolution authorizing the President to use force in Iraq (and I for one think they made a mistake), I am amazed that Bush and Cheney continue to claim that this means they “voted for the war.” Cheney did this again and again in the debate, and here is Bush today:

This is a complete deception because, at the time, Bush did not characterize the resolution as a vote for war at all. Here isGeorge W. Bush on September 19, 2002:

(bolding mine.)

Why isn’t Bush being asked to come clean on this flip-flop: Was the resolution a vote to “keep the peace” or was it a vote “to go to war”? Personally, I believe that it was a vote for the war masquerading as a vote to keep the peace because Bush never had any intention to do anything but go to war. He knew that, no matter what happened with the inspectors, he would always be able to spin it as Saddam not cooperating. Saddam almost undermined this by cooperating to an unprecedented degree, including allowing the inspectors unrestricted access to sites and agreeing to (and starting to) destroy missiles that the inspector’s analysis showed could be capable of exceeding the maximum allowable range by a little bit. But, in the end, there was still enough ambiguity in what constituted sufficient cooperation for Bush to make the claim that cooperation was not sufficient and go to war. (He may have been hastened in deciding this by the fact that Hans Blix was becoming less and less impressed with the U.S. intelligence on WMDs since it was not panning out and Bush began to realize that his house-of-cards was collapsing around him.)

Well, I’ve rambled on enough. What say the Dopers at large?

Perhaps a link to the resolution itself would be useful. I beleive it specifically identifies Saddam as a threat, references the WMDs and authorizes Bush in his sole discretion to use force as he deems necessary to enforce the letter of the UN resolutions against Iraq.

If it does indeed say those things than, yeah, they voted for the war.

If one would be willing to get the semantics out of the deal, I don’t think there’s any doubt that congress knew they were voting to go to war. It was worded in a way so that they could approve going to war without having to later accept responsinility for their actions if the war became unpopular.

I call “bullshit!” on both of you. The President was claiming that he needed the credible threat of force to make Saddam allow the inspectors back in and give them access, yada, yada! To claim that this was “a vote for war” is just mind-boggling. And, it also means that you are saying that Bush was lying in what he said over and over again.

Since you asked, here is the text of the Congressional Resolution.

Here is also a link to what I believe was Hans Blix’s last presentation to the U.N. on March 7th. From there, you can also look at the presentation of the AIEA’s ElBaradei and of Colin Powell’s response (in which you can see many things we now know to be untrue and some arguments that full cooperation from Saddam would mean showing the inspectors things…like mobile weapons labs…that we now know did not exist).

You seem to be implying that Congress wanted to have it both ways. However, it wasn’t Congress…certainly not the Democrats…that came up with this idea of having a resolution as far as I can recall. I believe it was the President. And, I think he was trying to have it both ways: If they vote against it, he can claim that they are tying his hands on an issue of national security and showing Saddam that we are not united in wanting to get the inspectors in. If they vote for it, then he can later claim that they voted for the war and thus it was not just his decision but also theirs.

Politically, it was brilliant.

So it was a “war resolution”, and everybody knew it? What, then, was the purpose of all that verbiage denying that it was a “war resolution”? Why doesn’t it just say “Sic 'em, George!”

But it is very interesting how much the resolution references the UN Security Council. Lines like “enforcing Security Council Resolutions”, stuff like that. Now, to my reading, that sort of says if the Security Council made a new resolution on Iraq that did not sanction invasion, would GeeDubya have been bound by law to accept it?

Kinda clarifies the Big Flip-Flop. You remember, how on Friday he was just plumb determined to get a vote on the second resolution, gonna see “everybody’s cards”, yessiree, Bob, nobody gonna stop him from taking that to a vote…

Well, maybe not. Looks like we would lose. Down the memory hole. It’s Monday, it never happened, I never said it.

Kerry made a mistake, it was in trusting GeeDubya. So did a lot of you. I didn’t.

Why doesn’t the US resolution refer to UNSC 1441? Oh yeah, because it was approved before the US took the issue to the UN. A vote for war? Please. An authorization for the use of force - sure, as the administration demanded the negotiation power it wielded.

Kerry voted to give the final decision to the President. And what was he voting to authorize?

He let the President make the determination that included:

Isn’t it reasonable to support the resolution to achieve the first quote without agreeing with the President’s determination in the second quote invoking it a half a year later? Especially after the failure of the UN inspectors to validate either violations of the UNSC resolutions or a “continuing threat” posed by Iraq?

“Kerry voted for the war” makes a nice soundbite, but doesn’t tell the whole story.

For those who think that Senators who voted for the resolutions were snookered, I have a serious of questions:

How often has such a resolutoin been passed that did NOT lead the use of force?

There were, I believe, 23 Senators who did voted NO on the resolution. Why do you suppose they voted that way?

The resolution was passed in October, and the war started in March. During those months leading up to the war, and especially as we approached March, was there any attempt to introduce a further resolution to place some restircitions on Bush’s ability to start the war?

During the debate to pass the resolution, there was talk about adding a clause to require UNSC approval. Why didn’t democrats like Kerry add language to that effect. I don’t have any cites for Kerry, but Biden (D-Delawar) is on record in Sept '02 as saying:

Further, note that some democratic Senators clearly saw that war was the most likely course. Was Kerry oblovious to this:

Yes, it’s technically accurate that the resolution wasn’t a vote for war. But you’d have to be naive in the extreme to think it would not lead to war.

Having protested against the Vietnam war, one would think that Kerry would be especially warry of voting YES on such a resolution. He did, after all, vote NO on the resolution for Desert Storm. Clearly, Kerry was more concerned about the political ramifications for himself if he voted against it than he was about the ramifications for the country if he did.

This does not absolve Bush from responsibility for the war. It is his and his alone. I have no doubt that had Kerry been president, he would not have initiated a similar war. But he either supported Bush in that effort, or he was too much of political chicken-shit to oppose him. Take your pick.

Let me modify that last paragraph. Bush bears full responsibility for LEADING us to war. But Congress bears full responsibility for giving up its constutionally designated authority to wage war. In my opinion, no Congressman should ever, ever do that. If you do, I don’t want to hear you complaining that it wasn’t your fault. Congress holds the keys to the kingdom in that respect.

The purpose of all that verbiage was politics. It’s CYA stuff, at which politicians excel.

John, well I don’t doubt that the senators recognized that the resolution might well lead to war. However, I think they were under the impression (delusion) that the circumstances under which it would lead to war is if Saddam was clearly defiant and was refusing to let the inspectors in or let them have free access to the facilities or so forth. And, of course, in that case the war would likely have involved at least a somewhat broader coalition of countries than what we had because there would have been a unified belief that we had exhausted diplomatic means.

However, that is not what we got. Instead, we got a Saddam who was being more compliant than anyone would have imagined (and we now know why…because he didn’t have anything very significant to hide). And, we had inspectors who felt they were making good progress. Were there unresolved issues that they were pressing the Iraqis to provide more documentation on? Certainly. But, really the biggest news was that the inspectors were getting to go where the U.S. believed there to be WMDs and they were not finding any evidence of them. They were also concluding with a reasonably high degree of confidence that Saddam had not restarted a nuclear program. And, this is when our president made the decision to go to war.

So, what it really came down to in voting for that resolution was whether each Senator or Representative felt that getting inspectors back in Iraq was worth threatening Saddam with war over…and being willing to back up that threat if necessary…or whether it was not worth doing this. And, to my mind, there were two main reasons why one could choose to vote against the resolution:

(1) You didn’t believe it was important enough to get the inspectors in that it was worth going to war over if Saddam chose to be defiant.

(2) You thought it might be important enough but you knew that Bush was a liar and would abuse the authority if Congress gave him it.

(3) As a matter of principle, you felt that Congress should always have the final say in whether or not we should go to war [and were willing to risk in regards to (1), that Saddam might not take the demands to let the inspectors in as seriously without such a resolution].

And, I really respect those who were brave enough to vote against the resolution for one or more of these reasons (or some other reason that I haven’t thought of). But, I can also understand the position of those who voted for the resolution but really wanted war only as a last resort.

So, are you claiming that the purpose of the resolution was to vote to go to war independent of what Saddam did?

Even if one accepts the idea that the Senators knew full well that voting for this resolution was tantamount to authorizing the war, I’m surprised I haven’t heard Kerry make the argument that they were, in fact, snookered, but in a different way.

They were snookered in that they believed what the administration was telling them about the threat posed by Iraq. The Senate doesn’t have its own intelligence service - they have to rely on what they’re told by the CIA, NSA, etc., all arms of the Executive. They voted for the war because they thought Iraq was a genuine threat. They didn’t know, at the time, that they were simply being lied to, just like the rest of us.

They didn’t know that Iraq had no chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons. They didn’t know that Iraq didn’t have any active programs to produce such weapons. They didn’t know that Iraq had virtually nothing to do with any of the terrorists targeting the U.S. If they’d been told the truth, it’s hard to imagine that they would have passed that resolution.

And, what do you make of Bush’s statements about the resolution: Lies, deceptions, pretty rhetoric that was meant to provide cover for Senators and Reps who wanted to vote to go to war but didn’t want to be seen as voting to go to war? [And, if the latter was true, why was Bush so concerned about providing this cover?]

I need you to give me a complete story that makes sense, not just vague claims.

My analogy to voting for the resolution versus voting “for war” is this:

We authorize police to carry weapons every day because we know that this helps to compel people to comply with their commands. This does not lead directly to an authorization to shoot people. We still require certain elements to be in place to consider a police officer firing on others to be lawful and acceptable.

I would have preferred that Kerry (and everyone else) vote No to even the resolution, but that does not mean Kerry’s position is not reasonable and logical.

That’s certainly how Bush chose to use it.

The text, for those too lazy to do their own Googling. Note that most of it is about “diplomatic efforts” and Bush working with the UN. *Only * for compliance with UN resolutions was war authorized, and that obviously meant *with * UN authorization, not despite it. Who thinks that happened? Who thinks Bush ever really gave a damn, or does now for that matter?

Hentor, good analogy.

Of course, my last post was a continuation of my response to John Carter of Mars and was not directed at Early Out.

Actually, the Kerry campaign has been pointing this out in regards to the aluminum tubes issue:

Let’s not forget Kerry’s speech before he voted to authorize the use of force, a speech in which he clearly delineated the constraints the President was under and the tests he needed to pass before he could legitimately use that force:

I can pretty much agree with that, although it was very clear early on (either right before or right after the resolution passed) that the French, Germans and Russians were not going to authorize the use of force, so I don’t see how anyone could have thought they would be in on the coalition.

And Kerry’s own voting record on Iraq is one of the main reasons I question his motives. He had no problem voting against the Desert Storm resolution, which DID include a broad coalition. He also had no problem registering what he called a protest vote against the $87B appropriations bill. Why, then, since he must have known that the authorization for force would passs the Senate, did he not vote consistently with his other votes on the issue? He could’ve registered a protest vote and it wouldn’t have affected the outcome.

We’ll never really know what went thru his kead. But I think that the most parsimonious explanation is that he simply voted in a way which was most politically beneficail to him at the time, just as he did with his NO vote in the early '90s and his NO vote for the $87B appropriations bill.