Tumblr Icon RSS Icon

Rove Tries To Rewrite History: Claims WH ‘Opposed’ Politicizing Pre-War Iraq Vote

By Faiz Shakir on November 22, 2007 at 11:16 am

"Rove Tries To Rewrite History: Claims WH ‘Opposed’ Politicizing Pre-War Iraq Vote"

Share:

google plus icon

Last night on The Charlie Rose Show, former Bush political adviser Karl Rove claimed that he was “opposed” to holding the pre-war Iraq vote just ahead of the 2002 elections. “The administration was opposed to voting on it in the fall of 2002,” Rove said. He stated that his upcoming book will argue that the administration did not want to schedule an Iraq war vote prior to the 2002 elections:

ROSE: But you were opposed to the vote.

ROVE: It happened. We don’t determine when the Congress vote on things. The Congress does.

ROSE: You wish it hadn’t happened at that time. You would have preferred it did not happen at that time.

ROVE: That’s right.

Watch it:

Recall, the House and the Senate voted on whether to authorize war against Iraq in October 2002, just a few weeks prior to the 2002 elections.

Rove’s claim is utterly dishonest and flat-out false. In Sept. 2002, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) asked President Bush to delay the vote on the Iraq war:

“I asked directly if we could delay this so we could depoliticize it. I said: ‘Mr. President, I know this is urgent, but why the rush? Why do we have to do this now?’ He looked at Cheney and he looked at me, and there was a half-smile on his face. And he said: ‘We just have to do this now.’”

While some Democrats — particularly Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-MO) — were arguing that it was “imperative” that Congress vote immediately to authorize war, had the White House wanted to delay the vote until after the 2002 elections, they would have found a great deal of support. Here’s what a few key leaders were saying at the time:

Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL): “It would be a severe mistake for us to vote on Iraq with as little information as we have. This would be a rash and hasty decision.”

Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA): “I do not believe the decision should be made in the frenzy of an election year.”

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): “I know of no information that the threat is so imminent from Iraq” that Congress cannot wait until January to vote on a resolution.

But Karl Rove and President Bush weren’t interested in delaying the vote. Rather, the administration actively politicized it. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said, “Delaying a vote in Congress would send the wrong message.” President Bush explicitly told Congress to “get the issue done as quickly as possible“:

My answer to the Congress is, they need to debate this issue and consult with us, and get the issue done as quickly as possible. It’s in our national interests that we do so. I don’t imagine Saddam Hussein sitting around, saying, gosh, I think I’m going to wait for some resolution.

On Sept. 11, 2002, administration officials briefed Congress on Iraq, with the goal of persuading them to schedule a vote to authorize military action. And the administration’s congressional allies were clear on why they wanted to rush the war vote. “People are going to want to know, before the elections, where their representatives stand,” said Rep. Thomas M. Davis (R-VA.), chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. “This could be the vote of the decade, so why wait?”

Digg It!

Transcript:

ROSE: I haven’t heard you be willing to acknowledge any mistakes in eight years.

ROVE: Sure, I’m happy to acknowledge mistakes.

ROSE: Well, tell me one.

ROVE: Social security. We moved too late. We should have moved a heck of a lot earlier.

ROSE: And the war?

ROVE: Uh, the war– I’m– I’m going to be circumspect about this– look, you’re trying to get me to gush my whole book out there. Were there mistakes made in the war, yeah?

ROSE: I’m not trying to make you gush your book.

ROVE: You can make the argument– you can make an argument that we should have done the surge earlier–

ROSE: Go way back. Make the argument perhaps we should have delayed and let the inspections take their–

ROVE: Charlie– Charlie, I’m not going to tell you the answer to this but I want you to remember you asked me about that because one of the untold stories about the war is why did the United States Congress, the United States Senate, vote on the war resolution in the fall of 2002?

ROSE: Why?

ROVE: This administration was opposed to it. I’m going to talk about that in my book.

ROSE: Tell me, give me–

ROVE: No, no.

ROSE: Give me something.

ROVE: No.

ROSE: Give me something.

ROVE: I just did. I told you the administration was opposed to voting on it in the fall of 2002.

ROSE: Because?

ROVE: Because we didn’t think it belonged in the confines of the election. We thought it made it too political. We wanted it outside the confines of the election. It seemed it make things move too fast. There were things that needed to be done to bring along allies and potential allies abroad and yet–

ROSE: So you didn’t do it because…?

ROVE: There was a vote, and I’m– I’m–

ROSE: But you were opposed to the vote.

ROVE: It happened. we don’t determine when the Congress vote on things. The Congress does.

ROSE: You wish it hadn’t happened at that time. you would have preferred it did not happen at that time.

ROVE: That’s right.

ROSE: Because your argument– your argument is you would have had maybe more inspections. You would have been able to build a broader coalition. You could have done a whole lot other things if you didn’t have to have a vote, right?

ROVE: Right, right, exactly.

‹ PREVIOUS
21 Reasons To Give Thanks

NEXT ›
Former top commander in Iraq calls for withdrawal.

By clicking and submitting a comment I acknowledge the ThinkProgress Privacy Policy and agree to the ThinkProgress Terms of Use. I understand that my comments are also being governed by Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, or Hotmail’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policies as applicable, which can be found here.