Saturday, January 10, 2004

The Democrats and the war (a semi-correction). Media Log reader F.C. thinks a correction is in order for my item on the New Republic's endorsement of Joe Lieberman, whom I called "the only one of the nine Democratic presidential candidates" to support the war in Iraq.

"In fact," writes F.C., "Gephardt, Edwards and Kerry all voted to authorize Bush to use military force, and Gephardt was among the first Democrats to do so publicly."

I semi-agree. John Kerry, depending on how things are going on any particular moment, can sound as antiwar as Howard Dean these days, so I will definitely stick with leaving him out of the prowar mix.

As for Gephardt, he said at the time of the vote that he thought it represented the best chance for peace. Here's a postwar Gephardt statement:

I said to President Bush in the Oval Office, a number of times early last year, that he had to get the UN, he had to get NATO, he had to start the inspections, he had to weld together an alliance to do whatever needed to be done. He failed at that. We're now seven months into the event, or eight months, and he still hasn't gotten it done!

That said, Gephardt did vote "yes" on the Bush administration's request for $87 billion to help reconstruct Iraq. So did Lieberman.

On the other hand, Kerry and Edwards voted "no." And though Edwards has not sought to distance himself from his prowar vote with quite the vigor that Gephardt has, his statement about the $87 billion were pointed:

The policy this administration was pursuing in Iraq was not working. It needed to be changed. And I wanted to say absolutely clearly that it needed to be changed.

What's beyond dispute is that no one other than Lieberman has made this kind of statement:

Look, long before George Bush became president, I reached a conclusion that Saddam Hussein was a threat to the US and to the world, and particularly to his own people who he was brutally suppressing. I believe that the war against Saddam was right, and that the world is safer with him gone.

Which is why I called Lieberman the only one of the nine to support the war. If I had added the word "unreservedly," I suppose that would have gotten it exactly right.

More on the Herald's unlabeled front-page ad. WBUR Radio weighed in on Friday. Click here to see the fake front. You can also listen to a commentary by Boston University journalism-department chairman Bob Zelnick.

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