Hillary Clinton Says She Wouldn’t Have Voted For Iraq War

Hillary Clinton told the “Today” show that she wouldn’t have voted for the war in Iraq if only she knew then what she knows now.

Clinton has often been asked if she regrets her vote authorizing military action and she usually answers that question with an artful dodge, saying that she accepts responsibility for the vote and suggesting that if the Senate had all the information it has today (no WMD, troubled post-war military planning, etc. . .), there would never have been a vote on the Senate floor. However, she has never gone as far as some of her potential rivals for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination — who also voted for the war — and called her vote a mistake or declared that she would have cast her vote differently with all the facts presently available to her — until now. This morning on NBC’s “Today” show, Sen. Clinton was asked about her 2002 vote and offered a slightly evolved answer. “Obviously, if we knew then what we know now, there wouldn’t have been a vote,” she said in her usual refrain before adding, “and I certainly wouldn’t have voted that way.”

How, exactly, is that different from what she has been saying? And, given that we didn’t know then what we know now (although many speculated about a postwar catastrophe) this “admission” hardly absolves her of responsibility. It’s akin to saying that you wouldn’t have bet on the Cubs to win the World Series if you’d known they wouldn’t.

FILED UNDER: 2008 Election, Blogosphere, Iraq War, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    If Ms. Clinton decides to retire from the Senate (or when she leaves the presidency if that should happen), she can always teach a course at a prestigious university in the Dept. of Having Your Cake And Eating It, Too.

  2. So, Hillary has adopted JOhn Kerry’s winning strategy of voting for it before she was against it. Such a blatant, explicit reliance on hindsight and it is treated as news. Jeez.

  3. Mark says:

    You don’t run for President based on the votes you would have cast, you run for president based on the votes you did cast.

  4. Bandit says:

    I would have bet on the Cardinals in the WS if I knew what I do now.

  5. LJD says:

    It appears Clinton and Kerry are sharing a brain… Now if only we could run a country based on ‘If we knew then what we know now…’

  6. Anderson says:

    Hillary’s statement would indeed be unremarkable … if Cheney and others weren’t on the record saying that, if they’d known etc., they *still* would’ve invaded Iraq.

  7. Bithead says:

    As I said at my place, this morning:

    Denying that her vote then was the right thing to do, aside from that denial being the wrong thing morally to do.. (What hold do morals have on this woman, after all?) … is not exactly political cover, except for those alone among the far left. I grant you, that the far left is the first hurdle she’s got to go over given the primary structure. But it does strike me that she’s going to have a larger hurdle to get over with the general election , at which point she’s going to have to backtrack on her placating the far left.

    At this stage of the game, were this anyone else, I would be asking questions like “why doesn’t she just tell the truth?”. The problem is, I don’t think she knows what that is. Or, cares, for that matter.

  8. Al says:

    I agree. I knew enough to be against the war before it started, and Hilary’s supposed to be smarter than me.

    That said, it’s important to acknowledge that everyone was fed incorrect information about Iraq. It’s valid to say, “I was misled, and if I hadn’t been I would have voted differently.” To return to the baseball analogy, what if you’d been told that the Cubs had signed Pujols and Santana? Well, I still would’ve bet against them, ’cause…jeez, it’s the Cubs. But at least those hopeful few would have had half an argument.

  9. legion says:

    Right on! The whole for it before I was against it’ meme is a pile of crap – a lot of people trusted Bush & took his warnings at face value. There were _no_ WMDs, and that fact was known (and concealed) by the administration at the time. Iraq was _not_ a threat to anyone outside the ME. Hussein was _not_ in league with Bin Laden. The invasion has _not_ decreased terrorism, made the US safer, protected US interests overseas, cost less than a couple billion $$, spread democracy, etc., etc. Oh yeah, and we’ve let Afghanistan slide back into the hands of the Taliban & AQ – the people who _actually attacked us_.

    I’m hardly a Hillary booster, but has there been _anything_ about invading Iraq the Bush & his enablers said that has proven correct and/or true?

  10. anjin-san says:

    Sorry Hillary, you can’t have it both ways.

  11. McGehee says:

    There were no WMDs, and that fact was known (and concealed) by the administration at the time.


  12. And if Hillary knew then what she knows now, would she have more strongly encouraged Bill to take Osama bin Laden into custody when he had the chance. I mean, if you want to play the hindsight game, you have to play it fair no matter how the chips may fall.

  13. legion says:

    The British seem to see it a little differently…

    In the testimony revealed today Mr Ross, 40, who helped negotiate several UN security resolutions on Iraq, makes it clear that Mr Blair must have known Saddam Hussein possessed no weapons of mass destruction. He said that during his posting to the UN, “at no time did HMG [Her Majesty’s Government] assess that Iraq’s WMD (or any other capability) posed a threat to the UK or its interests.”

    If you really want to call the degraded, decade-plus-old mustard gas cannisters left over from before Desert Storm ‘WMDs’, I suppose you could try to argue that point, but it’d be rough since about the only threat they posed was if someone tripped over them…