Kerry says he voted to give the president authority,
rather than "voting for the war," and that President Bush
made a mistake when he took us to war
The little snippet they give you here sounds unclear, because he
says he disagrees with "the way he [Bush] went to war,"
which might make you think he approves of the war but just disagrees
on how many tanks or helicopters were used. The GOP video cuts out
the part where he was very clear and focuses on the part where
he insists that he's already answered the question (because he has).
In the part the video doesn't show you, Kerry says clearly that
he is against the war because the way Bush took us to war was a
mistake. In other words, Kerry is against the fact that we went
to war almost single handedly and that it was not done as a last
resort. He would not have been against any military
action, if it was required, but he thinks Bush made a mistake by
taking us to war the way he did.
After the point where the GOP clip ends, John Edwards cuts in and
explains that if Kerry had been president and given the same authority
as George Bush, we would have kept the inspections going and found
out there were no WMDs, and so we would not be at war. Kerry nods
in agreement. His position is perfectly clear, though the interviewer
seems confused as to why Kerry would still vote to affirm the president's
authority if he didn't want to go to war.
STAHL: The war in Iraq. Senator Kerry, are you for it or against
KERRY: I think the president made a mistake in the way he took
us to war.
STAHL: Was the war wrong?
KERRY: I am against the war. The way the president went to war
STAHL: The senate intelligence committee has just issued a report
saying that the basis for the war was erroneous, that there weren't
weapons of mass destruction.
The GOP video clip begins here:
STAHL: You voted for this war. Was that vote, given what you
know now, a mistake?
KERRY: What I voted for — Lesley, you see, you're playing
here. What I voted for was an authority for the president to go
to war as a last resort if Saddam Hussein did not disarm and we
needed to go to war.
STAHL: But I'm trying to find out if you today, now that you
know about that report, think the war was a mistake? And I ...
KERRY: I think I answered your question. I think the way he went
to war was a mistake.
EDWARDS: And I know you want to make this black and white, but
the difference is... I'm going to finish this. The difference
is, if John Kerry were president of the United States, we would
never be in this place. He would never have done what George Bush
did. He would have done the hard work to build the alliances and
the support system. We would have known... let me finish.
STAHL: Why build an alliance if they didn't have weapons of
EDWARDS: We would have found out. That's the point.
STAHL: So why won't you say they didn't have it? It was a mistake?
KERRY: I don't see the distinction. I think I said...
STAHL: Well, Senator Rockefeller on the committee, the vice
chairman said, now that we know what we know, he regrets his vote.
KERRY: Well, I don't regret my vote. I believe, based on the
information we have, it... we have... it's the correct vote.
STAHL: You just recently said, if you get elected, no young
Americans will go to war needlessly.
EDWARDS: That's true.
STAHL: That's a direct quote from you.
EDWARDS: Yes, ma'am.
STAHL: It implies that president bush sent young men and women
to war needlessly.
EDWARDS: Because he didn't do the things that should have been
done before taking this country to war. This is not A... I mean,
we've now said it ten times. This is not a complicated thing.
[CBS’ "60 Minutes," July 11, 2004]
We have left attached the clip which comes next in the GOP video,
a snippet from CBS Evening News 7/21/04 in which Dan Rather repeats
the familiar distortion that Kerry voted "for the war"
and "against funding it," and Kerry says that that is
not a flip-flop. By now it should be clear that Kerry is right.