As the national media and quite a few Democrats were left breathless by Bill Clinton’s comments yesterday that he “opposed Iraq from the beginning,” the present occupant of the White House had no comment on his predecessor’s stunning remarks while campaigning for his wife in Iowa.
At least that was the word from George W. Bush’s top spokesman at today’s gaggle (early morning briefing) for reporters at the White House. When I asked whether the President and the National Security Council staff regularly brief former Presidents on national security measures, Press Secretary Dana Perino responded: “I guess so. What’s your point?”
I then cited Clinton’s remarks on the campaign trail in Iowa that “[e]ven though I approved of Afghanistan and opposed Iraq from the beginning, I still resent that I was not asked or given the opportunity to support those soldiers” — a reference to the his belief that getting a tax cut meant that his money could have spent on the military.
As to whether Clinton expressed any opposition to Iraq to President Bush or the NSC when he was briefed on it in 2002, Perino replied:” That was well before my time.” As to a reaction to Clinton’s statement, she simply said “No.” Perino did tell me, however, that “We’ll see if we can get anything for you” in terms of a response.
Clinton’s wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D.-NY), voted to authorize the Iraq War and has never voiced any regrets for her vote, although both Clintons have increasingly voiced criticism of the way the war and subsequent Iraq mission has been managed.