Clinton: Lieberman isn't like the rest of us

The former president seeks distance for himself -- and for his wife -- on the road to war.

Published August 15, 2006 4:45PM (EDT)

Hoping to pave the way for his wife's presidential run, Bill Clinton has been urging Democrats to look past the way in which Democratic senators voted on the 2002 resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq.

In a meeting with Democratic donors in May, Clinton reportedly bristled when somebody asked him why more Democratic senators haven't apologized for voting to authorize George W. Bush to go to war. Democrats should look forward, not back, Clinton said then. The former president sounded a similar theme while campaigning for Joe Lieberman last month: Dismissing the war in Iraq as a "pink elephant," Clinton said that "whether you were for it or against it," the "real issue" now is what to do about the problem Bush has created.

That dog didn't hunt in Connecticut, or at least not well enough to help Clinton's favored candidate fend off a challenge from Ned Lamont. Now Clinton seems to be trotting out a new one. In an interview with ABC's Jake Tapper this morning, Clinton tried to separate himself -- and, by extension, his wife -- from Lieberman by focusing not on how Lieberman views the war today, but rather on Lieberman's motivation for voting to authorize the use of force back in 2002.

Asked about the claim that Lamont's victory represents a purging of moderates from the Democratic Party, Clinton said: "Well, if I were Joe and I were running as an independent, that's what I'd say, too. But that's not quite right. That is, there were almost no Democrats who agreed with his position, which was 'I want to attack Iraq whether or not they have weapons of mass destruction.' And his position was the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld position, which was, 'Does it matter if they have weapons? None of this matters  This is a big, important priority, and 9/11 gives us the way of attacking and deposing Saddam.'"

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

MORE FROM Tim Grieve

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

2006 Elections Bill Clinton Iraq Joe Lieberman Middle East War Room