- By John HudsonJohn Hudson is a senior reporter at Foreign Policy, where he covers diplomacy and national security issues in Washington. He has reported from several geopolitical hotspots, including Ukraine, Pakistan, Malaysia, China, and Georgia. Prior to joining FP, John covered politics and global affairs for the Atlantic magazine’s news blog, the Atlantic Wire. In 2008, he covered the August war between Russia and Georgia from Tbilisi and the breakaway region of Abkhazia. He has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, BBC, C-SPAN, Fox News radio, Al Jazeera, and other broadcast outlets. He has been with the magazine since 2013.
This morning, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough correctly pointed out that many Democrats supported the Iraq war before turning against it. But in his lineup of Democratic flip-floppers, which showcased Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, he also included Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan and Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco — two lawmakers who expressly voted against the Iraq War Resolution in 2002.
"The very same people who spent years beating up George Bush were the very ones beating the drum for Iraq’s regime change and Saddam’s ouster," says Scarborough, as Pelosi and Levin’s faces appeared on the camera. The video then singles out four lawmakers — Pelosi, Clinton, Levin and Kerry — in a montage of their public statements before and after the war.
The clip has been passed around favorably on Twitter and picked up by National Review‘s Andrew Johnson, who called it a "look back at the war’s most vocal critics who were once its most ardent supporters, including John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi, and Carl Levin." In reality, that view is much more difficult to support when applied to Pelosi and Levin.
To rewind the clock, the clip featuring Pelosi includes her applauding George W. Bush for "focusing on this issue [nuclear proliferation]." However, if you read her full statement, she adds this a few seconds later: "I say flat out that unilateral use of force without first exhausting every diplomatic remedy and other remedies and making a case to the American people will be harmful to our war on terrorism."
Levin was an even stronger opponent of the war, telling Meet the Press in 2002 that Saddam Hussein wouldn’t likely use WMD. "He would not, in my judgment, initiate an attack with a weapon of mass destruction, because it would lead to his own destruction…. He’s a survivalist. He is not a suicide bomber," he said. It’s unclear why other Democratic targets such as Harry Reid weren’t chosen for the video, but that’s for Scarborough to explain. The segment ends with a popular adage reformulated by Scarborough:
Victory has a hundred fathers, but defeat is an orphan. And on the day that President Bush strode around the USS Abraham Lincon in his flight suit to declare victory, Republicans and Democrats alike were lining up with papers to prove their paternity. How short our memory is.