Hillary’s vote for the war, and her refusal to answer questions about it for months afterwards, is a classic Clinton ploy. In her Senate floor speech in ‘02, she left just enough loopholes—for instance, talking up the role of weapons inspectors—to allow herself to rewrite history years later, if it proved politically necessary to distance herself from her “yes” vote.
Her husband played the exact same game during his first presidential bid. From the fall of 1990, when then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton began wiggling out of a campaign pledge not to seek the presidency, it was clear that he would be a White House aspirant in 1992.
So, naturally, reporters were anxious to learn in January 1991 what he made of the impending Gulf War. Congress was debating whether to give the first President Bush authority to take military action, and the vote was going to be close—much closer than the ‘02 vote would be.
But Bill Clinton ducked the questions until finally, literally on the eve of the invasion, he was cornered by a reporter from a small regional paper in Arkansas.
“I guess I would have voted with the majority (for the war) if it was a close vote,” Bill Clinton said. “But I agreed with the arguments made by the minority.”
But when that war was over and judged a rousing success, he changed his tune, just like his wife has changed hers. Suddenly, Bull Clinton began boasting that he’d backed the war from the beginning—trying to score points against his Democratic rivals, who had opposed it.
It may be a different time and place now, but for the Clintons, the game is still the same.