Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton yesterday called it “so sad” that she is being criticized as un-American for questioning Bush administration war policies while visiting troops in Iraq over the Thanksgiving holiday.
“I think that’s reflective of the efforts by this administration to deny and divert attention from what everybody knows. I mean, it is like the old children’s story, ‘The Emperor Has No Clothes,’” Mrs. Clinton said.
The New York Democrat appeared on Sunday television talk shows and in wide-ranging interviews called the Bush administration “radical” and “extreme,” and accused the president of linking presidential politics to the Iraq war timetable.
She insisted again that she’s not running for president in 2004: “No, no,” Mrs. Clinton told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I have said no. I’ve said no, no, no, no.”
On CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Mrs. Clinton accused Andrew H. Card Jr., White House chief of staff, of painting a “rosy scenario” of the ongoing war.
Mr. Card defended the administration’s policies and said that Iraq “is in much better shape today than it was before the war.”
“The one thing that is sure is that the Iraqi people are better off without Saddam Hussein,” Mr. Card told CNN’s “Late Edition.” “There is hope and opportunity.”
“I disagree with Hillary Clinton about a lot of things,” Mr. Card said. “The one thing I do agree with her is that we’ve got tremendous men and women wearing the uniform of the United States fighting to beat back terrorists and to secure the hopes and dreams of the Iraqi people. And I was pleased that she went to Iraq to pay tribute to our troops, and the president paid tribute to the troops, and that’s appropriate.”
Mrs. Clinton told troops she visited overseas “there are many questions at home about the administration’s policies” but that “Americans are wholeheartedly proud of what you are doing.”
Mrs. Clinton said she did not undercut morale by criticizing the commander in chief to U.S. soldiers in Iraq. “It is fully appropriate, in talking with our soldiers, to have that kind of conversation with them,” Mrs. Clinton said.
The issue, she said, has been overblown and “largely fueled by a lot of the talk shows and the other sort of right-wing apparatus.” Mrs. Clinton said she regrets using the word “conspiracy” in describing the right wing, saying there is nothing secret about it.
“There’s a tremendous infrastructure that supports these quite radical ideas and the administration is peopled with officials who are working to implement them,” Mrs. Clinton said.
Republicans are “taking aim at the New Deal” and have “a mission in mind to radically restructure the social safety net, the kind of consumer and worker protections that have been at the base of building the American middle class,” she said.
Asked on ABC’s “This Week” program why Democrats are siding with Republicans on several issues if the policies are so radical and extreme, Mrs. Clinton declined to answer except that she voted for the Iraq resolution. Mrs. Clinton said she does not regret that vote “but I regret the way the president has used the authority.”
Asked whether the administration’s policies or “dumb luck” was to thank for zero terrorist attacks in the United States since September 11, Mrs. Clinton replied: both.
“We have made some real progress when it comes to homeland security, but we haven’t done nearly enough, according to any expert, any nonpartisan, independent observer who has looked at what we’ve done since September 11. Have we made ourselves safer? Yes, we have; we’ve done some good work that needed to be done,” Mrs. Clinton said.