- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 22, 2007

Who’s the only Democrat in the Senate today who voted to authorize the use of force against Iraq in 1991 and again in 2002? No, not Joe Lieberman. He, too, twice voted “aye,” but he’s no longer a Democrat, but an independent. The answer is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who’s leading the Democratic charge to enact a 2007 emergency supplemental law that would require the military to stand down in Iraq by March 2008.

It seemed more than coincidental that Al Gore returned on Wednesday to Capitol Hill to testify before his former colleagues (some of them) in both chambers. In 1991, Messrs. Gore, Lieberman, Reid and only seven other Democratic senators (out of 56) joined 42 Republicans (out of 44) to pass the use-of-force authorization by a bare 52 to 47. That Senate vote, lest we forget, earned Mr. Gore his place on the Clinton ticket in 1992. Other Democratic senators who considered themselves to be presidential timber took note. In fact, 29 of 50 Democrats supported the 2002 resolution, which passed 77 to 23.

After voting “no” in 1991, Sens. Chris Dodd and Joe Biden, both said to be running for president, and John Kerry voted “aye” in October 2002. Sen. Tom Daschle of North Dakota, who briefly flirted with a 2008 presidential bid, voted against the 1991 authorization and reversed himself to support the 2002 resolution when he was the leader of the Democratic majority in the Senate. Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Edwards, both freshmen in 2002, also voted “aye.” So did Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, who considered running next year. They’re all racing each other to see who can run the fastest and farthest from those votes for the war in 2002.

Iowa’s Tom Harkin, the favorite-son candidate who won his state’s 1992 caucuses before his presidential campaign collapsed, opposed the 1991 authorization. He supported the 2002 use-of-force resolution. Curiously, Mr. Harkin’s fellow senator from Iowa — the Republican Charles Grassley — voted the same way. Mr. Grassley was one of two Republicans who opposed the use of force in 1991. (Mark Hatfield of Oregon was the other.) Mr. Grassley then supported force in 2002. Sen. Bob Graham, then the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee who briefly sought the nomination in 2004, voted against the 2002 use-of-force authorization after voting to authorize in 1991.

From his party’s perspective, Mr. Gore is the lone Democrat who voted the “right” way both times — saying “aye” as a senator in 1991 (and then giving Mr. Clinton cover in 1992) and by opposing the war as a private citizen in 2002 and 2003. But he’s one of the few Democratic senators who isn’t a candidate in 2008.

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