So the biggest loser in last night's farce?
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
No one would want their organization tied to the nonsense that was Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump spewing talking points.
Matt Lauer, host of NBC's TODAY SHOW, moderated.
The Cult of Clinton's in a tizzy over one incident.
NBC says it fact checked the issue:
FACTS: The only report that found Trump speaking about the Iraq war before it happened was by Buzzfeed News, which reported that in a 2002 interview with Howard Stern, Trump was directly asked if he would support the invasion of Iraq, which didn't begin until Jan. 28, 2003. "Yeah, I guess so," Trump responded. "I wish the first time it was done correctly."
Shortly after the Iraq war began in 2003, Trump began slowly condemning the decision and told the Washington Post in March of 2003 that he thought the Iraq war was "a mess."
Use the BUZZFEED link and you're told the interview was in September of 2002 -- specifically September 11, 2002.
So a month before the Iraq War was voted on by Congress, and on the first year anniversary of 9-11, Donald Trump said, "Yeah, I guess so."
And this is support for the Iraq War -- by the same group that repeatedly ignores Al Gore's support for the Iraq War?
The first documented remarks against the war anyone can find are from March 23, 2003.
(Do not e-mail me that the byline on THE WASHINGTON POST article includes a date of March 25, 2003. I saw that. I also know the Academy Awards ceremony was March 23 that year because I was speaking out on a campus tour starting in February of that year and had to fly in day of the ceremony to attend. Trump's remarks would have been March 23, 2003.)
By the above, he did not cheerlead the Iraq War.
By the above, he may have been against it before it started on March 19, 2003.
If some want to see him as supporting the war with "Yeah, I guess," then they should also be willing to admit that within four days of the start of the war, he was against it.
In 2008, I supported Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Party primary.
I hadn't planned to take a position because I knew so many of the candidates: Joe Biden, Bill Richardson, Hillary Clinton, Grabby Hands Edwards (who was never going to get my support because you don't win me over by mauling me), etc.
I knew I couldn't support Barack Obama because earlier I had hoped to support Barack.
I was still speaking to groups against the Iraq War (as I still do today) and headed to Elaine's city. We planned a fun night of catching up. But several weeks before that day, she got invited to a local event for one of her state's own, a man who was against the Iraq War (and who was introduced back then as bi-racial, at the event).
So I told Elaine I'd gladly go and bring my checkbook and we both planned to donate the maximum amount -- because we were opposed to the Iraq War.
Then we got our face time with the candidate who wanted to be a US senator.
And Elaine told him how happy she was to support someone who would fight to end the war.
And he replied that, actually, the US was on the ground in Iraq now so it really didn't matter -- ending it.
I made sure that's what he was saying and with a "rot in hell" goodbye to him, we both walked out.
So Barack was never going to get my vote.
Hillary was offering tepid remarks about her vote being a mistake.
Those paying attention in 2006 and 2007 might have seen that as a victory considering her previous cheerleading and inability to own her mistake.
I knew Hillary and I knew how she liked to present herself.
I was willing to see the Iraq War as a stray vote.
And I could support her in 2008.
Then she became Secretary of State and she did nothing to help Iraq and -- as her e-mails proved -- even balked at the suggestion of a friend that she just make public remarks about Iraqi women at an event focusing on women around the world. See the July 9th snapshot if that's news to you -- and notice that Hillary could and did pressure Iraq on increasing oil but wouldn't do a thing to help Iraqi women.
If you make a mistake, you work to fix it.
Hillary did nothing as Secretary of State to fix Iraq.
Then there's her support for war on Libya (which was a disaster and continues to be one), her desire for war on Syria, etc, etc.
I can't support her today.
But in 2008, I could give her the benefit of the doubt.
As the record stands on Trump's claim currently, I don't see the problem.
I was booed in February and March of 2003 many times I spoke out. And I bring that up because some people love to rewrite history including some boo-ers. I would visit the same campus a year or two later and someone would come up to me and talk about how right "we" were because we had been opposed to the war back then and he (it was always a he) had been at that earlier event.
Yes, he had been. And he had booed me. Sorry, I don't crumble, I don't cry when someone boos me. I make a joke to get rid of the tension and we move on.
But I never forget the face of someone who actively booed me.
Did Trump have a mental rewrite of his support for the war?
Could also be that he's confusing private conversations.
I don't know.
At worst, Donald Trump realized the Iraq War was a mistake four days after it started.
Which puts him ahead of Hillary by several years.
The Cult of Clinton is in a fit over Matt Lauer.
The forum did not allow for a great deal nor did he fact check Hillary that hard.
(Disclosure: I hate Matt Lauer. You can't have been around this site for very long if you don't know that. If I thought Matt did a lousy job, I would call him out like crazy. I have openly -- to his face -- despised him since the 90s. I have no reason to spin for Matt. I didn't see it as a bad job, I didn't see it as a great job. I don't think he played favorites.)
During the forum -- Hillary and Donald did not appear on stage together -- Hillary insisted, "He supported it before it happened, he supported it as it was happening."
That's a lie.
Matt didn't correct her on that.
If you want to say he supported it before it happened based on the September 11, 2002 remarks, fine.
But there is nothing else that's turned up in the public record to back up that "he supported it as it was happening."
In fact, the public record rebukes that claim so Hillary's statement is a lie.
She was not challenged on that by Lauer.
Not even when she declared, of her e-mails and private server, "I have made no excuses for it. It was something that should not have been done,"
She has done nothing but make excuses.
Including the lie that she didn't want to carry two devices (she did carry more than one device).
From day one, she has lied and made excuses.
Hillary's evolving explanations on her e-mails are noted in THE WASHINGTON POST fact check.
Again, despite multiple questions, she was allowed to repeatedly alter history.
For those whining -- and some are -- that the e-mails were even raised -- hold a real press conference, quit running from the revelations.
It's on her, she's a lousy campaigner.
QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, as an Army veteran, a commander-in- chief's to empathize with servicemembers and their families is important to me. The ability to truly understand implications and consequences of your decisions, actions, or inactions. How will you determine when and where to deploy troops directly into harm's way, especially to combat ISIS?
LAUER: As briefly as you can.
CLINTON: We have to defeat ISIS. That is my highest counterterrorism goal. And we've got to do it with air power. We've got to do it with much more support for the Arabs and the Kurds who will fight on the ground against ISIS. We have to squeeze them by continuing to support the Iraqi military. They've taken back Ramadi, Fallujah. They've got to hold them. They've got to now get into Mosul.
We're going to work to make sure that they have the support -- they have special forces, as you know, they have enablers, they have surveillance, intelligence, reconnaissance help.
They are not going to get ground troops. We are not putting ground troops into Iraq ever again. And we're not putting ground troops into Syria. We're going to defeat ISIS without committing American ground troops. So those are the kinds of decisions we have to make on a case-by-case basis.
And, remember, when I became secretary of state, we had 200,000 troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. And I'm very grateful that we have brought home the vast majority of those. We have a residual force, as you know, in Afghanistan. We have built up several thousands of the folks that I've talked about who are assisting in the fight against ISIS.
But it is in our national security interest to defeat ISIS. And I intend to make that happen.
They are not going to get ground troops?
They have thousands of US troops -- and that's before you factor in Special Ops.
And she knows that.
And she lies.
Here's NPR's fact check on her no ground troops claim:
Is that a promise she could keep as president?
The Short Answer
The Long Answer
Clinton has outlined a policy on ISIS that would pick up where President Obama's policy left off. Today, there are about 5,000 American troops in Iraq and several hundred deployed to northern Syria. They include special operations forces who are helping the Kurdish, Arab and other indigenous fighters, plus advisers, support troops and others. The White House doesn't count them as "ground troops," and evidently neither does Clinton, but they are serving close to the combat zone.
U.S. service members have been killed as part of the fight against ISIS both on the ground and as part of the ongoing U.S. airstrikes. They've also found themselves in potential peril from airstrikes by Syrian and Russian warplanes, which are operating in Syria in support of the regime of President Bashar Assad. The Pentagon issued a stern warning to Damascus and Moscow to keep their aircraft well clear of where American troops in Syria are working on the ground to support indigenous forces in the fight against ISIS. American fighter aircraft have also tried to warn off Syrian and Russian warplanes.
Clinton's promise about "ground troops" appeared to echo Obama's opposition to using large numbers of American forces to get into direct combat with ISIS. So although American special operations troops are helping Iraqi commanders plan their operations, and American pilots are flying overhead to spot targets or attack them, and American artillery is shelling ISIS positions, none of them count as "ground troops" under this construction.
The U.S. has spent about $9 billion on the fight in Iraq and Syria since August of 2014, according to the Defense Department. American warplanes, both drone and human-piloted, have conducted about 15,000 airstrikes in both countries.
Clinton said Wednesday at the forum, held in New York and televised on NBC, that defeating ISIS was her "highest counterterrorism goal," and that she wanted to do it with "air power" and "with much more support for the Arabs and Kurds who are in the fight ... we have to squeeze them." Clinton also promised that if she's elected she'll order what she called "an intelligence surge," which she said would involve helping U.S. intelligence agencies collect more information and distribute it "more quickly down the ladder" to state and local law enforcement agencies, in hopes of preventing terror attacks.
And nothing she spoke of goes to the issue of eliminating the Islamic State.
You do that by stripping them of anything they have that can make them look like a savior.
So you make demands on the Iraqi government to stop persecuting the Sunnis.
You make them abide by what they have agreed to.
You make them carry that out.
You withhold money if they won't do it, you stop sending F-16s if they won't do it, on and on and on.
Hillary, despite being Secretary of State for four years, has only one answer: War!
Diplomacy is what she forgot -- repeatedly.
Maybe that's why she underwhelmed Peter Beinart (DAILY BEAST)? He notes:
She’s running against Donald Trump. On substance, Trump was, as you might expect, absurd. (Fun fact: The only foreign-policy positions detailed on his website are veterans affairs and trade with China.) But in crass political terms, Trump did well. He did well because he capitalized on the public’s sour mood: He said the war in Iraq was a disaster, the withdrawal from Iraq was a disaster, the war in Libya was a disaster, and the management of the Department of Veterans Affairs is a disaster. And he blamed Clinton because she was part of those decisions and he was not.
[. . .]
Clinton, on the other hand, offered no vision at all. She was at her best discussing the processes of government. She explained, for instance, that when people leave the military, the Department of Defense often doesn’t transmit their records to the VA.
The one area he felt she was strong in, she wasn't.
What "she explained" is nothing new.
Since 2006, this has been an issue in Congressional hearings. (Check the archives, we reported on many of those hearings here.)
This is why Barack was able to campaign the first time for president on the "seamless transition," the electronic record.
It would follow you from DoD to VA.
If Hillary's saying that's needed, it is.
If she wants to find fault for it not existing, that's Barack.
You could blame Eric Shinseki who lied repeatedly about the issue.
At one point, he lied and blamed then-incoming DoD Secretary Chuck Hagel who just wasn't having it and that resulted in a meet-up in the Oval Office.
But even that didn't get the ball rolling.
This shouldn't take 8 years to implement.
But no one -- including Barack -- wanted to pay attention.
It's one of the big domestic failures of his administration.
The following community sites -- plus Cindy Sheehan -- updated: