POLITICS

Daschle Calls Rove's Iraq War Accusation "A Joke"

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle today called Karl Rove's accusation that Congress rushed President Bush into the Iraq war, "a joke."

During an appearance on the Bill Press Show, Daschle mocked the idea that it was he, not the Bush administration, who deliberately accelerated the time frame for Congress to vote on the Iraq war resolution in the fall of 2002.

"Well, I was called last week a couple of times and I literally thought it was a joke," he said. "I thought somebody was trying to pull my leg. I can't believe that anybody would make such an outrageous statement. And I was interested in [the fact] that several of the former Bush high-level people have now disputed it as well... But, he's saying it and I guess he's trying to sell some books."

Daschle told Press that Congress in fact tried to stall the rush to war. But the President dismissed pleas for caution.

"I reminded the President that his father waited until after the election for the 1991 war," Daschle recounted. "It was a wise thing to do and allowed him to build consensus around the world and de-politicize it here at home. I turned to him and said that he ought to do the same thing. I wish you'd consider that. He looked at the Vice President... They smirked a little bit and then looked at me and said... 'Can't do that.'"

Daschle is just one of a litany of figures - both Democrat and Republican - who have publicly rebuked the former White House strategist.

During an interview last week with Charlie Rose, Rove argued that Congress rushed the Iraq War resolution before the elections in fall of 2002 despite the President's concern that the vote would be politicized. Since then, several congressional Democrats as well as former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer and former White House chief of staff, Andrew Card, have criticized the man known as Bush's brain.

"Karl is very smart," said Card. "He's -- sometimes his brain gets ahead of his mouth. And sometimes his mouth gets ahead of his brain."

And indeed, there is a preponderance of evidence to suggest that Rove is attempting to revise history. In a September 24, 2002, address from the White House (subsequently titled "President Urges Congress to Pass Iraq Resolution Promptly"), the President began:

Thanks for coming. We just had a very productive Cabinet meeting. We realize there's little time left in -- before the Senate and the House goes home, but we're optimistic a lot can get done before now and then. Congress must act now to pass a resolution, which will hold Saddam Hussein to account for a decade of defiance.