Friday, March 21, 2008

Perino Defends "So?" Remark from Cheney, Claims Americans Had Input on War in '04

By Ben Armbruster, Think Progress

In an interview with Vice President Dick Cheney yesterday, ABC News’ Martha Raddatz noted that “two-thirds of Americans say” the Iraq war “is not worth fighting.” “So?” Cheney caustically replied. Referring to Cheney’s comment during today’s White House press briefing, a reporter asked Press Secretary Dana Perino: “So is the vice president saying it really doesn’t matter what the American public thinks about the war?”

“No, I don’t think that’s what he’s saying,” Perino responded. But later, she echoed Cheney, saying that the 2004 presidential election was the last time American public opinion on the war really mattered:

HELEN THOMAS: The American people are being asked to die and pay for this. And you’re saying they have no say in this war?
PERINO: No, I didn’t say that Helen. But Helen, this president was elected…
THOMAS: But it amounts to it. You’re saying we have no input at all.
PERINO: You had input. The American people have input every four years, and that’s the way our system is set up.

Like Cheney, Perino is clearly suggesting that current opposition to the Iraq war is inconsequential. But in claiming that American attitudes only matter every four years, Perino leaves out one inconvenient fact: the 2006 mid-term elections.

The 2006 elections — which the Democrats won control of both the House and Senate — were largely a referendum on the Iraq war with most Americans wanting a change in Bush’s Iraq policy. Indeed, exit polling in national House races and Senate contests in which a Democrat defeated an incumbent Republican shows that a large majority of voters cited the Iraq war as “extremely” or “very important” in their decision.

Benjamin J. Armbruster is a Research Associate for The Progress Report and at the Center for American Progress.

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