August 12 2014
Hillary: The Metamorphosis
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has zinged the Obama foreign policy—the policy she served for four years—in what Bret Stephens terms “a remarkable interview” with Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic.
Perhaps Mrs. Clinton’s unkindest—but far from only—cut was this:
"Great nations need organizing principles," she said, in the interview's most quotable line, "and 'Don't do stupid stuff' is not an organizing principle."
She was critical of President Obama’s refusal to help Syrian rebels—HRC wasn’t listened to!—staunchly pro-Israel, and worried about the way the Obama administration is handling its nuclear outreach to Iran.
In a piece on “The Metamorphosis of Hillary Clinton,” Brett Stephens asks:
Whatever happened to the Hillary Clinton who was an early advocate of diplomatic engagement with Iran, and who praised Bashar Assad as a "reformer" and pointedly refused to call for his ouster six months into the uprising?
Wasn't she the most vocal and enthusiastic advocate for the reset with Russia? Didn't she deliver White House messages to Benjamin Netanyahu by yelling at him? Didn't she also once describe former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak as a family friend?
And didn't she characterize her relationship with Mr. Obama—in that cloying "60 Minutes" exit interview the two of them did with Steve Kroft —as "very warm, very close"? Where's the love now?
Stephens began the column by quoting from the passage in former defense secretary Robert Gates’ memoir in which Mrs. Clinton says that the Iraq surge “worked” but that she had come out against it because she was facing anti-war candidate Barack Obama in the Democratic primary:
And if Mrs. Clinton supported the surge in private—because she thought it would help America win a war—but opposed it in public—because she needed to win a primary—shall we conclude that she is (a) despicable; (b) clever; (c) both; or (d) "what difference, at this point, does it make?"
Stephens (briefly!) entertains the notion that Mrs. Clinton has been a closet neo-con all along, as her latest statements would suggest, who gets Commentary magazine delivered to her mailbox in a brown rapper. Or is she simply reading the polls, which indicate that stabbing her old boss in the back is a good political course of action?
There's something to all of these theories: The political opportunist always lacks the courage of his, or her, convictions. That's not necessarily because there aren't any convictions. It's because the convictions are always subordinated to the needs of ambition and ingratiation.
Then again, who cares who Mrs. Clinton really is? When the question needs to be asked, it means we already know, or should know, how to answer it. The truth about Mrs. Clinton isn't what's potentially at stake in the next election. It's the truth about who we are. Are we prepared to believe anything?
We tried that with Barack Obama, the man who promised to be whatever we wanted him to be. Mrs. Clinton's self-reinvention as a hawk invites us to make the mistake twice.
If President Obama’s foreign “policy” were polling well, do you believe that she would have been as brutal in the Atlantic interview?
Discuss among yourselves.
JUST IN: Two other interesting takes out this morning on Clinton’s recent foreign policy pronouncements.
Philip Klein at the Washington Examiner explains why they don’t matter:
Hillary Clinton’s recent efforts to distance herself from President Obama’s foreign policy may be generating a lot of attention, but nothing she is now saying about foreign policy will matter in the future.
If history has taught us anything, especially when it comes to foreign policy, it’s that Clinton doesn’t have positions — she has positioning.
Meanwhile, Bryan Preston at PJ Media opines that, upon reflection, Clinton’s comments about President Obama may have been nastier than they at first appear.