Of all of the questions Hillary Clinton will evade on the campaign trail this week, none are more important than those she will not answer on Iraq. Clinton holds the unique distinction in the 2016 field of having supported the unpopular Iraq policies of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
She supported Bush’s invasion and Obama’s withdrawal, and in both cases was tracking with public opinion when she started. After Bush’s war got unpopular, Clinton recanted. And one supposes that as Obama’s policy for that woe-begotten nation and its region continues to displease voters, Clinton will be tempted to recant her support for the Obama doctrine too. The fall of Ramadi to Islamist militants will no doubt hasten Clinton’s consideration of a political exit strategy.
Clinton might be expected to lay out her vision for the future. After all, she argued for an earlier intervention against the Syrian dictator Obama is now helping to stay in power. There’s some inventory to move here. We have learned in detail the thoughts of Bush’s younger brother, Jeb, on the war, as well as what other Republicans think about what the Bushes think and so on. But as for Clinton we do not know even the slightest inkling of her current thinking.
The WaPo points out today that Clinton’s NASCAR-length series of left turns is designed to reconstruct the winning Obama coalition. But missing is the most important ingredient in Obama’s original recipe: foreign policy. Obama beat her with his opposition to the Iraq war, so she certainly knows it. But Clinton also knows that all of her potential general election foes will be ready to rip into the Obama record on foreign affairs and national security.
When Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wisc., goes after Clinton, for instance, it’s not on domestic issues but on foreign policy. Walker told CBS News on Sunday that every region that Clinton focused on “is largely a failure, a mess.” His critique foreshadows the attacks that will come from the Republican nominee regardless of who survives the 2016 GOP Thunderdome.
But Clinton can’t jump too hard away from Obama since the base voters she is working so hard to woo with her domestic policy reversals believe the current president has been, if anything, too bellicose – he of the flying killer robots, domestic spying and desk-drawer kill lists.
Will the domestic sprint leftward give Clinton the chance to duck on foreign policy long enough to lock up her nomination and then reinvent herself as a McCain-style interventionist in the general election? That depends on how long she can stonewall the press.
“She has to do it quickly and she has to get into the rhythm of a campaign where she’s out there, she’s answering questions, she’s making speeches. It would be a terrible mistake to not do that.” – Top Obama strategist David Axelrod to NBC News on Clinton’s press avoidance strategy.
It’s not like Elizabeth Warren is getting ready to launch a campaign, but she showed in clear relief last week how she generates passion among Democratic activists. Liberals, including one Senate colleague, accused the president of sexism for his attack on her as “a politician like everybody else.” Whatever arrangement Warren has made with Hillary Clinton about 2016 and policies and personnel in another Clinton administration is only as durable as the two politicians’ relative standings. Warren’s totemic status for the left of her party and, evidently, unassailable positions shows how difficult she could yet make life for Clinton.
[by Chris Stirewalt, writing for FOX NEWS FIRST]
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