Great news from Hillary: The Russian reset worked

It’s obvious what she’s trying to do here but this is a weird, weird moment to do it.

When she says the reset “worked,” the use of past tense is quite deliberate.

“What I think I demonstrate in the book, is that the reset worked,” Clinton told guest host John Harwood on NPR’s “On Point” on Thursday during a conversation about her new memoir, “Hard Choices.” “It was an effort to try to obtain Russian cooperation on some key objectives while (Dmitry) Medvedev was president.”…

“When Putin announced in the fall of 2011 that he was coming back, I had no illusions,” Clinton said. “I wrote a memo to the President, in fact I wrote two memos to the President, pointing out that we were going to have to change our thinking and approach. We had gotten all we could get from the reset.”…

During the interview with Harwood, Clinton acknowledged the number of foreign policy crises around the world but appeared to distance herself from decisions the Obama administration has made since she left in 2013.

“Every administration, every party in the White House has the responsibility during the time it is there to do the best we can to lead and manage the many problems we face,” Clinton said when asked if the Obama administration is to blame for a number of issues around the world. “And I think we did in the first term.”

Five years ago, she posed like a dope with a fake “reset” button alongside Russia’s foreign minister. Five years later, we’re locked in Cold War II. Her spin doctors’ mind-bending task: Come up with an argument, somehow, that that qualifies as a “success.” The only way to do it is to argue that it was a success but that, through no fault of Hillary’s own, of course, it collapsed in a heap. Officially, she’s going to blame the failure of the reset on Putin re-assuming the presidency after four years of Medvedev, but that makes no sense. As Hillary herself concedes (“of course Putin still pulled the strings”), Putin was calling the shots as prime minister during Obama’s first term while Medvedev kept his presidential seat warm. Russian law forbids more than two consecutive terms as president — for now — so Czar Vladimir temporarily stepped aside for a catspaw. She’s drawing a lame distinction between Medvedev and Putin simply as an excuse for why her biggest initiative as Secretary of State now lies in ruins.

Unofficially, of course, she’s also drawing a tacit contrast between herself and Obama: Things with Russia were fine during his first term but once she left State, everything went to hell. If having Putin as president of Russia is the key to all this, I’m not sure why we should expect different foreign policy results from President Hillary; after all, Putin will still be czar or king or emperor two years from now. But you’re not supposed to think too hard about this. This is political reasoning at its most basic: Hillary in power (2009) = quiet Russia, Hillary out of power (2013) = aggressive Russia, Hillary in power (2017) = ________________. If she mentions the reset at all on the campaign trail, it’ll only be as a reference point from which to compare how much more menacing Putin is today, which proves we need a more hawkish Democrat like her in the White House. Bottom line, with respect to Russia, the next Democratic nominee will sound a lot more like the last Republican one than she will Obama.

Speaking of Hillary being out of power, this sure is interesting:

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who raised eyebrows earlier this year by questioning the sense of “inevitability” around Hillary Clinton’s potential presidential candidacy, emphasized Thursday that he’s worried Clinton’s inner circle will perpetuate an “off-putting” feeling of “entitlement” surrounding her possible White House bid…

Patrick wasn’t asked directly if he’d consider running for president in 2016, but, asked by a listener whether he believes a presidential candidate from “liberal Massachusetts” could ever win the presidency, Patrick rejected the premise.

“Massachusetts is not that liberal,” he said. “We have more unenrolled independents than we do registered Democrats and registered Republicans combined … We have Democrats in Massachusetts who would be Republicans anywhere else.”

“It’s not like we’re pals,” he said when asked if he’d spoken to Hillary about this at length. Patrick would be a rare serious challenger to Hillary in a primary, partly because he’s got executive experience, partly because he’s a longtime friend of Obama’s and *might* be able to bring some members of ObamaWorld on board, and partly because he could potentially consolidate the black vote like O did six years ago. That probably wouldn’t deny her the nomination, but Hillary obviously wants to keep O’s coalition intact for the general election. If she wins a nasty primary fight with Patrick but alienates some black voters in the process, she’s got turnout problems in the general. Run, Deval, run!