Until now, Hillary Clinton has remained mighty quiet on Syria. As Secretary of State, she described Bashar al-Assad as a “reformer,” but now her successor has begun comparing Assad to Adolf Hitler. That silence will apparently end today, if Politico’s sources within Hillary’s camp are accurate:
Hillary Clinton will make her first public remarks about Syria on Monday when she makes a visit to the White House for an unrelated event, a Clinton aide told POLITICO.
The comments, the first since an unidentified aide said last week that the former Secretary of State supports President Obama in going before Congress to get support for a limited strike against Syria, will come after she meets privately with Obama at the White House, the aide said.
She will then appear at an event related to wildlife preservation at the White House, an event where her daughter, Chelsea, is part of the program. Clinton is expected to address Syria at the beginning of the event, in fairly brief remarks, the aide said.
She’s expected to make longer remarks generally, but to stick with her Monday comments on Syria, the following evening, when she gives a speech at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, where former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will be honoring her.
Her speech, however, is not expected to be a dissertation on Syria. Nor will it be so about the NSA, which had been expected to be the original topic. The speech is likely to be a mixture of themes.
This looks like such a loser that it’s amazing to see Hillary making any statement at all — on Syria or the NSA. If she’s speaking from the White House, that means Hillary will come down all in on the side of American intervention, which is deeply unpopular across all political aggregations. That will raise a lot of questions about Hillary’s own stewardship of American diplomacy during the “Assad the Reformer” period in which the US refused to demand Assad’s resignation for months while he conducted military attacks on demonstrators — after demanding Hosni Mubarak’s after just eight days of mostly peaceful protests in Tahrir Square.
The calculus must be that by openly declaring support for Obama’s position, she will be demonstrating leadership and pushing Capitol Hill to back intervention. However, leadership on starting another war hardly helps the Democratic brand. Having the Clintons behind the plan may make it even more difficult to get Republicans on board, especially in the House, where Obama has his biggest obstacle. For Hillary, it saddles her with all of the baggage of being attached to the biggest cowboy unilateralist evah with no upside for winning the strategy, but all of the downside when it turns out like Libya, or worse.
Speaking of Libya, this public stand comes on the anniversary of Benghazi, a topic that Hillary has successfully avoided since leaving Foggy Bottom. How smart for Hillary to jump in now — and how smart is it for the White House to invite those comparisons, which even ABC isn’t hesitating to make, implicitly at least?