Hillary Clinton keeps a pretty low profile these days, even as the press breathlessly presses Republican presidential contender on such weighty policy areas as, er, evolution and college student-body election records. The former Secretary of State has yet to comment, much less be questioned by the media, on a variety of events around the world in which her policies and leadership during Barack Obama’s first term might have had some impact. She hasn’t made herself available for comment, though, and the Wall Street Journal reports she’s too busy — trying to brush up on foreign policy:
Voters aren’t seeing much of Hillary Clinton these days, leading some Democrats to wonder when their front-runner will enter the 2016 contest. Behind the scenes, she is prepping carefully for the race of her life.
Private meetings that she’s held with various foreign-policy experts offer some hints as to how she might part ways with President Barack Obama when it comes to crises in Ukraine, Syria and other global trouble spots. The major takeaway from these private talks is that she wants a strategy more suited to shaping conditions overseas, as opposed to reacting to events as they arise, people familiar with the meetings said.
In these meetings, Mrs. Clinton’s habit is to go a round the room, asking questions and taking notes with pad and pen in hand. She has been looking for an analysis of current conditions and possible solutions – but also a more proactive posture, some familiar with the meetings say.
The point of this exercise is to run away from the foreign policy Hillary crafted and implemented:
As Secretary of State during Mr. Obama’s first term, Mrs. Clinton played the role of loyal adviser in a foreign-policy apparatus that was run out of the White House; Mr. Obama was the one making the decisions.
It seems clear that if Mrs. Clinton wins the White House she would chart a different path than the one charted during the Obama administration.
Good luck with that sales pitch. This argument has two big, huge flaws in it for Hillary, both of which strike at the very heart of her narrative as a candidate. First, Hillary’s allies have touted her foreign-policy acumen as a key credential for her presidential run. In fact, she has nearly nothing else on which to run. Her Senate years are bereft of accomplishment, and she has no other executive experience other than at State. In order for that to work, Hillary has to embrace her legacy rather than run away from it, and yet the same people who will argue that the nation needs an experienced hand in national security and diplomacy are about to describe her as a water carrier for Barack Obama.
That’s also the second problem with the approach. She’s running as an empowered woman who can bring significant leadership qualities on the basis of her gender, at least in part. (Remember #GrandmothersKnowBest?) A claim that Hillary had little or no control over foreign policy during her four years as Secretary of State makes her look not loyal but subservient and remarkably unempowered for someone who wants to run for President. In essence, this message will be that Hillary spent 30 years in the shadow of Bill Clinton and then another four in Obama’s. If that’s the case, shouldn’t Hillary run something on her own for a while before asking voters to trust her with the top job? Carly Fiorina managed to do that much at Hewlett-Packard, and probably accomplished more in international relations than Hillary did in a similar period of time.
The root of all these problems is the denial of reality that Team Hillary has to promote. Foreign policy under Obama and Hillary has been an utter disaster, especially in the Middle East after Hillary’s war in Libya, and in Russia after Hillary’s “reset button” embarrassment. She can assemble all the experts in the world to advise her on what to do next, but if the election hinges on a change in national-security policy — and it might — then Hillary’s already lost it.
Speaking of questions for candidates, Kyle Wingfield of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says it’s a demonstration of media bias in action:
That said, there are a few perennial stories that are indicative of, at minimum, journalists refusing to acknowledge their blind spots. And one of them — Republican gets asked about some science-y topic! LOLs ensue! — is in the headlines right now.
I refer of course to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s recent refusal, during a think tank Q&A while on a state trade mission to London, to take the bait on that staple of GOP interviews: Do you believe in evolution? He declined to answer, and suddenly this is a story, even though the questioner basically admitted it’s a GOP set-up; he said it’s “almost a tradition now to ask (it of) visiting, particularly Republican, senior Republicans who come to London.”
It’s a ridiculous question to ask, for many reasons. It’s ridiculous because the United States president — the office Walker is widely expected to seek next year — does practically nothing that has to do with anything regarding evolution. In fact, that’s more or less what Walker said: “That’s a question a politician shouldn’t be involved in one way or the other,” he said, “so I’m going to leave that up to you.” Liberals who usually slam politicians for mixing religion and politics are instead slamming Walker for essentially refusing to mix religion and politics. Walker’s staff later clarified that the governor thinks “faith and science are compatible,” an answer that he should have had at the ready in London, but which is unlikely to satisfy many of his critics.
It’s also a ridiculous question because Democrats never get asked any science-related questions that put them in a similarly uncomfortable position. As David Harsanyi points out at The Federalist, if politicians are going to be asked about evolution, why not ask them whether a 20-week-old unborn child is a human being?
Or, as I suggested on Twitter, ask Hillary Clinton to explain the science of when human life begins. After all, shouldn’t we test the notion that #GrandmothersKnowBest, especially on the subject that makes them grandmothers? I’d like to know when she began thinking of herself as a grandmother. Perhaps some of these enterprising sciency reporters might bother to ask.