Let’s recap Hillary Clinton’s tenure at State before diving into her remarks about it in her new book. It started with the mistranslated “reset button” that attempted to blame the Bush administration for tensions in US-Russian relations, and ended for all intents and purposes in the terrorist attack on our all-but-undefended consulate in Benghazi, resulting in the deaths of four Americans, including the first ambassador killed in the line of duty since the Carter administration. In between, the US gained no significant new trade agreements, turned Libya into a failed state in which al-Qaeda and its affiliates metastasized, fumbled the “Arab Spring” in Egypt, and retreated across the board.
Nevertheless, Hillary Clinton proclaims herself “proud of what we accomplished” — even if the AP report on her book excerpt notably does not include any concrete examples:
Hillary Rodham Clinton writes in new excerpts from her upcoming book that she wishes she could go back and reconsider some of her past decisions but she is “proud of what we accomplished” during her time as secretary of state.
Clinton, a potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, writes in an author’s note released Tuesday that her four years running the State Department for President Barack Obama taught her about the United States’ “exceptional strengths and what it will take for us to compete and thrive at home and abroad.”
“As is usually the case with the benefit of hindsight, I wish we could go back and revisit certain choices. But I’m proud of what we accomplished,” Clinton writes. “This century began traumatically for our country, with the terrorist attacks on 9/11, the long wars that followed, and the Great Recession. We needed to do better, and I believe we did.”
The only specific instance cited in the AP report was the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, which … was not an operation from State, but of the military coordinating with the intelligence community. Hillary uses it to laud the leadership of Barack Obama, as his top advisers were divided on whether to proceed with the mission. “It was as crisp and courageous a display of leadership as I’ve ever seen,” Hillary writes in her memoir.
That might be good news for Obama at this point, but it’s a strange time to cheer Obama for his leadership qualities. Hillary’s fellow Democrats are almost at the breaking point with Obama over his crisis management and executive qualities in general after the VA scandal failed to push Obama into action. Privately, Democrats are using words like “detached” and “incompetent” to describe Obama’s leadership, not “crisp” and “courageous.”
Under the circumstances, this attempt to cheerlead for 2009-12 seems dated, expired, and irrelevant. According to The Hill, that’s exactly how the Left feels about Hillary, too:
Liberal Democrats feel the wind is at their backs, making it all the more irksome for them that Hillary Clinton could be their presidential nominee in 2016.
For many on the left, Clinton is the woman who supported the Iraq war, ran to the right of President Obama and is associated with the Wall Street-friendly centrism espoused by her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
Progressives feel they are in a political golden age in which questions about income inequality are growing louder, anti-gay marriage laws are falling and the growing Hispanic electorate regards the GOP with skepticism. Given all that, they don’t want to be stuck with a standard-bearer they see as too centrist.
Their problem is that they have few other choices, at least at the moment. The only other figures on the Left in position to challenge Hillary are first-term Senator Elizabeth Warren, socialist Bernie Sanders, or former Montana governor Brian Schweitzer, whose pro-energy stance makes him at best problematic for the Left. The ranks of Democratic governors are similarly filled with centrists who understand that progressivism is a losing proposition in most states. The only two who might emerge would be Andrew Cuomo and Deval Patrick, but neither looks able to break out of their own progressive constituencies into anything resembling a formidable general-election nominee.
On the other hand, almost all of them (except Warren and Sanders) have actual accomplishments to offer, rather than platitudes and paeans to Obama’s already-discredited leadership. The Left may not have to try all that hard to challenge Hillary in a primary.