Hillary: I'd like to offer a reset button on Israel, or something

The first time Hillary Clinton offered someone a reset button, it was to a geopolitical opponent that the Obama-Clinton State Department thought was a friend. The next time, Hillary promises, the offer will go to a friend that the Obama administration has treated like a foe. Hillary told a group of Jewish leaders yesterday that she wants to put the US-Israeli relationship back on “constructive footing,” the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman reports:

Mrs. Clinton’s comments, made in a phone call to Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, contrasted in tone from recent remarks by members of the Obama administration, who have publicly criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel amid tensions over a nuclear deal with Iran and comments Mr. Netanyahu made in the final days of his re-election campaign this month.

“Secretary Clinton thinks we need to all work together to return the special U.S.-Israel relationship to constructive footing, to get back to basic shared concerns and interests, including a two-state solution pursued through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians,” Mr. Hoenlein said in a statement issued by his organization on Sunday evening. “We must ensure that Israel never becomes a partisan issue,” he quoted her as saying. Mrs. Clinton knows Mr. Hoenlein from her time in the Senate. …

Mrs. Clinton’s comments are her first on the United States- Israeli relationship to be made public since Mr. Netanyahu’s re-election on March 17, when the strains between the two countries reached their height in the days surrounding the election.

At least this would be an improvement, but then again, it’s difficult to see how the next administration could possibly be worse on Israel. In fact, by the time a President Hillary Clinton took office, it might be a moot point, because the pending deal with Iran would leave Tehran plenty of time to successfully develop a nuclear weapon. They already have a missile platform capable of delivering one to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv (and Riyadh, for that matter), so there’s at least a slim chance that there would be no one on the Israeli side to accept the next reset button by January 2017.

Politically, though, this is another attempt by Hillary Clinton to distance herself from the administration whose foreign policy was set by herself. The problems with Israel didn’t start in February 2013, nor did the endless appeasement to Iran in search of a rapprochement. The failure of the Obama administration to encourage the Iranian democracy activists of the Green Revolution took place in Hillary’s first year at State, when a change in power might have mooted the nuclear issue in an entirely different manner.

Still, this formulation at least implicitly lays the blame for the bad relations on Obama — exactly as the original “reset button” laid blame more explicitly on George W. Bush for US-Russian chilliness. After all, nothing has changed on the Israeli side since Hillary’s departure from State, except that Benjamin Netanyahu just got a stronger mandate for his leadership, especially when it comes to hard-line positions on the Palestinian question. If the need to “return” the relationship to “constructive footing” exists, it exists on the US side. And unlike the Russian reset, this reset need doesn’t follow the invasion of another sovereign nation (Georgia) just a few months earlier by the US’ supposedly misunderstood friends.

There’s no other way to describe this other than a swipe at Obama. And the need to take that swipe, as Hillary apparently sees it, shows just how much the Obama administration has endangered the relationship between the Democratic Party and Jewish leadership in the US over the last few years.

This isn’t exactly Nixon-goes-to-China insight, either. However, Hillary reminds John Fund of Richard Nixon in other ways:

Todd S. Purdum of Politico notes that Hillary Clinton “is in the midst of re-tooling herself and her staff for a 2016 campaign that will presumably introduce at least some version of a ‘New Hillary.’” Purdum highlights the obvious echoes of Richard Nixon, who created and presented a more humane “New Nixon” to American voters in 1968 as he tried to recover from his own humiliating loss of the presidency eight years earlier. “It was an exercise in media control and manipulation,” the historian Michael Genovese has written.

But it worked. Convinced that Nixon was the most conservative candidate who could win in 1968, conservatives ranging from Barry Goldwater to Strom Thurmond to William F. Buckley endorsed him. Nixon himself cynically observed of his new conservative allies: “They don’t like me, but they tolerate me.” …

Then came Watergate, the Plumbers, wiretapping, illegal campaign cash, and obstruction of justice. On the night of Vice President Agnew’s resignation in October 1973 over corruption charges, Buckley addressed the New York Conservative party by saying, “It is a terrible irony that at the moment of history when liberalism is sputtering in confusion, we should be plagued by (morally) weak and devious men.”

Nixon’s fall from power the next year crippled conservatism, wiped out dozens of conservatives in the 1974 midterm elections, and left a stain on the republic. William Rusher, the publisher of National Review, looked back on conservatives who had enabled Nixon to win the 1968 nomination and said they owed history an accounting for “this uncharacteristic but unavoidable streak of opportunistic calculation.”

That’s a warning signal to these same Jewish leaders that Hillary schmoozed yesterday, and Democrats in general. These aren’t the New Clintons; they’re the same arrogant, entitled, and conniving Clintons they’ve always been, only minus Bill Clinton’s charm … and Richard Nixon’s grasp of foreign affairs.

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