I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to sit through various speeches by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Her remarks tend to range from the annoying to the innocuous and serve as a bitter reminder of her time carpetbagging in New York’s senate seat. But when she doesn’t have anything to say, others are quick to note that as well.
The Democratic Party was ripped open last week as the party’s leader in the House and one of its brightest stars in the Senate openly took on the president. But the party’s most likely future leader was nowhere to be found.
Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and likely future presidential candidate, stayed out of the debate on the $1.1 trillion government spending bill known as the Cromnibus, as well as the partisan debate around the use of torture under the Bush administration sparked by the release of a Senate report last week.
And while Clinton often waits until she has a pre-scheduled, unrelated speech to address a major topic of national importance, she did not use the opportunity of an appearance Monday morning to comment on the issues.
One of the big advantages of running for office while unemployed (and let’s face it.. she’s running) is that there is less of an automatic expectation that you will have to address the media and comment on events which fall under your purview. Obviously the press corps would like you to comment, but as a private citizen you’re technically under no obligation to do so. And like any clever politician, Hillary seems to be keeping her cards close to her vest.
It’s the low risk play and Hillary has employed the same tactic in the past, but it hasn’t always worked out for her. During the height of the Ebola debate, Clinton remained essentially silent until the middle of October when she finally came out and said that Ebola was not going to remain confined. Of course, by then the outbreak in the United States had nearly run its course and was about to drop off the political radar screen. On the subject of Afghanistan, back when she was still Secretary of State, Hillary promised that we would not abandon the women of that nation. But since leaving office Ms. Clinton has been essentially silent on Barack Obama’s decisions about pulling out and the ongoing unraveling of the region. This ongoing silence stands in bright contrast to Elizabeth Warren who is basically knocking people down to get to a microphone on every questions which crosses the media transom.
By not taking any position on the pressing issues of the day, Hillary avoids leaving a paper trail where she can be called to task in the future. In some ways that may seem like smart politics. But at the same time, she will be once again asking the nation to believe that she is the one best suited to answer that 3 a.m. phone call. The argument has much of the air let out of it if we have no idea what she’ll say when she picks it up.