Updated, 8/13, w/link to Atlantic interview
To some extent, this Dana Milbank column in the Washington Post (and the ensuing material in the comment thread) read a little like a Democrat family-feud version of trench warfare . . . a furious fusillade of factional fire, with little immediate effect, as long as you keep your head down.
There is nothing quite like an abject American foreign policy failure to precipitate an angry blame-game, no? Especially from those in your own political party.
Hillary Clinton thinks she now sees an opening to criticize her former boss, especially whilst Mr. Cool is out playing golf "as the world burns."
For his part Millbank, a few commenters wryly observed, seems to be making his expected loyalty shift over to she-who-would-be-queen.
Here are just two examples:
MrBoz 2:45 PM EST And Milbank begins his pivot to Hillary ... helping to separate her from this failed president.and
SimpleCountryActuary 2:57 PM EST Apparently Milbank is making another installment in his contributions to Hillary's 2016 Presidential Campaign.This intramural Democrat trench warfare being waged between Obama and his former Sec'y of State Clinton so early in his second term, makes you wonder how long it will be before someone seeking additional advantage opts to spray the functional political equivalent of gas in order to further skew the odds.
What seems unusual is that, for her part, Hillary is not even waiting for the anticipated outcome of the midterms to put distance between herself and Obama.
Or, perhaps she's trying to provide a "second platform" for Democrat senatorial candidates (and House members) to articulate -- on-the-line candidates who are trying desperately to survive the anticipated debacle come this fall?
Gosh, that sounds so Clintonian, doesn't it? Oh, wait . . .
Anyway, I suppose it's a rare occasion when one feels compelled (as I certainly do) to concede at least one debating point to President Obama, though certainly not any victory in the overall foreign policy scrum. In that regard, they are both losers.
The amusing thing was that the debating point Obama did score in this sour little exchange, turned out to be "friendly fire" -- hitting both himself and his former Sec'y of State. For at least the second time in as many days, Obama sharply sought to rebuke critics who claimed he should have insisted on keeping a residual military presence in Iraq, via a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) back in 2011 when he instead chose to completely pull all U.S. Forces altogether.
He is grousing out loud now by sarcastically referencing mostly his Republican critics, calling them "folks who oftentimes are trying to defend previous policies that they themselves made." The problem is that his failure to obtain a SOFA was indeed at the heart of the serious foreign policy collapse that is now taking place in Iraq today.
Ouch! That nasty Obama shot passed right through his own foot, en route to a direct hit on Hillary, though it was unquestionably aimed elsewhere. Touché , Mr. President! You got her!
For her part, Clinton is desperately trying to postulate a novel "Goldilocks principle" in American foreign affairs, as a "just right" response to the too hot Bush, and the too cold Obama formulations.
From Millbank's column (quoting from her interview with Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic):
She applied a bit of Clintonian triangulation to the foreign policies of Obama and George W. Bush, suggesting that there’s a just-right medium between the too-hot Bush policy and the too-cold Obama approach.
"I think part of the challenge is that our government too often has a tendency to swing between these extremes," she said. She later added: "You know, when you’re down on yourself, and when you are hunkering down and pulling back, you’re not going to make any better decisions than when you were aggressively, belligerently putting yourself forward."Of course, the risible fly in that ointment comes down to this: For four long years she was the chief cook and bottle washer of the Obama foreign policy -- she was not just some lowly sous chef, or outside observer, in what she is now calling the too-cold Obama kitchen.
It was she who hired the top operatives, wrote the menu, and prepared and served up the foreign policy dishes, most of which failed rather miserably! Even she recently struggled to try to name one single foreign policy success when asked to do so in a friendly forum -- at the Women of the World, 2014 Summit back in early April of this year! Two minutes later, and no accomplishments.
That rah rah mush answer she gave, just 4 short months ago, lauding the cooperative efforts between herself and her "partner" President Obama, now sounds downright duplicitous when compared with her recent nasty attack on an unattributed White House quip summing up the Obama Doctrine as, "Don't do stupid shit", alleging, as she said in response that: "Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle."
But thinking back to that partnership . . . the toppling in Egypt, and the subsequent reversal, active precipitation the fall of Libya, and the ensuing disaster in Benghazi, the reset with Russia . . . need we go on? These and others comprised a failed foreign policy during those years four years.
From the perspective of judging Hillary's performance as Sec'y of State, the logical point should be this:
If the White House was really calling the shots, and she disagreed at the time, where were her organizing principles in staying on and cheer leading? But if she agreed and/or guided that policy at the time, then where was her judgment?