September 4, 2013
Hillary Clinton
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies on the Benghazi attack before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)

Hillary Clinton, through a spokesman Tuesday, declared her support for military action in Syria: “Secretary Clinton supports the president’s effort to enlist the Congress in pursuing a strong and targeted response to the Assad regime’s horrific use of chemical weapons.” That is sufficiently vague to leave her wiggle room later on to claim President Obama’s response was not strong or targeted enough, or alternativ

ely, that it was too broad. She’ll maneuver as needed later on.

Clinton’s choice to once again back military action in the Middle East almost certainly wouldn’t be a problem in a general election, should she decide to run. Unless an anti-interventionist like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) manages to get the nomination, she likely won’t face a challenge from Republicans on the use of force.

On the Democratic Party side, there remains the possibility that an opportunistic anti-interventionist such as Barack Obama in 2008 could step forward to battle her. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and former Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold come to mind.

However, the overriding concern for Hillaryland should be that the greatest calamities of the Obama era — Benghazi, a feckless Syria policy and Iran’s swift progress toward a nuclear weapons capability — are traceable to her. Her defenders say those were all the president’s fault; she tried to do better. It’s problematic, however, to slam the president, who is still idolized by a chunk of the Democratic base, and even more problematic to admit her own irrelevance. This, among other things, would raise the issue as to why she spent so much time in the air, visiting place of tangential interest to the United States while huge dangers brewed. Moreover, it’s not clear that Hillary ever had or presented comprehensive policy plans that might have had a chance for success.

Most important, the Democratic base is united in their outrage over the National Security Agency surveillance programs. There is no evidence Hillary opposes, or ever opposed, anti-terrorist surveillance programs.

In sum, Hillary may, like a horrid flashback, face another challenge from the left in 2016. Her real problem, however, is that 3 a.m. phone call ad. It turns out neither she nor Obama were ready to take it.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.