1. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, perhaps Clinton’s most formidable general election opponent, is holding steady in polls nationally and gaining support from Republicans. While Democratic support is down somewhat, unsurprisingly, GOP support is up, the natural result of a rally around a Republican besieged by a hyperventilating media. If the GOP (or Christie himself) doesn’t knock Christie out, is Clinton really the best person to tut-tut his payback politics?
2. Clinton has her own drip, drip, drip problem on a far more serious issue: the attack in Benghazi, Libya, in which four Americans were killed. Democrats and Republicans alike are dismissing a New York Times spin piece suggesting al-Qaeda was uninvolved. Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta testified that of course everyone knew from the get-go that it was a terrorist attack. Recently released testimony before the House Armed Services Committee also confirms that it was up to Clinton’s State Department to request adequate security at its facilities, and, in fact, the State Department rejected a Pentagon offer of a Marine detachment and did not renew a security contract when the lease was up at the Benghazi facility two months before the attack. At the very least, Clinton was out to lunch; at worst, she tried (with help from a lap-dog review board and Susan Rice’s Sunday talk show spin) to avoid responsibility for this debacle.
3. The ongoing chaos in the Middle East and the deterioration of U.S. influence will continue to raise questions about Clinton’s role — or lack of role — in foreign policy. Was she simply wrong about a range of issues (e.g. Bashar al-Assad was a “reformer”) or powerless? Was the Iran interim deal what she had in mind? Was opposition from the administration to sanctions passed in the first term her idea?
4. It is not very often that Vice President Biden earns kudos for his speaking abilities, but he gave a heartfelt and meaningful eulogy at Ariel Sharon’s funeral, stressing his own relationship with Sharon and Sharon’s role in the founding and protection of Israel (“because he possessed such incredible physical courage — and I would add
political courage — he never, never, never deviated from that preoccupation and interest, as he referred to it. It was his life’s work that even someone on the shores hundreds of — thousands of — miles from here could see, could smell, could taste, could feel, and when you were in his presence there was never, never any doubt about it”). Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton only issued a written, perfunctory statement, rather in keeping with her frosty relationship with the Jewish state in the first term. (Interestingly, the furor over her condemnation about Israeli settlement building had to be smoothed over by Biden.) Again, one has to wonder if she is a fair-weather friend to Israel or was simply a messenger gal for a president whose antipathy toward the Jewish state is obvious.
5. It is not lost on the mainstream media that Clinton again has an Iowa problem. CNN reports, “A restive and emboldened progressive base long suspicious of Clintonian moderation, a hunger for fresh Democratic voices, and a caucus electorate that boasts a cherished tradition of voting with its heart rather than its head. . . . Yet despite having the Democratic establishment at her back, there remains a palpable sense of unease with Clinton in grass-roots corners of the party, even as those very same activists promise to support her if no one else runs.” In other words, all they need is an alternative who might catch fire, just as Obama did in 2008.
6. Why is she running (other than that the Clintons need political power)? If there is a new idea, a departure from Obama policies or a glimmer of freshness from the Clinton camp, we haven’t heard it. The former secretary of state can play the gender card as much as she likes, but if she has only a third Obama term to offer, she’ll lose to a capable candidate, whether in the primary or the general election.
Clinton, sooner or later, will have to face a host of questions on everything from her foundation’s donors to her delinquent support for gay marriage to her support for the ludicrously unsuccessful individual mandate. She better spend some time thinking of answers and redefining her image; otherwise there is no reason a bright, young liberal wouldn’t take a shot at knocking her off.