Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has presided over a foreign policy racked by timidity, inconsistency and indecision. And, if this account from The Daily is to be believed, she knows it:
“Obviously, she’s not happy with dealing with a president who can’t decide if today is Tuesday or Wednesday, who can’t make his mind up,” a Clinton insider told The Daily. “She’s exhausted, tired.”
He went on, “If you take a look at what’s on her plate as compared with what’s on the plates of previous Secretaries of State — there’s more going on now at this particular moment, and it’s like playing sports with a bunch of amateurs. And she doesn’t have any power. She’s trying to do what she can to keep things from imploding.”
Clinton is said to be especially peeved with the president’s waffling over how to encourage the kinds of Arab uprisings that have recently toppled regimes in Egypt and Tunisia, and in particular his refusal to back a no-fly zone over Libya.
In the past week, former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton’s former top adviser Anne-Marie Slaughter lashed out at Obama for the same reason.
The tension has even spilled over into her dealings with European diplomats, with whom she met early this week.
When French president Nicolas Sarkozy urged her to press the White House to take more aggressive action in Libya, Clinton repeatedly replied only, “There are difficulties,” according to Foreign Policy magazine.
“Frankly we are just completely puzzled,” one of the diplomats told Foreign Policy magazine. “We are wondering if this is a priority for the United States.”
Or as the insider described Obama’s foreign policy shop: “It’s amateur night.”
Well, what to make of this?
Clinton said she’s not going to sign up for a second term (if there is one). So, not unlike presidents who start ruminating about their legacy and planning their libraries toward the end of their terms, Clinton could very well be looking ahead. To the extent things continue to go very badly for American foreign policy (e.g. further erosion of U.S. influence in the Middle East, Russian aggression, Iranian progress on its nuclear program) she and her spinners are wise to start laying the groundwork for the finger-pointing festival that will begin as soon as she is out the door. And that will get very interesting.
Every administration has the insider who writes the tell-all book. But unlike Bush press aide Scott McClellan or Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, both of whom went on to write backstabbing books, Clinton is actually a member of President Obama’s inner circle, giving her plenty of eyewitness observations for books, magazine articles, background sources’ dishing and maybe even a new wing in the Clinton presidential library. So before she is blamed for the misfortunes, Clinton’s loyal defenders are wise to start early.
Clinton’s tales of woe would be eagerly gobbled up by conservative and mainstream press outlets alike. After all, to quote Alice Roosevelt Longworth, they live by the adage, “If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody come sit next to me.”