Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has another problem: What to say about Iran? The conservative America Rising is already taunting her with a “Hillary In Hiding” attack, noting that for one of the greatest secretaries of state in history (isn’t that what President Obama said?), she is depriving us of her wisdom on the single most important national security issue of our time– the potential for a nuclear-armed Iran.
American Rising wrote, “The Democrats 2016 frontrunner is in hiding. That demonstrates just how weak her party’s current political position is and underscores that Hillary, more than anything is a political animal. On issues as big and central to her record as health care and Iran, Hillary is a no comment.”
Does she back the president? If so, she is at odds with most prominent Democrats in office on a critical issue. If she doesn’t, what is wrong with the deal and what did or could she have done to head off the deal, which by all accounts is a continuation of her own policy?
It would be immensely helpful to hear her views on Iran now, either to support the president under whom she served or to make a critical difference in the enforcement of this agreement, the sanctions debate and a final Iran deal, if there is to be one.
One suspects, however, that Hillary has a finger in the wind. If this goes well, she’ll want to claim credit later. If it is a catastrophe she’ll want to distance herself from the underlying policy and whip up an explanation as to why this is any different than her own policy of engagement, opposition to every round of Congressional sanctions and laxity on the United Nations resolutions. And most of all this goes to one of the most meaningful decisions of her tenure and this presidency, namely to sit idly by while the Green Revolution was crushed. As Iran gains the upper hand in nuclear poker, that call is going to look particularly bad, I suspect.
What does Hillary think? She probably hasn’t decided what is advantageous. She is, not unlike her husband, flexible. But she is unlike her husband in one way– he acted boldly and used American power, which Obama delayed or refused to use again and again. And there was Hillary all along to flak for him.
It is not impossible to envision a candidate who runs to Hillary’s left on domestic issues on climate change, single-payer healthcare and gay marriage while running a “Who lost Iran?” campaign on foreign policy. Not only are there current senators who could meet that description, but former Gov. Howard Dean or current Gov. Jerry Brown could work– if they had the will. The issue is leadership and boldness. Hillary ran a timid 2008 campaign, has no major accomplishment to show for her years as secretary of State and has dragged her feet on issues like support for gay marriage. In a party fed up with settling for very little (a half-baked Obamacare) and deeply aware of Obama’s incompetence, why not a bold visionary who can deliver? (The latest CNN poll about Obama reports, “Fifty-six percent also say he does not inspire confidence, and 53% don’t view him as a strong and decisive leader.”)
Clinton may want to hold back, but holding back and refusing to set her own well-defined vision in non-hedging strokes is one of her central issues. Others in her party know that too.