Maggie Haberman of Politico confirms first that Hillary Clinton is entirely inaccessible to the media and second that none of those denied access thought it important to let the public know Clinton is hiding from questions. Haberman observed, “What has been really striking about Hillary Clinton’s book tour is she has not taken a single question, that I know of from reporters who are attending.”
Well, who can blame Clinton from hiding, I suppose, given her declining popularity, the gaffe-filled book tour and the instability engulfing Europe and the Middle East. She is ducking the press for now, but even that is problematic. Clinton’s reputation as overly cautious and hyper-controlled at some point becomes a lack of courage and conviction. What does she think we should do about Gaza? What does she think about the Iran interim agreement extension?
Until now Clinton has been cautiously defensive of the administration. After all, it’s pretty hard to indict the president and her successor for policies essentially begun on her watch. By not speaking out she’s preserving the appearance of solidarity with the president, which these days seems like a general-election error. Nevertheless, with the potential for a left-wing challenger hanging over her head she dare not call out the president for weakness, indecision or insufficient world leadership. But soon she will be presented with the choice she thought she left behind in 2008: Be responsible on foreign policy or play to the left-wing base?
Here are some of the dilemmas she faces if she comes out from hiding:
- Does she take President Obama’s line and call for an immediate cease-fire or does she recognize Israel already agreed to one and, in any case, must destroy the tunnels and missiles that threaten its citizens?
- Does she back Obama’s police work in gathering evidence of Russian complicity or does she declare the jig is up, call for robust U.S. leadership and urge we shore up other Eastern European countries’ defenses?
- Does she cheer the Iran deal extension (John Kerry doesn’t understand why giving $2.8 billion in further relief and allowing ICBM, advanced missile research and low level — easily upgraded — enrichment to continue is a bad deal for the West) or does she join responsible Senate Democrats in calling for new sanctions and increased pressure on Iran?
- Does she ignore the rise of ISIS (claiming like uninformed isolationists that we have no dog in that fight) or does recognize pulling all troops out of Iraq was a grievous error and call for swift U.S. action?
- Does she applaud the date certain for an Afghanistan pullout of all troops or does she join those worried that the pullout will re-enforce the appearance of U.S. weakness?
She better figure this out soon. She can’t hide forever. And frankly, you have to wonder if we want a president who feels the necessity of hiding from reporters to avoid tough calls.