During her book tour, the question was whether Hillary “We Were Dead Broke” Clinton had become disconnected from ordinary Americans. Now the question is whether she is disconnected from all principles, not to mention the details of her own biography.
The running gag with Clinton used to be about her ever-changing hairstyles. Those are nothing compared with the bobs and weaves she has undertaken since her presidential-killing vote to authorize war in Iraq.
Let’s see if we can trace things from the start of Clinton’s war with her own record. As a junior senator, she had her eye on the White House, and therefore, like other ambitious Democrats, she voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq. But the war went badly for a time, and President George W. Bush became unpopular. So having supported the war for political gain, she felt obliged to oppose the surge — to rescue the war she voted for — again for political gain. She lost the nomination in 2008, extracting the lesson that you can never be too dovish on foreign policy for a party captured by McGovernism.
When President Obama called on her to serve as secretary of state, it was a great time to show that she could be the un-Bush and regain foreign policy bona fides in her party. She talked about “smart diplomacy,” bragged about the light footprint and stuck to the president like glue. But then wars went badly, and her support for the president she had backed to recover her political footing became a liability.
So — deep breath (are you keeping up?) — she therefore had to convince us that when she served the president, watched from afar for about a year after leaving office and made numerous supportive statements, she was actually faking being supportive of Obamaism and instead she really disagreed with him. She was more like the hawk that voted for the Iraq war, which she later had to make amends for by voting against the surge. (But for the sake of comity in the White House, she obviously had to conceal her disagreements with the president so that everyone there thought she was on board. Obviously.)
“Hard Choices,” certainly the least-fitting title of any recent political book, and her disastrous book tour were followed by the collapse of Iraq. She now had to convince voters that she had been a hawk all along, just like voters suspected in 2008 when she tried to convince them she wasn’t by voting against the surge. Now in 2014 she needed to sound like Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Mitt Romney, telling us that she really opposed Obama’s Syria policy even when she praised the president’s cop-out (erasing the red line) in the fall of 2013.
We have come full circle. The vote for the Iraq war really was in keeping with her true hawkish leanings, and the surge was just playing politics. (But didn’t she tell us. . .?) This is dizzying, if not Orwellian.
What is Clinton’s real view on Iran or Iraq? Gong! Irrelevant. She is only interested in what position will help her current political aims. Any past inconsistencies she bets can be ignored or passed over as a function of her being a loyal Democrat (except when trying to con liberal Democrats into believing that she wasn’t a hawk, which she now insists she was). Now she is being herself? Silly goose! She got a tad too much criticism for attacking Obama, so she called him up to say that when she attacked him about their differences on Syria and Israel (which she waited until now to reveal) she wasn’t attacking him.
She may not get to be president or get a Nobel Peace Prize, but has there ever been someone who so cavalierly throws her former self under the bus? In a city of opportunistic and unprincipled pols, she stands head and shoulders above the rest. And if we should need someone with sound instincts and a stiff spine in the White House? Well, then we might be in trouble.
Her fans in and out of the media know that she is spinning tales, forever shape-shifting. They don’t care. Vote for the dove. Vote for the hawk. Whatever. It is all about power — getting it, keeping it and wielding it against those who would deny you power. The Hillaryland hacks and Hillaryland hack wannabes are uninterested in whether she is telling the truth. Outrage over the handling of the Iraq war was helpful to liberals in beating Republicans; studied disregard for the specifics of her handling of Iraq will now be necessary to beat the Republicans.
We have reached the depths of post-modernism. Facts and beliefs are whatever political expediency requires. The press regurgitates the spin the pols think voters want to hear. And you wonder why the world is a mess and the public thinks pols are all liars?
It may be naive to think the public will ultimately choose someone with actual beliefs who is willing to tell Americans the hard truth: There’s no opting out of acting like a superpower. The terrorists literally will get on planes and come after us.
Hillary Clinton is betting against the sobriety and maturity of the voters; she might be right, but heaven help us and the rest of the Free World if she is.