Saturday, November 29, 2008

Late (But Thoughtful) AP Article on Irony of Clinton as Secretary of State

The news may have come late in the day, but the Associated Press has finally chimed in on the irony of Obama nominating Clinton as Secretary of State after he ridiculed her foreign policy credentials during the Democratic primaries. Here is a snippet:

It wasn't too long ago that Barack Obama and his advisers were tripping
over one another to tear down Hillary Rodham Clinton's foreign policy
credentials. She was dismissed as a commander in chief wanna-be who did little
more than sip tea and make small talk with foreign leaders during her days as
first lady.

"What exactly is this foreign policy experience?" Obama said mockingly
of the New York senator. "Was she negotiating treaties? Was she handling crises?
The answer is no."

The article also reports that some of Clinton's harshest critics will serve with her in the Obama administration:
Greg Craig, selected to serve as White House counsel in the Obama
administration, delivered a withering attack during the primaries on Clinton's
claims that she could rightfully share in the credit for some of the foreign
policy successes of her husband's presidency.

"She did not sit in on any National Security Council meetings when she
was first lady," Craig insisted in one conference call. He went on to knock down
Clinton's claims to influence in the Northern Ireland peace process, opening
borders for refugees during the war in Kosovo, and making a dangerous visit to

"There is no reason to believe . . . that she was a key player in
foreign policy at any time during the Clinton administration," Craig wrote in a
campaign memo.

Susan Rice, an Obama adviser who could land a spot in the new
administration, mocked the idea that Clinton could lay claim to foreign policy
credentials by marriage.

"There is no crisis to be dealt with or managed when you are first lady,"
Rice sniffed last March. "You don't get that kind of experience by being married
to a commander in chief."

My thoughts: A political commentator cited in the article rightfully observes that political campaigns often involve hyperbole. But this type of politicking conflicts with Obama's campaign narrative. He was depicted as a righteous politician, while Clinton represented "dirty" politics. Indeed when Clinton resorted to hyperbole (e.g., the 3am commercial), critics accused her of waging a "kitchen sink" campaign and destroying the potential for a Democratic victory.

It becomes clearer everyday how skillfully Obama out-maneuvered his opponents. Often, the best politicians wage political battle without appearing as if they are. It also becomes abundantly clear how little critique the media offered in response to the anti-Clinton rhetoric during the primaries and how very few of them seem willing to examine the contradictions between that rhetoric and Obama's decision to nominate Clinton as Secretary of State. It is a lot easier for a candidate to play politics if the media fail to scrutinize his or her claims. Accordingly, AP writer Nancy Benac deserves kudos for writing this article. Although I have analyzed these issues many times on Dissenting Justice, I am just a lowly blogger (for the literalists out there, this was a crude attempt at self-deprecating humor).

Related Reading on Dissenting Justice:

* Progressives Awaken from Obama-Vegetative State
* Governing In Prose: Obama's Cabinet Picks Defy Campaign Narrative That Emphasized * "Hope," "Change," and "Washington-Outsider" Status
* More "Change": Tom Daschle to Lead Dept. of Health and Human Services
* If Clinton Becomes Sec. of State for Obama, My Cynicism Will Max Out!

You can read the full article here: Obama Team Repackaging Clinton After Campaign Digs.


NYSmike said...

It's not really "skillfully out-maneuvering" when the press is behind you all along....that's called cheating. If Hillary said the sun was yellow and Obama said it was green and the press then reports th sun is green...again, skillfully out-maneuvering...NOT SO MUCH!

Double Jointed Fingers said...

It wasn't just the press - it was the DNC.

Nice place - one I shall have to visit more often.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

NYSmike - I agree that the media certainly helped Obama. It is impossible to say that the media caused his win, however, but certainly they helped. Clinton made missteps along the way, but I generally agree with all who think the media frenzy was unprofessional. I have written on this elsewhere. Media bias is unethical and it does not always advance liberal causes (i.e., not challenging Bush on war).

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Double-Jointed: There are higher ups in the party who probably orchestrated a lot of what we saw -- including the Cabinet post. I never take anything at face value (certainly not now).

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