Ultimately, and ironically, it seems she fell victim to a vast left-wing conspiracy that resented her generally centrist foreign policy views (early support for the Iraq war, support for Kyl-Lieberman, unwavering support for Israel, etc.).
And so it was interesting that she barely touched on foreign policy in her concession speech today. She mentioned Iraq only twice, she mentioned terrorism only once, and she didn’t mention Iran at all. After all, her serious approach to each of these issues proved liability in the Democratic primary. She spent years building a strong record on national security, and in the end her party opted for a candidate with no national security experience at all.
This strikes me as about half right. How serious was Hillary Clinton’s approach to foreign policy issues? It was calculated, certainly, some might say opportunistic. I admired her response in one of the early debates on PBS last year when she and the other candidates were asked what the first thing they would do should a US city suffer a terrorist attack. Obama said the first he would do was make sure that there as “an effective emergency response” so there wasn’t a reprise of Katrina. Hillary–with some qualifications, it is true–said that the first thing she would do was “respond,” which I took to mean “retaliate”–the correct response, in my view.
But by and large Hillary Clinton’s position on foreign policy issues listeth as the wind bloweth. The commentator over at JohnMcCain.com mentions her “early” support for the war in Iraq, but that was back when supporting the President on Iraq was the popular thing to do. As the popularity of that position eroded, so did Mrs. Clinton’s support.
But where that commentator was exactly right was in his comment on the Democratic party’s opting for “a candidate with no national security experience at all.”
That is not necessarily a bad thing. Experience isn’t everything. There is also talent, character, commitment to the right values. Obama’s talent is for ingratiating himself with the left-liberal factions of the electorate. His character was displayed, for example, by his allegiance to the church, and therefore to the announced positions, of Rev. “God-damn America” Wright and by his friendship with aging 60s radicals like Bill Ayres and Bernadine Dohrn. When it comes to foreign policy, the “cash value” of all this was shown in his declaration that he would be happy to meet, without preconditions, leaders of nations like Iran, Venezuela, and North Korea.
I used to think that Obama was a sort of updated version of George McGovern, with a generous helping of Jimmy Carter’s self-righteousness thrown in for good measure. I now believe I misread Obama. He is something far more grandiloquent, and far more toxic. He is a reprise of 1960s radicalism, burnished by a Harvard education, underwritten by the simmering resentments of an anti-democratic elite that never recovered from the shock of Ronald Reagan, the end of the Soviet Union, and the stupendous, historically unprecedented, prosperity of the last two decades. They will not easily forgive America for those victories, and an Obama presidency would make sure they were not repeated.