Clinton Vies With Bush For Hawkishness on War

Speaking of Sen. Clinton…

Clinton Vies With Bush For Hawkishness on War (New York Sun)

Exhibiting a knack for political repositioning that has some Republicans tremulous about 2008, Senator Clinton nearly matched President Bush’s hawkishness in her remarks to the Jewish Community Relations Council yesterday morning, hours before she enthusiastically denounced his position on abortion at New York University in the afternoon. The speeches demonstrated what some have identified as Mrs. Clinton’s skill in playing to her audience. At the 92nd Street Y, the senator delivered a keynote address to the Jewish council’s 26th annual New York Congressional Breakfast. Her remarks followed speeches by Senator Schumer and Reps. Charles Rangel, Anthony Weiner, Jerrold Nadler, Major Owens, and Eliot Engel, all Democrats of New York, and came immediately after an address by the Israeli foreign minister, Silvan Shalom.

The previous speakers from Congress had all expressed admiration for Israel – Mr. Rangel called the Jewish state America’s “only true friend” in the Middle East – and several of them criticized Mr. Bush as insufficiently tough on the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Not to be outdone in taking a hard line against Middle East authoritarianism and terrorism, when Mrs. Clinton addressed the audience – which at various points during the breakfast included, among others, leaders of New York’s Jewish community, Democratic mayoral candidates Fernando Ferrer and C. Virginia Fields, and sex guru “Dr. Ruth” Westheimer – she called on the Palestinian Authority to “act with dispatch to dismantle terrorist organizations.”


To a political analyst, Dick Morris, a former adviser to the Clintons who is now one of their sharpest critics, the success Mrs. Clinton enjoyed in moving, within a few hours, from the right on foreign policy to the left on an issue of domestic significance was characteristic of New York’s junior senator. “Hillary will be what she has to be, in front of whom she has to appear, and on the subjects that she must address,” Mr. Morris said in an e-mail to The New York Sun. “But,” he said,”there is a method behind her inconsistency: Hawkish on male issues like defense. Leftish on female issues like abortion. Run with the gender stereotype at home. Flout it in foreign policy.” Mrs. Clinton, he added, “is infinitely malleable.”

Unlike the incredibly consistent Mr. Morris?

Actually, while she’s clearly positioning herself quite shrewdly, there’s no reason to think that she doesn’t believe what she’s saying on the foreign policy front. She’s apparently been much more hawkish than her husband for quite some time. Aside from her awkward hug of Yasir Arafat’s wife and her poorly-timed (but otherwise correct) calls for Palestinian statehood a few years back, there’s nothing new here.

Indeed, is there an American politician of any prominence who doesn’t support the things she calls for foreign policy-wise in the speech? Headlines aside, the foreign policy part of her remarks, as reported here, strike me as incredibly tame.

FILED UNDER: 2008 Election, Iraq War, Middle East, Terrorism, , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.