Hillary Clinton faces an intractable problem: she hasn’t accomplished anything. Originally I wrote that as ‘she hasn’t done anything” but I realized that she has done plenty of things. She married a man who became a decent—if undistinguished—president of the United States, she became the Democratic senator of a state she has never lived in and which is heavily Democratic, and she accepted the magnanimous offer to be Secretary of State from the man who bested her in the Democratic Primaries in 2007/2008. While Sec. of State, she achieved…anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
It’s an open question if she achieved anything in her four years as Sec. of State. Looking at the three principal foreign policy efforts (or ‘events’ if one prefers) of the United States in the years 2009-2012, the list is less than stellar. There was the “Russian Reset”—which has thrust the US into a renewed Cold War with Russia and a malevolent Putin. There was the “Arab Spring”—where America stood by its long-time ally and friend, President of Egypt Hosni Mubarak until suddenly the United States didn’t support him anymore and helped oust him in favor of Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi (who has been subsequently ousted himself). There was “Hillary Clinton’s War in Libya”—where NATO (*cough*America*cough*) led an effort to remove dictator Colonel Gaddafi and replace him with…an amalgam of small time, violent militias which have one thing in common, a passion for Radical Islam. There was the Syrian Civil War, where Obama threatened to intervene and then didn’t because…reasons, making America look weak and foolish [update, October 31, 2015: Obama subsequently has engaged America in the Syrian conflict and has reneged on his promise not to have ‘boots on the ground’]. America (by which I mean the Obama Administration) did nothing and somehow managed to do it badly. Then it came time to withdraw from Iraq, and it’s true, the US withdrew from Iraq, leaving behind a stable, prosperous democracy—until along comes ISIS, which damn near blitzkriegs all the way to Baghdad because the Iraqi Army was nothing more than an empty shell filled with corruption and political lackeys used to prop up the Shi’ite government. And in the midst of this, one of America’s ambassadors was brutally murdered, probably due to incompetence in Hillary Clinton’s State Department, and the American people were lied to (and, to date, a full explanation of what happened and why has not been forthcoming from the US Government).
In short, Obama’s foreign policy has been a mess. It has achieved little, if anything, except to make America look weak or weak-willed to its enemies and fickle to its friends. Hell, it hasn’t even been consistent. America intervened in Libya—for reasons not all that clear—and then did not intervene in Syria (for some pretty clear reasons, specifically the fact that Syria’s Civil War is a quagmire for the ages, and one where both Russia and Iran, two big time actors on the world stage, have vested interests in propping up the Assad Regime). America pulled out of Iraq (probably when it shouldn’t have, and certainly in a manner it shouldn’t have) while delaying its departure from Afghanistan (which can’t come soon enough in my own humble opinion).
So….returning to that “intractable problem” I insist Hillary Clinton has. The problem is not that she has failed to achieve anything while she was Secretary of State (or ever, in her varied official roles, for that matter). That isn’t a problem really, mainly because the average Democratic voter would probably vote for Hillary Clinton even if she was seen on the steps of the Capitol kicking a toddler, stealing his lollipop, and eating the child’s puppy alive in front of the child’s widowed mother on her way to Arlington National Cemetery to mourn her late husband.
Rather, the problem is that she must confront her (many) failures as Secretary of State or she must distance herself from Obama’s foreign policy and say that the only reason she failed to achieve anything was because Obama was an incompetent fool who tried to implement an idiotic foreign policy which was doomed from the beginning.
Neither option is particularly palatable to Clinton. Openly discussing one’s shortcomings and failings is something no one enjoys doing, especially not when it would be done in front of the nation’s media and would be about something as vital as the United States’ foreign policy. Besides all that, Hillary Clinton is about as vain, narcissistic, and imperious as any politician, with a heaping helping of Nixon’s paranoia and secretiveness to boot, so that first option will happen around about the same time the 18 missing minutes from the Watergate Tapes are discovered.
On the other hand, while the Democratic Party is (broadly speaking) divided between the House of Clinton and the House of Obama, and while the two houses have had a lengthy and bitter resentment of each other (with a deep personal enmity, it is suspected, between Obama and Bill Clinton), the two houses have always come together and presented a united front and a unified Democrat Party when push comes to shove. Although I’m sure Hillary Clinton would love to publicly rip into Obama for his various Foreign Policy shortcomings, blunders, and failures stemming from his naiveté and his unhealthy dislike of American dominance on the world stage…it is a distinct and indeed a likely possibility that she will resist the temptation.
So if Hillary Clinton can’t confront her lack of achievement, and if she can’t explain it away as the product of poor leadership from her boss, Obama, then it explains why she has chosen her current strategy: say nothing. She is doing her best to simply ignore her past actions and decisions, to never mention them, to never discuss them, never to acknowledge them, and to avoid anyone who would confront her about them—in essence, confining herself to carefully staged “press conferences” and big, lavish speeches while refusing to take questions from anyone in the media.
I would normally say that this strategy of simply ignoring an issue—really, refusing to say anything of substance on any topic which matters—wouldn’t work. The problem is, the average American voter is so unaware of politics that this strategy just might work.