Two Faced Clinton

Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me:

If Senator Clinton can best Senator Obama in today’s round of primaries and caucuses and go on to capture the White House, a co-author of the surge strategy in Iraq says he is convinced she would hold off on authorizing a large-scale immediate withdrawal of American soldiers from Iraq.
In a weekend interview, a retired four-star general, Jack Keane, said that when he briefed Mrs. Clinton in late 2006 and January 2007 on the counteroffensive strategy known as the surge, she “generally supported the surge strategy in the sense she wanted it to succeed but she was skeptical about its chances.”

Mr. Keane is in a position to know Mrs. Clinton, having worked informally with her since 2001, when he was vice chief of staff for the Army. Early last year, the Clinton team even asked the retired general to become a formal adviser to the campaign on military issues, a request Mr. Keane declined, as he has done when asked by other candidates.

Via Spencer. First off, Jack Keane should not be consulting any Democratic presidential candidate, ever, not when every candidate is, publicly at least, opposing the surge that Keane formulated. Keane, like O’Hanlon or Pollack (two other Clinton advisors), is anathema to progressive foreign policy, an evangelist of belligerence who’s more responsible for the continuation of the war over the past year than just about anyone. Secondly, if this is anywhere close to true, the central rebuttal to Obama’s attacks on Clinton’s war vote is bunk. The only reason any Democratic voters disregarded the AUMF vote was because they were confident that Clinton was as committed as Obama to withdrawing. Now that it’s clear that she’d be more inclined to continue the occupation, it seems she’s closer to McCain than Obama on Iraq policy. How depressing that there’s a non-zero chance that both parties will nominate pro-AUMF, pro-occupation candidates. Here’s hoping Texas and Ohio made the right call.

5 thoughts on “Two Faced Clinton

  1. Not quite sure what your point is here. Are you saying Sen. Clinton should have hoped (and said to someone likely to repeat it) that American strategy would fail? Of course she said she wanted it to succeed. What else could she say?
    I really do not know how to interpret an article in a right wing rag like the NY Sun about what Sen. Clinton thinks. I assume it is all lies. And I assume people like Keane and Pollack also lie or at least shade the truth for their own purposes, but of course I have no idea what those purposes are. (Perhaps you know, in which case please tell us.)
    It seems to me very unlikely that either Clinton or Obama will make an unequivocal immediate withdrawal promise. First they do not need to, since McCain is running on Iraq forever!, they will get all the antiwar votes automatically, so their problem is to get as many of the pro-war or anti war but it should not look like a rout or even a defeat people. And second because such a statement would constrain their actions once elected.
    If elected with an immediate withdrawal pledge which could not be carried out for whatever reason (and as various analyses have pointed out, there are strong institutional barriers to immediate withdrawal), that would be a major defeat which would hobble the presidency from then on.
    What the next president wants is maximum flexibility. You get that by being ambiguous. Clinton is more ambiguous, Obama is less. An effective president who wants withdrawal and has a free hand will achieve it. The question is, does Clinton actually want withdrawal. or does she think there is some purpose being served by the occupation? I do not know. I assume she does want withdrawal because I can see no purpose for staying, but that could be my blindness or her failure to understand. Obama I feel more clearly wants out.
    The next question is if we assume they both want out (that is, assume Clinton also wants out), which would be more likely to achieve it? I think Clinton, exactly because she is more experienced with DC and thus more able to navigate the shoals.
    So that is the dilemma: support Clinton because if she wants out, she has the best chance of actually getting out, but there is that worry that she really wants to stay; or support Obama, because he does not want to stay, but may not be skilled enough to get out?
    Your analysis is less nuanced then mine, and perhaps less nuanced is indeed close to the truth. But please, do not take rumors and statements that X said that Candidate Y believes Z about issue A because s/he told him B in a private conversation as being the gospel truth.

  2. Eli Lake got an on-the-record quote from Jack Keane on this. I think Jack Keane knows quite well what Hillary Clinton’s been saying to Jack Keane, and as a Clinton campaign advisor he has no incentive to lie in order to damage her. Also, I’d hope you’re able to do better than ad hominem attacks on the Sun. The Sun does suck, yes, but Lake is a damned good reporter and deserves better than your derision.
    Also, please explain to me how a candidate who’s served on the Senate Armed Service Committee for six years has substantially more foreign policy experience than one who’s served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for four years. Really, I’d like to know. And no, being First Lady doesn’t count at all.

  3. As to Eli Lake, you are absolutely right. Spencer Ackerman respects him and that is enough for me. (I did not notice who wrote the piece when I first responded.)
    I still think lying is pretty endemic and that people in general have agendas.
    The direct quote from Keane is:
    “[Clinton] generally supported the surge strategy in the sense she wanted it to succeed but she was skeptical about its chances.”
    The thing is that is wholly vacuous (to repeat what I said). You can oppose wars because you think they are wrong or because you think they are not in American interest. If Clinton opposes the Iraq war, it is (surely) for the second reason. So of course she would support a strategy if it was going to succeed, but she (correctly) did not think the surge would succeed.
    The paraphrase from Keane said Clinton would not order an large-scale immediate withdrawal. Actually, I think that is true. But again, that says nothing about whether she would end the war, just about how she would go about it.
    The article quotes, directly or by paraphrase, a bunch of liberal hawks saying they are sure Clinton would not do anything foolish.
    I gather you interpret this as saying Clinton will in fact not work as president to end the war. I just do not see that you can draw that conclusion based on what the people quoted actually say. Is Clinton making these people think she will act one way when in fact she will act another? That is what good politicians do, after all. (And equally, maybe she is making me think she will act one way when in fact she will act another.)
    “Also, please explain to me how a candidate who’s served on the Senate Armed Service Committee for six years has substantially more foreign policy experience than one who’s served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for four years. Really, I’d like to know.”
    I did not say “foreign policy experience”, I said “experience”. The experience I am talking about is with the back-stabbing, untrustworthy, anything for power republicans and their followers in the press. For that, her first lady time does count. (But I would be happy with either candidate.)
    My disagreement with you is just this: you say “Now that it’s clear that she’d be more inclined to continue the occupation, it seems she’s closer to McCain than Obama on Iraq policy.” and you call her two-faced, based on this article linked to. But all the article contains is an anodyne quote (second hand) from Clinton, and several people speculating on how she might in fact act. I feel that is not strong enough to justify your reaction.
    But you may be right. The thing about politicians acting like politicians is you do not know what they will do. As I said, I believe she will end the Iraq war because it is not in American interest, and I admitted that she may see it differently.

  4. PS: could yet get a verifier with slightly less confusing background. My eyes are not so good and I cannot read the numbers/letter accurately about 1/2 the time.

  5. Sorry about the verifier; that’s the standard Typepad CAPTCHA, and without it I was getting a lot of spam. I’ll see what I can do about that.
    I think you raise a valid point, but it ignores the fact that Clinton’s campaign rhetoric on withdrawal has been the exception to her consistent record of hawkishness, continuing through to her vote for Kyl-Lieberman. She supported the war and still refuses to say that was a mistake, not because of pride because she actually believes it wasn’t. I think private support for the surge and a continuation of the occupation would be more in keeping with her character than what she’s been saying on the campaign trail.

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