Archive for Monday, December 1, 2008

Obama team reinventing Clinton image

December 1, 2008


— 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.”

That was in March, when Clinton was Obama’s sole remaining rival for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Now, Clinton is on track to become Obama’s secretary of state.

And, unsurprisingly, the sniping at her foreign policy credentials is a thing of the past.

Obama adviser William Daley said Clinton would be “a tremendous addition to this administration. Tremendous.”

Senior adviser David Axelrod called Clinton a “demonstrably able, tough, brilliant person.”

Last spring, though, Clinton was targeted with a steady stream of criticism via conference call, e-mail and campaign-trail digs from the Obama camp, all aimed at shredding her self-portrait as an experienced and confident leader on the international stage. Some of those doing the sniping will be taking up key positions — most likely along with Clinton — in the new 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 Bosnia.

“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.”

Clinton was only too happy to make light of Obama’s own foreign policy credentials, suggesting his biggest selling point was a 2002 speech against going to war with Iraq. “Many people gave speeches against the war then,” she said in a February debate.

Robert Gelbard, an adviser to the Obama campaign on foreign policy who worked in the Clinton administration, said in March that Clinton had more involvement in foreign policy than a lot of first ladies, but added that “her role was limited, and I’ve been surprised at the claims that she had a much greater role.”

Well, never mind about all of that now.

“That was then; this is now,” said David Gergen, who has served as an adviser to both Republican and Democratic presidents. “Campaigns are ever thus.”

“Generally speaking,” Gergen said, “there is a recognition that campaigns bring a certain amount of hyperbole, and when it’s over you try to find the most talented people you can find to work with you.”

Clinton may not have been at the table when her husband made the big decisions, Gergen said, but “she’s been imbibing questions on foreign policy and decision-making since 1992.”

A spokesperson for the Obama transition team declined to comment on the shift in tone.

It also should be said that some of the wounds to Clinton’s foreign policy credentials during the primaries were self-inflicted, most famously her inflated account of the drama associated with a visit she made to Bosnia.

“I remember landing under sniper fire,” she recounted in a speech. “There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.”

Soon enough, video footage surfaced of Clinton’s unremarkable airport arrival ceremony, where she was welcomed by dignitaries and posed for photos with children.

Clinton brought up the Bosnia trip to counter Obama’s suggestion that her experiences as first lady amounted to having tea at an ambassador’s house.

“I don’t remember anyone offering me tea,” she said of the Bosnia visit.

Clinton, in an April debate, blamed her Bosnia gaffe on campaign fatigue. But she did not back away from her claim to broad foreign policy experience as first lady.

“I was not as accurate as I have been in the past,” she said. “But I know, too, that being able to rely on my experience of having gone to Bosnia, gone to more than 80 countries, having represented the United States in so many different settings, gives me a tremendous advantage going into this campaign.”

Well, maybe not in the campaign, as it turned out.

But maybe, just perhaps, as secretary of state.


jmadison 9 years, 2 months ago

I guess those 3AM phone calls will be shunted to Hilary by the White House switchboard. Sweet dreams, Mr. President.

jonas_opines 9 years, 2 months ago

Is anyone surprised by this anymore? It happens with virtually every election.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 2 months ago

" If the name “Bush” was in the headline, regardless of the content of the story, it would be at 30-40 posts by now. "What's your point? It has been among the most corrupt and incompetent in US history. That makes thinking people angry. You should try it sometime, RT.

james bush 9 years, 2 months ago

Obama is slicker than Bill Clinton. He's beguiling the press and others with these appointments while plotting to install his agents without notice. Given time his real agenda will surface and we won't like it.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 2 months ago

Yea, and I posted knowing full well that it would entice a sycophant or two to comment on me rather that the subject of the thread.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 2 months ago

While it is easy to conclude that Obama will merely recycle the policies of the Clinton Administration, it's really to early to tell.It's quite possible that he's making these appointments just so that the inside-the-beltway crowd are comfortable at seeing familiar faces. If he tries to make too many big changes too quickly, he'll almost certainly meet with great resistance, among both Republicans and Democrats. Any changes he does make will have to be gradual, and well-planned. Washington doesn't like shock therapy, even if that's what's really needed.All the Clintonites have a new boss, and they'll either do it his way, or they'll be looking for a job. What "his way" is is pure speculation at this point.

BigAl 9 years, 2 months ago

All I hear is wah, wah, wah from you right wingers. Most of America, including John McCain, is trying to move forward. The majority of Americans are pretty excited about the direction Obama is going with his cabinet and committee picks. Even some of the corrupt right-wing media is holding back.I wish you O'Reilly and Hannity worshipers would get out of the way. America is trying to make a comeback and you people are holding us back......

Flap Doodle 9 years, 2 months ago

It's quite possible that since the O'dude has immediately set about running for a higher office each time he has won an election that he now hasn't the faintest idea of what to actually do.

meggers 9 years, 2 months ago

Most experienced public policy democrats with national expertise and experience in a given area have had some association with the Clinton White House- that's just the way it is. The same people criticizing Obama for appointing these experienced individuals would have been screaming from the rooftops had he tried to appoint a bunch of rookies. I have a feeling that Obama could come out in 100% support of some of the positions espoused by certain posters here, yet they would still find fault with him. Some people are bitterly partisan to the point that they would apparently prefer to be led off of a cliff, rather than shown the trail by a member of the opposing party. I believe Tom Shewman easily falls within that category, making his postings here little more than the hysterical rantings of someone that has sadly lost touch with reality.

moderate1 9 years, 2 months ago

Change? Obama preached so much change until he won the election, he still hasn't set a deadline to withdraw from Iraq, nothing on how we could convert alot of our cars and 18 wheelers to natural gas and electric, just that we will be off foreign oil in 10 years? Our economy, the only plan more gov't spending to fix our roads and bridges(that might take years to take effect) but he plans to cut gov't spending? He lacks real substance so far. Hopefully he will create a turn around and get us out of this downward spiral. I think he meant just CHANGE from republican control not bi-partisan change.

meggers 9 years, 2 months ago

moderate1,You might want to check out the website. You will find specifics there about the agenda and priorities of Obama's administration.Also, forgive me for pointing out the obvious, but it isn't constitutionally possible for him to sign and implement any of his initiatives until he's actually sworn in to office.

moderate1 9 years, 2 months ago

I'm knew I would'nt get a striaght answer. Thanx meggers

Flap Doodle 9 years, 2 months ago

meggers, get ready for x number of years of ODS. What goes around, comes around.

moderate1 9 years, 2 months ago

I know he isn't in office yet but I'm going off what he said he plans to do. I figured most people would know what I mean.

meggers 9 years, 2 months ago

moderate1,www.change.govThe info is there, you just need to look. Sorry, I'm not doing your homework for you.

moderate1 9 years, 2 months ago

I'm sure you would have believed everything Bush's election website said back in '04. I have read some of the info there but it seems vague in some areas like economy.

moderate1 9 years, 2 months ago

p> is just preaching to the choir

moderate1 9 years, 2 months ago

I like to get my news from all areas left and right not just msnbc and

meggers 9 years, 2 months ago

I, too, like ot get my news from a variety of sources. Believe it or not, I get a great deal of my info from CSPAN. You accused Obama of not giving specifics, which is why I directed you to his website for specifics. Obama has given specific proposals with regard to the ecomony (tax cuts for the middle class, an economic stimulous package, auto bailout, incentives for green techology, relief for homeowners facing foreclosure, etc). Perhaps things aren't as specific as you would like, due to the ever-changing volatility of the markets right now. I think he would need a crystal ball to see what things will look like January 20th, when he's actually sworn in.

moderate1 9 years, 2 months ago

He says he wants to raise taxes on corperate America and raise capitol gaines taxes on investments to make his voter base happy. After the election he realized what that will do to foreign and domestic investments so he released a statement stating he will hold off on raising those taxes till or markets could handle it. He was clearly against Bush's trickle down effect on taxes but not now?My point is that Barrack promised us a perfect world (gov't health care, getting out of Iraq, spreading the wealth, getting off of foreign oil) with his campaing speeches, now that he's been elected (I know he hasn't taken office yet meggers) in the press releases that I've seen and read, alot of that stuff might not happen in his first term. That is why I want specifics. Maybe if he had a crystal ball he wouldn't have promised us so much.

Flap Doodle 9 years, 2 months ago

The O'dude's cargo cult is going to be greatly disappointed.

moderate1 9 years, 2 months ago

I do lean a little to the right considering where were at right now. I voted for Bill Clinton in '96, there are other reasons I'm moderate (womens rights, education, war in Iraq and in other areas too).I'm sorry logic if I don't conform to your idea of being moderate I didn't even vote this election because I both campaigns promised something they couldn't deliver.

meggers 9 years, 2 months ago

Obama never promised us a perfect world, moderate1. He spoke at length about the enormous challenges we face, and how it wouldn't be easy to overcome them. The 'Chosen One' and 'Messiah' stuff came from the people who didn't and do not support Obama. The rest of us have no illusions about how difficult it's going to be to steer us out of the mess we're in. Given the overall volatility of the markets, I think it's absolutely vital that Obama tread very carefuly at this stage. He has said that while he has an ambitious set of initiatives, he recognizes that it's important to prioritize those that will have both a short and long-term benefit to the economy. As for the tax initiatives Obama would like to implement, I believe they will happen, but for pretty obvious reasons, it would be incredibly risky to play games with investor confidence at this particular time. Also, not to split hairs too much, but Obama is actually only suggesting a repeal of the Bush tax policies. Even if legislation isn't passed in the next couple of years, they will expire on their own in 2010. Obama merely indicated that if the markets continue to be unpredictable, it might be necessary to delay passing the tax legislation, and instead, allow the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to expire when scheduled in 2010. If the markets were to crash, any economic policies designed to help the consumer would be completely overshadowed by the far-reaching financial devastation the global economy will endure. I don't think Obama is trying to sidestep the issue. Instead, he's being pragmatic about his words and actions, and the potential that they could cause an unwanted domino effect. Priority one needs to be to stabilize the markets.

moderate1 9 years, 2 months ago

that's exactly what I'm saying meggers, but when he gets elected saying one thing and figures out later that he can't do what he said right away that makes me wonder if he knows what is really going on. I'm sure if Mcsame was elected you guys would be the first to cry foul if he deviated from what he got elected for.

moderate1 9 years, 2 months ago

Logic just because I felt neither candidate deserved my vote all my comments are hollow please explain

meggers 9 years, 2 months ago

moderate1,When has a president, (or other elected official for that matter) ever been able to keep every pledge made during the campaign? Never, that's when. If that's truly why you chose not to vote, I suspect you won't be voting at all, ever. I'm a bit perplexed. Unless I misread your post, you seem to agree with WHY Obama needs to be careful before making any sudden moves that might further destabilize the markets, but then you fault him for his caution. Just how do you think he should be proceeding at this point, or on January 20th?

beatrice 9 years, 2 months ago

OMFG!Would you whiners please stop with the crocodile tears about how terrible the Obama administration is already, or at least wait until he actually becomes President! So people who were running against each other said some bad stuff during the campaign -- Oh NO!!!! And now, some Democrats being considered for various posts have ties to Clinton, the last Democrat who was President -- Oh NO!!!! Don't you neocons still have your guns and your religion to cling to? So go ahead and cling to them, but quit your whining already! You aren't acting like Americans, just a bunch of sore losers!

moderate1 9 years, 2 months ago

beatriceneocons? who are you talking about? Religion and guns was this what we were talking about? No religion

moderate1 9 years, 2 months ago

Maybe I criticize Barrack too much but he is in the spotlight.I really do hope he does the change he calls for because our educatoin system is failing same with health care and the economy.

BigAl 9 years, 2 months ago

Off the subject a little bit but has anyone else noticed how the corrupt right-wing media continues to sell Sarah Palin? Almost every time I turn on Fox News, she is on the air in either a repeat or a new interview. Someone needs to tell FOX News that the election is over and that their party lost.Right now, important news of the day is not about Sarah Palin. Period. FOX needs to move on.

moderate1 9 years, 2 months ago

what makes fox news corrupt and not msnbc nyt and other left leaning media

moderate1 9 years, 2 months ago

Because most media outlets seem to lean to one side or the other. Was there something I missed? How is fox news corrupt?

beawolf 9 years, 2 months ago

Well, this thread was entertaining. Why do Obama critics bring a chuckle every time I read their posts. I could care less who he appoints. Democrats, republicans, female or male, white, black, Latino, Clinton, Gates, centrists, conservative, liberal. All that matters are results, and we are 12-18 months away from being able to make any judgments.Those of you who are criticizing his choices before their actions can be judged, are only showing your own biased ignorance.But, please, continue. I'm sure I'm not the only one who finds these amusing.

moderate1 9 years, 2 months ago

12-18 months? I thought it was in january '09 when he takes office.Why if someone criticizes our future leader they are biased and ignorant? Your comment sounds a little biased but not ignorant?

beawolf 9 years, 2 months ago

Moderate1, are you a fool or just pretending to be one? Criticisms based on presumptions are biased and ignorant. There is no debate here. And yes, it will be 12 - 18 months before we see if Obama's strategies and policies will be effective or not. To assume otherwise is... well... biased and ignorant.

Kyle Reed 9 years, 2 months ago

Hypocrite, but then again as a politician we should expect nothing less.

AjiDeGallina 9 years, 2 months ago

according to the recent polls, 78% of the nation supports clinton for this role.The other 22% kill puppies for fun.

Flap Doodle 9 years, 2 months ago

Eric Holder will be sure to get pardons for all the O'dude's minions who are popped for violations of election laws. That's what he does.

Alia Ahmed 9 years, 2 months ago

Tom,I'm curious, do you think more liberal people choose journalism as a profession or that being a journalist leads one to more liberal views? Is it slanted journalism if the media reports more on a campaign that was well run and orchestrated than one that was not. For example, if one football team outscores its opponent by 50 points and used novel and innovative approaches to gain their lead, isn't the story going to necessarily have more focus on the team who scored the most points? The Democrats had the first African American as their nominee and used the internet and other technology as no campaign in the past has done. It is going to garner more attention. Earlier in this thread you asked why the Obama supporters were so quiet. I don't know that there is a lot for us to say. So far, he's selected members of his cabinet that both the left and right have also supported. Only time will tell whether the Obama administration will be able to make the positive changes they ran their campaign on. At times, you say that you'll give this new administration a chance to see what they can accomplish but then I hear the same rhetoric as before the election.

jaywalker 9 years, 2 months ago

logicsound: "And personally, I don't think there is a good reason not to vote. Both campaigns promising something they couldn't deliver? Welcome to politics."Exactly! Hasn't been a single Prez who backed up every campaign promise. Fairly impossible to do so. And jonas is correct on the non-issue of animosity between the two during the primaries. Also par for the course, politics 101. BO would be foolish NOT to utilize Hillary in his admin, but I'm still interested in hearing opinions as to why she's a good fit for State. Anyone? Bueller?

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