September 21, 2009
Hillary's Humble Pie
Hillary Clinton has become almost a sad figure, an outsider to a White House dominated by insiders, a cabinet secretary in the era of czars. Now, it seems that Hillary's own history is repeating itself.
Wags wondered why Hillary endured her philandering husband. The conclusion: she wished to leverage her relationship with the President to empower herself (she became a Senator). This time with President Obama? She seems to be falling on the sword to protect the image of President Obama.
Barack Obama, as more and more people are noticing, has an aversion to ever admitting he was wrong -- or anything less than brilliant. (Maybe that is why he refuses to release his college and law school transcripts).
Over several months, the administration has led the diplomatic equivalent of a jihad against Israel. In addition to giving a virtual pass on Iran's nuclear program, the Obama team has focused on trying to abrogate and deny the validity of a series of agreements made with the Israelis over the years regarding the settlements ringing Jerusalem and dotting the West Bank. Obama has made clear his view of these settlements, and demanded Israel halt even natural growth (that would accommodate babies, for example, but would not expand the footprint) as a quid pro quo to his pressuring Iran.
Secretary of State Clinton has made a series of sharp statements over the last few months denying that there was any "enforceable agreement" between America and Israel regarding settlements. Her minions at the State Department have backed her up. Rick Richmann has done admirable work to disprove their absurd claim, as has Eliot Abrams and others who were in fact involved in negotiations between America and Israel.
The end result has been a disaster for diplomacy.
The Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas has refused to negotiate with the Israelis, admitting he was playing a waiting game expecting Obama to follow up and deliver Israel on a silver platter to him. The Israelis have rallied to Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and almost universally consider Barack Obama not to be an ally of Israel. A man who unilaterally and willfully breaks a pledge of America's is not one that can be trusted should Israel be asked to continue its series of concessions to the Arab world.
The result: stalemate.
So how to repair the damage and burnish the image of Obama as the man who never makes mistakes?
Make Hillary accept blame for all the policy missteps President Obama has made over the last few months on this issue. In an interview with the Washington Post (the forum where politicians go to spin a story) Clinton now concedes that her public call for a freeze may have unintentionally locked the administration into a policy to which it was not fully committed. Uh-huh. This issue has been festering for months with no clarifications, rejections, rewrites, corrections, yet alone apologies from anyone in the administration -- including President Obama. In fact, they were not silent during Clinton's hectoring (silence itself would have been affirmation) but joined the effort to pressure Israel.
The President was behind this policy: he is the commander in chief, after all. The Secretary of State merely follows his orders and his policies. Only the most credulous would accept Hillary Clinton's sudden mea culpa.
Clearly what has transpired is that Obama's obsessive-compulsive disorder regarding settlements has come up a cropper and caused damage -- making peace far less likely than before and reflecting poorly on Obama's vaunted temperament and brilliance.
What to do? Make Hillary accept the blame. She will do so to ingratiate herself with Obama and be accepted as a team player. She has been out of the loop since Day One and this may help her gain points with the point-keeper in the Oval Office. Somewhat demeaning, but people like their titles in Washington.
This also reflects poorly on the President.
ABC's Jake Tapper has noted Obama has a nasty penchant for always blaming his mistakes on staffers. The buck does not stop at his desk; he would rather blame others and make them eat crow.
Hillary has eaten crow. It was not the first time, and it will not be the last time.
Ed Lasky is news editor of American Thinker.