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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Hillary Calls Obama To Make Peace Following Her Foreign Policy Criticism, While David Axelrod Slams Her

After an extraordinary public break with President Obama, Hillary Clinton phoned her ex-boss on Tuesday hoping to patch things up.

For good measure, she planned on “hugging it out” with the President at an A-list party Wednesday evening on Martha’s Vineyard.

Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said Clinton dialed up Obama to emphasize “that nothing she said was an attempt to attack him, his policies, or his leadership.”

“While they’ve had honest differences ... some are now choosing to hype those differences but they do not eclipse their broad agreement on most issues,” he said.

“Like any two friends who have to deal with the public eye, she looks forward to hugging it out when she they see each other tomorrow night."

The attempt at fence-mending came after she critiqued Obama’s foreign policy - and was tweet-slapped by Obama’s former political guru in return.

In an interview with The Atlantic, posted Sunday, Clinton suggested that Obama’s failure to support “moderate” rebels in Syia led to the growth of the violent Islamic extremism now sweeping northern Syria and Iraq.

She took aim at Obama’s foreign policy doctrine, saying, “Don’t do stupid stuff” is not an “organizing principle” for “great nations.”

David Axelrod, Obama’s former adviser, fired back Tuesday on Twitter.
"Just to clarify: 'Don't do stupid stuff' means stuff like occupying Iraq in the first place, which was a tragically bad decision," he wrote.

It was an apparent dig at Clinton's vote as a U.S. senator to authorize President George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq.

While Axelrod no longer works in the White House, he remains close to his former boss.The vote hurt Clinton's 2008 presidential bid and bolstered the campaign of Obama, a vocal opponent of the war. He became President - and named Clinton as his first secretary of state.
His shot at Clinton suggested Obama allies were simmering at Clinton's comments, which appeared aimed at bolstering her expected 2016 presidential candidacy at Obama's expense.
Some prominent liberals also took issue with her comments, raising the prospect that if she runs in 2016, she could have a problem with her party’s liberal wing, just as she did in 2008.
"Secretary Clinton ... should think long and hard before embracing the same policies advocated by right-wing war hawks that got America into Iraq in the first place and helped set the stage for Iraq's troubles today," said.

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Hillary The The Butcher of Benghazi, Clinton: 'Failure' to Help Syrian Rebels Led to the Rise of ISIS

The former secretary of state, and probable candidate for president, outlines her foreign-policy doctrine. She says this about President Obama's: "Great nations need organizing principles, and 'Don't do stupid stuff' is not an organizing principle."

Obama has long-ridiculed the idea that the U.S., early in the Syrian civil war, could have shaped the forces fighting the Assad regime, thereby stopping al Qaeda-inspired groups—like the one rampaging across Syria and Iraq today—from seizing control of the rebellion. In an interview in February, the president told me that “when you have a professional army ... fighting against a farmer, a carpenter, an engineer who started out as protesters and suddenly now see themselves in the midst of a civil conflict—the notion that we could have, in a clean way that didn’t commit U.S. military forces, changed the equation on the ground there was never true.”

Well, his former secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, isn’t buying it. In an interview with me earlier this week, she used her sharpest language yet to describe the "failure" that resulted from the decision to keep the U.S. on the sidelines during the first phase of the Syrian uprising.

“The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad—there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle—the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled,” Clinton said.

As she writes in her memoir of her State Department years, Hard Choices, she was an inside-the-administration advocate of doing more to help the Syrian rebellion. Now, her supporters argue, her position has been vindicated by recent events.

Professional Clinton-watchers (and there are battalions of them) have told me that it is only a matter of time before she makes a more forceful attempt to highlight her differences with the (unpopular) president she ran against, and then went on to serve. On a number of occasions during my interview with her, I got the sense that this effort is already underway. (And for what it's worth, I also think she may have told me that she’s running for president—see below for her not-entirely-ambiguous nod in that direction.)

Of course, Clinton had many kind words for the “incredibly intelligent” and “thoughtful” Obama, and she expressed sympathy and understanding for the devilishly complicated challenges he faces. But she also suggested that she finds his approach to foreign policy overly cautious, and she made the case that America needs a leader who believes that the country, despite its various missteps, is an indispensable force for good. At one point, I mentioned the slogan President Obama recently coined to describe his foreign-policy doctrine: “Don’t do stupid shit” (an expression often rendered as “Don’t do stupid stuff” in less-than-private encounters).

This is what Clinton said about Obama’s slogan: “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle.”

She softened the blow by noting that Obama was “trying to communicate to the American people that he’s not going to do something crazy,” but she repeatedly suggested that the U.S. sometimes appears to be withdrawing from the world stage.

During a discussion about the dangers of jihadism (a topic that has her “hepped-up," she told me moments after she greeted me at her office in New York) and of the sort of resurgent nationalism seen in Russia today, I noted that Americans are quite wary right now of international commitment-making. She responded by arguing that there is a happy medium between bellicose posturing (of the sort she associated with the George W. Bush administration) and its opposite, a focus on withdrawal.

“You know, when you’re down on yourself, and when you are hunkering down and pulling back, you’re not going to make any better decisions than when you were aggressively, belligerently putting yourself forward,” she said. “One issue is that we don’t even tell our own story very well these days.”

I responded by saying that I thought that “defeating fascism and communism is a pretty big deal.” In other words, that the U.S., on balance, has done a good job of advancing the cause of freedom.

Clinton responded to this idea with great enthusiasm: “That’s how I feel! Maybe this is old-fashioned.” And then she seemed to signal that, yes, indeed, she’s planning to run for president. “Okay, I feel that this might be an old-fashioned idea, but I’m about to find out, in more ways than one.”

She said that the resilience, and expansion, of Islamist terrorism means that the U.S. must develop an “overarching” strategy to confront it, and she equated this struggle to the one the U.S. waged against Soviet-led communism.

“One of the reasons why I worry about what’s happening in the Middle East right now is because of the breakout capacity of jihadist groups that can affect Europe, can affect the United States,” she said. “Jihadist groups are governing territory. They will never stay there, though. They are driven to expand. Their raison d’etre is to be against the West, against the Crusaders, against the fill-in-the-blank—and we all fit into one of these categories. How do we try to contain that? I’m thinking a lot about containment, deterrence, and defeat.”

She went on, “You know, we did a good job in containing the Soviet Union but we made a lot of mistakes, we supported really nasty guys, we did some things that we are not particularly proud of, from Latin America to Southeast Asia, but we did have a kind of overarching framework about what we were trying to do that did lead to the defeat of the Soviet Union and the collapse of Communism. That was our objective. We achieved it.” (This was one of those moments, by the way, when I was absolutely sure I wasn’t listening to President Obama, who is loath to discuss the threat of Islamist terrorism in such a sweeping manner.) 

Much of my conversation with Clinton focused on the Gaza war. She offered a vociferous defense of Israel, and of its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, as well. This is noteworthy because, as secretary of state, she spent a lot of time yelling at Netanyahu on the administration's behalf over Israel’s West Bank settlement policy. Now, she is leaving no daylight at all between the Israelis and herself.

“I think Israel did what it had to do to respond to the rockets,” she told me. “Israel has a right to defend itself. The steps Hamas has taken to embed rockets and command-and-control facilities and tunnel entrances in civilian areas, this makes a response by Israel difficult.”

I asked her if she believed that Israel had done enough to prevent the deaths of children and other innocent people.

 “[J]ust as we try to do in the United States and be as careful as possible in going after targets to avoid civilians,” mistakes are made, she said. “We’ve made them. I don’t know a nation, no matter what its values are—and I think that democratic nations have demonstrably better values in a conflict position—that hasn’t made errors, but ultimately the responsibility rests with Hamas.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Prime chance in Iowa for potential 2016 candidates

AMES, Iowa (AP) — The calendar says Iowa's presidential caucuses are more than a year away. But it's never too early for potential GOP presidential candidates in 2016 to court social conservatives in the early-voting state.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former caucus winners Rick Santorum (2012) and Mike Huckabee (2008) already have spent time in Iowa and were returning Saturday to address more than 1,000 evangelical voters at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames.
Christian conservative voters traditionally influence the caucuses because those activists tend to be organized and motivated to participate.
With a wide field of possible contenders, this group has not settled on a favored candidate.
Some potential candidates planned to skip the gathering.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul did tour the state this past week. But New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker have spent little time in Iowa.
Gov. Terry Branstad recently led an effort to install new leadership in the state party and to bring more traditional Republicans into the fold, in hopes of making the state more attractive to mainstream candidates.
But the expected turnout at the summit shows the faith vote remains powerful.
"The Christian community which is passionate about two issues — abortion and traditional marriage — they're going to come to the caucuses," said Jamie Johnson, a pastor from Stratford who served as an adviser to Santorum in 2012. "To ignore Christian conservatives in Iowa is to say 'I'm not interested in winning'."
For Huckabee, the next presidential election is a new opportunity for conservative Christians to be heard.
"I think it's important to motivate faith voters because a lot of them sat out the last election," said Huckabee, who has not decided whether he will run again. "It's not the only part of the constituency, but it's an important part."

Dead Broke Hillary Clinton cites trick to dealing with sexism: Not ‘feeling sorry for yourself’

Former Secretary of State and Democratic Party presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton told a women’s magazine that if her years of dealing with sexism have proven anything, it’s that the trick to dealing with it is to not wallow in self-pity.
“Now sometimes when it is about me … you have to not just remain silent but try to figure out a proper response — again, though, not going to the place of anger and feeling sorry for yourself, because that kind of plays into the hands of the sexists,” Mrs. Clinton said during an interview with Glamour magazine. “It does take practice though.”
Mrs. Clinton also said it took her years to learn the proper ways of dealing with sexists, Politico reported. For instance, she recalled how when she was taking the LSAT, a group of hecklers shouted at her: “You’re taking a place of a man who could maybe get drafted and die in Vietnam,” she said, Politico reported.
Mrs. Clinton said of that incident that “we’re in a much better place the we were,” but more must be done, Politico said. She also said that she usually declines to respond to personal attacks, but that she has in the past “responded if it’s about somebody else,” she said.

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