Obama: The Clinton Fix is In!

Cross-posted at the Francis L. Holland Blog.

If you look at all of the Clinton appointees who are now assisting President-elect Obama (including Rep. Rahm Emmanuel as chief of staff) it's pretty obvious that President-elect Obama doesn't want to reinvent the wheel of national governance.  He wants experienced hands from when the economy was good and the US was at peace with the world, i.e. from the Clinton Administration.

When you look at it this way, appointing Sen. Hillary Clinton as secretary of state makes perfect sense:  The world was at peace when her husband was president, and it will probably soon be at peace again with Hillary as secretary of state, to the extent that it's at all possible.

Yes, she voted for IWR, because she is a political pragmatist and thought tacking to the right would help her at the polls, and maybe even with the Jewish vote.  She might also be more pro-Isreal as secretary of state than some others whom Obama might appoint, like Gov. Bill Richardson.  Or her positioning during the primaries might have been part of a misguided belief that hawkishness would be more successful in the American context, a belief for which she cannot be blamed after George W. Bush twice found his way to the Oval Office.

To understand what's going on right now in the transition and the formation of the Obama Administration, we all have to realize that Obama's "change" message was both:

  • (1) a way to distinguish himself favorably from an older and better-known politician with some well-known baggage(Hillary Clinton) and thereby win the Democratic nomination, while also
  • (2) seamlessly transitioning into the General Election and distinguishing himself from the current Republican Administration and its desired third term, to wit George W. Bush and John McCain respectively.
As the economy tanked, the change message became even more urgent.  But no one should imagine that "change" meant a rejection of everything Clinton.  Anyone who has read "The Audacity of Hope" knows that Obama wrote favorably about many aspects of Clintonism, while also learning from its excesses and failures.  During the nomination campaign, the only thing Obama specifically said he wanted to change about the Clinton approach was the ideological battles that he said were rooted in older generations' disputes about Vietnam.

Can anyone remember anything else that Obama said he would change vis a vis how things were done under Clinton?

Obama is not going to be Bill Clinton, obviously.   And Hillary Clinton will never again be the First Lady.  However, everything that was good about the Clinton Administration (peace and economic growth) will be repeated under Obama, making use of the best and most experienced Clinton hands to get going immediately on "change".  This may well include bringing in Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, to lead the "peace" part of the equation.

Who knows?  It might even include a US Supreme Court seat for Hillary or Bill Clinton.

Tags: clinton, obama (all tags)

Comments

39 Comments

Rule #1

Don't mess with success.

The Clinton administration worked because its leader was well-schooled in all policy areas and he was a diligent, hard-working public servant. The differences between that and the current administration are obvious.

Second, Bill Clinton hired the most brilliant, effective people he could find to run the government. His cabinet was diverse, but not for its own sake. He made sure that every person in his Cabinet was qualified to do the job and had proven excellence in his/her previous endeavors.

That Barack Obama is "lifting" some of those people is testimony to his desire for a government that works and signals his intent to fix what Bush has broken.

If Hillary accepts his offer and becomes SoS, that's more icing on the cake. She has the bona fides to repair the damage that Bush has done to our international reputation. I sincerely hope she does for that reason and for the fact that, if she is as successful as I predict, it could propel her to front-runner status for the 2016 presidential election.

by Spiffarino 2008-11-15 08:00AM | 0 recs
One correction

Hillary was clear about her vote for war authorization from the get go, and she has been consistent.  

You have to remember what was going on, in June Condi had said in England that the decision to invade had been made and that bush needed no more authority, as it was covered in the language of the first one.  I expected the invasion to take place and that nothing could stop him.

Then I was surprised to find that the Senate was going to vote on it, and I thought they'd defeat it, but that that would not stop him, based on Condi's logic.

when the bill was passed I had some hope. It required inspectors everywhere and a turn over of all documentation, and since I thought it was more than unlikely that Saddam had any WMD left from the old days when much had been destroyed and that nation was living with crippling sanctions that left many vulnerable Iraqi's without enough food and medicine to survive.

I thought it would be up to Saddam, and he opened his palaces and turned over the documents.   Thus, had the authorization been used as sold, we would have 'won' without any blood spilled.  Bill Clinton, in an interview I think on CNN spoke against  pulling out the inspectors before they'd completed the search, and said that if we invade and it turns out the rationale was faulty, we could not bring the dead people back to life.  

Hillary was never a cheerleader for war, as was John Edwards, not did she waver from caution.

Now, since I knew there were no WMD I assume rather many in power knew the 'evidence' wasn't evidence of anything.  Her vote was for inspectors, which is why she hasn't apologized.

Everyone jumped on her when it happened, thinking she voted for her political future. But that's what she always gets, the worst  possible motives are attributed to her and then it's received wisdom, what "everybody knows."  

It's clear to me that she tried to stop the invasion and that she did not take into account how obsessed George was in using the military to carry out private revenge and neo-con delusions. Had she she might have voted for her political future by voting against it, knowing how things could easily turn out. But, I think she'd have taken the chance anyway, it was worth it to stop Bush and nothing else would have stopped him either.  

by anna shane 2008-11-15 08:03AM | 0 recs
Re: One correction

I tend to agree that Hillary was hoodwinked, as were many of the Senators who signed on to the IWR. I still believe there was an element of pragmatism in her vote, but I don't necessarily fault her for it given the mood of the NY electorate at the time. She's no fool and let's face it, you can't fix anything if you don't win.

What she voted for was authorization to go to war, not war itself. The administration distorted facts and outright lied about everything else, especially about its desire to achieve its ends through peaceful means. To paraphrase Mary McCarthy, we all know now that every word out of Bush's mouth is a lie, including "and" and "the."

by Spiffarino 2008-11-15 09:07AM | 0 recs
Re: One correction

that's okay as long as you see it as your opinion and not as a fact.  But the big point for me is that she tried to stop him and that she knew there were no WMD (or thought it so unlikely that she was ready to take the risk to find out for sure).  So, if Bush had not lied those who voted for inspections would have been the heroes who stopped a war from taking place. she tried, and i admire her for that.  And she never apologized, the easy political response made popular by her husband, she didn't vote for war, she tried to avert war, and she failed.  And then she went to work trying to help our troops and our vets, and their families who were left at home.

by anna shane 2008-11-15 02:29PM | 0 recs
Re: One correction

What could it be other than an opinion? Hillary never said as much and nobody close to her has said she said as much.

Again, I don't fault her for it whether it was pragmatic or otherwise. The point is, the IWR was a set up from the beginning and few in the Senate knew the extent to which Bush intended to use it as justification to start dropping bombs and deploying troops.

Which leads me to another thought...why, after all the lies and deceit, would Congress give Bush a blank check for $700 billion and then act surprised when he doesn't do what he said he would with the money? Are they really that credulous?

by Spiffarino 2008-11-15 10:48PM | 0 recs
Re: One correction

Her vote was for inspectors, which is why she hasn't apologized.

If this is a true statement of reality, then I am even more concerned about Hillary as SOS, for it displays a catastrophic level of denial and belief.

Between believing a thing and thinking you know is only a small step and quickly taken.

- Mark Twain, 3,000 Years Among the Microbes

by Sully Fick 2008-11-15 09:34AM | 0 recs
Re: One correction

and i think the opposite, perhaps because I was following it and believed no one could stop him.  I thought the best chance we had was to require a demand for inspections first in that bill, Bush was ready to start in December, he had the troops in place, he'd wanted to do it well before summer.  Bush may actually have believed there were WMD. Hillary never said she believed that.  when you have a nut case like bush and somehow the people think he's god and war is good (do you remember freedom fries, how much blood lust there was here, like 90 percent of the people backed it at that time) there had to be a clear showing that there were no WMD and she delayed the invasion by negotiating that into the bill. If she hadn't, it would have stated sooner and there would have been no chance to avert it, to stop Bush.  

So, we had a despot, a monarch, and we had a blood lusty population ready to believe Saddam was behind 9/11, how would you have stopped bush were you a senator at that time.  Since you think this disqualifies her, what would you have done?  

by anna shane 2008-11-15 02:24PM | 0 recs
Re: One correction

Voted no?  Every picture tells a story.  A majority of House Democrats opposed this measure at the time, an opposing Democratic majority in the Senate may have changed the perception of the 'legitimacy' of unilateral military action of the 'shock and awe' variety irrespective of the measure passing in both houses:


by Shaun Appleby 2008-11-15 02:43PM | 0 recs
Re: One correction

It's even worse than that, in some ways.

If you look at the votes compared to who read the NIE, it's even starker.

In the Senate, 23% voted against the amendment, and 42% of Democrats voted against.

But, for those who read the NIE, 71% of Democrats voted against the AUMF.

by Sully Fick 2008-11-15 03:37PM | 0 recs
Re: One correction

I agree.  It's important to resist at least the first waves of revisionism.  And deserving of gratitude from those of us who don't want to fail to learn the lessons of history.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-11-15 04:07PM | 0 recs
Re: One correction

perhaps, but if she knew the stuff wasn't credible, and her advisors told her that, and she expected as Condi reported that Bush was going to do it, then voting for inspectors to show there were no WMD seems like the only choice. She wasn't the only one, there were others who agreed to vote for it with the proviso that Saddam would first get a chance to open his palaces and produce the documentation, which he did. We even know that Saddam agreed to go into exile, according to the Spaniards after they're enabling government lost the election, and bush, who'd said that was also a way for Saddam to avoid invasion, refused this way out too.  He was going to do it and no proof was going to stop him.  

by anna shane 2008-11-15 09:43PM | 0 recs
Re: One correction

Perhaps not worth revisiting this issue just now but Scott Ritter and Hans Blix were giving us some pretty clear indications that something was amiss well before the vote, and long before the invasion.  And there's the unread NIE down the hall to consider.  Let's get into this sometime after the dust has settled a bit, eh?

by Shaun Appleby 2008-11-15 10:19PM | 0 recs
Re: One correction

I don't really have the time to answer such an important question, and I doubt my answers would sway you, in any case.

However, some important points:

1.  Her 2002 Senate speech on her support for the AUMF begins:

Today we are asked whether to give the President of the United States authority to use force in Iraq should diplomatic efforts fail to dismantle Saddam Hussein's chemical and biological weapons and his nuclear program.

At the time, she believed that Saddam had chemical and biological weapons, and a nuclear program.

Now, since then, she has repeatedly stated that she performed her own due diligence about this:

I did a lot of my own due diligence, I talked to a lot of people in my husband's administration, I talked to Tony Blair, I talked to a lot of sources, and I had the same question: Do you think he still has these kinds of capacities? And the rationale made sense to me. When we got there after the first Gulf War, he was much further advanced in his nuclear program and we knew he had used chemical weapons.

But, somehow, in all of this, she decided not to look at the evidence (the National Intelligence Estimate) herself.  The full NIE stated that there was no intelligence consensus on WMDs in Iraq.

2.  She also made bogus arguments:

Unlike nearly all of her fellow Democrats, she even went so far as to argue that Saddam Hussein gave assistance to Al Qaeda members.

I think we all know about this fictional relationship.

3.  You can see her say things like in this Code Pink meeting (video) where she said that she:

ended up voting for the resolution after carefully reviewing the information and intelligence that I had available.

When a Code Pink member challenged her on the reason for war, saying "it is not up to this government to disarm Saddam Hussein, it's up to the community of nations", Clinton responded:

With respect to whose responsibility it is to disarm Saddam Hussein, I just do not believe that, given the attitudes of many people in the world community today, that there would be a willingness to take on very difficult problems, were it not for the United States' leadership. And I'm talking specifically about what had to be done in Bosnia and Kosovo, where my husband could not get a Security Council resolution to save the Kosovar Albanians from ethnic cleansing. And we did it alone as the United States, and we had to do it alone. It would have been far preferable if the Russians and others had agreed to do it through the United Nations. They would not. I'm happy that in the face of such horrible suffering we did act.

And so I see it somewhat differently - you'll forgive me - from my experience and perspective.

So, she compares a real human rights case in Bosnia and Kosovo with an alleged pursuit of WMDs as her argument for war.

4.  During the New Hampshire primary, in her interview with the Concord Monitor, she said:

In `98, [Saddam] threw the inspectors out, which at least to me raised the possibility that they were getting close to something, and therefore he wanted them out.

But this wasn't the case.

UNSCOM weapons inspectors were not expelled by Iraq as has often been reported. Rather, according to Richard Butler himself, it was U.S. Ambassador Peter Burleigh, acting on instructions from Washington, who suggested Butler pull his team from Iraq in order to protect them from the forthcoming U.S. and British air strikes...

I don't have time to look up other examples, but there are many.

Forgive me, but there has been far too much revisionist history in regards to Clinton and the reasons she was pro-Iraq-War (and still is pro-war).

by Sully Fick 2008-11-15 03:04PM | 0 recs
Re: One correction

those are damning quotes, and yet, they can be seen as a real stick and a real carrot. She talked tough, but had the inspectors been allowed to finish the job there would have been no war.  

by anna shane 2008-11-15 09:46PM | 0 recs
No comfort for me...

I see far too many similarities to feel any comfort about these examples.

Bush is profoundly incurious.  He didn't read (or didn't listen to) the August PDB.  Similarly, Clinton didn't read (or didn't listen to) the NIE.

Bush (and cronies) pushed the lie that Saddam had ties to Al Queda.  Almost no Democrats pushed this lie, except for Clinton.

When necessary, Clinton changed her reasons for war from inspections to "I just do not believe that, given the attitudes of many people in the world community today, that there would be a willingness to take on very difficult problems, were it not for the United States' leadership."

As time went on, Clinton revised history from her husband's presidency with more lies: "In `98, [Saddam] threw the inspectors out, which at least to me raised the possibility that they were getting close to something, and therefore he wanted them out."

All of this is the same things that Bush & co. used in the run up to war.  Don't read the intelligence.  If you do, and it doesn't agree with your intention, then ignore it.  Make scary connections that don't exist.  Change your reasons for war if your first reasons aren't working.  As time goes on, revise history to make things look even scarier than they were.

I don't blame Clinton exclusively for this.  I blame everyone in Congress.  But, I reserve my caustic ire for the Democrats.  They could have stopped it, but didn't.  Leadership was in very short supply at the time.

The political and commercial morals of the United States are not merely food for laughter, they are an entire banquet.

- Mark Twain, Mark Twain in Eruption

by Sully Fick 2008-11-16 04:03AM | 0 recs
Re: No comfort for me...

I don't think they could have stopped this. I would have liked them to go on a hunger strike, or quit their jobs en masse, or something that showed how powerless they all were to stop him. I saw no way, from back in June, when i was in France and Condi's comments from England about how the decision had been made, and it was only that vote that gave me any small hope that Bush could be stopped.  

There were different reactions, some came out strongly against it and I applauded them, back then the war idea was popular and they took personal hits for their position. And some, like Edwards, acted like they were behind it, with no realization that this could not be accomplished even were it a good idea in the first place. And some like Hillary, who was trying to walk the tightrope and back the idea of force in principal, while trying to slow it down and try to stop it.  None of it worked, we have a very terrible president, for a few more weeks, and he was 'the decider.'  How we survived him, I don't know. I was sure he'd bomb Iran too.  He pushed the Israelis into some boneheaded and deadly moves to, that didn't meet any rational objective.  It's been a nightmare.  And now there is much that needs to be reversed and corrected, but, we can't bring the dead people back to life, it's a tragedy.  

by anna shane 2008-11-18 03:18PM | 0 recs
Re: No comfort for me...

It is precisely the equivocating and "walking the tightrope" that give me the greatest concern.  In my opinion, she should NOT have backed the idea of force in principle if she was/is "dovish" on foreign policy.

At the time, there were very few who spoke the real truth.

Here's one:

Both in terms of the justifications for an invasion and in terms of the mission and the plan for the invasion, Mr. President, the Administration's arguments just don't add up. They don't add up to a coherent basis for a new major war in the middle of our current challenging fight against the terrorism of al Qaeda and related organizations. Therefore, I cannot support the resolution for the use of force before us.

My colleagues, my focus today is on the wisdom of this specific resolution vis-a-vis Iraq, as opposed to discussing the notion of an expanded doctrine of preemption, which the President has articulated on several occasions. However, I associate myself with the concerns eloquently raised by Senator Kennedy and Senator Byrd and others that this could well represent a disturbing change in our overall foreign and military policy. This includes grave concerns about what such a preemption-plus policy will do to our relationship with our allies, to our national security, and to the cause of world peace in so many regions of the world, where such a doctrine could trigger very dangerous actions with really very minimal justification.

- Senator Russ Feingold

Clinton never tried to be a leader during the early drumbeat to war.  She went along with the majority (and the neo-cons!).  That doesn't inspire confidence.  She could have come out strongly against the war and tried to use the media against Bush.  She could have spoken eloquently against the war (like Kennedy, Byrd and Feingold), but she chose not to.

I really don't understand how you try to stop a war by supporting the idea in principle.

by Sully Fick 2008-11-24 10:57AM | 0 recs
supreme court

When Obama chooses supreme court justices, I would hope he doesn't nominate people in their 60s. We need guys/gals that are in their late 40s, early 50s at most.

by highgrade 2008-11-15 09:26AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Clinton Fix is In!

"The world was at peace when her husband was president"

Um, Bosnia. Kosovo. Rwanda. Chechnya.

Different parts of the world were at peace when her husband was president. What's this "world at peace" fantasy you're talking about?

There has never been a single year of world at peace as far as I know in the history of history.

by Aris Katsaris2 2008-11-15 09:38AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Clinton Fix is In!

I think the author meant that the world was relatively at peace, especially compared to where we are now. The Clinton years are considered a time of peace and prosperity in the United States.

by dtaylor3 2008-11-15 09:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Clinton Fix is In!

Well, the United States were more at peace then than now, certainly. Not the world though.

by Aris Katsaris2 2008-11-15 11:33AM | 0 recs
world != US

by lolo08 2008-11-15 02:24PM | 0 recs
compared to now

it was. Bill Clinton brought peace to Kosovo and Bosnia, and routinely gets the credit he deserves for that. He likely would have done Rwanda except during 1994, a mid year election year, that the GOP was gonna let him have any military authority by letting him go to Rawnda? Or the Dems, who sunk their own party's health care plan? One thing for sure, Bill Clinton never invaded Iraq or Afghanistan. Things like 9/11 were prevented under his watch.

by Lakrosse 2008-11-15 01:06PM | 0 recs
Re: compared to now

The Clinton foreign policy legacy is generally good but it has it's ups and downs.  Somlia was clearly an inheritance from the previous Bush administration but the future of humanitarian intervention and US/UN co-operation was adversely affected by the unfortunate outcomes there:


The allegation that the United Nations greatly broadened the mission the United States had outlined is simply not true. In fact, all the major Security Council resolutions on Somalia, including the nation-building" resolution, were written by U.S. officials, mainly in the Pentagon, and handed to the United Nations as faits accomplis. Only after the October 1993 firefight did the United States try to wash its hands of an operation that it had started and almost entirely directed. As one international civil servant said, the United Nations was "seduced and then abandoned" by the United States.

Clarke, Walter, Herbst and Jeffrey Somalia and the future of humanitarian intervention Foreign Affairs Mar/Apr 1996

An understanding of why the US failed to intervene in Rwanda need look no further than the mission in Somalia.

by Shaun Appleby 2008-11-15 01:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Clinton Fix is In!

Bill Clinton set the table for Bush and the PNACs to have their Iraq War.

1. Clinton bombed countries liberally and without authorization by the UN Security Council. Without these precedents it would have been harder for Bush to invade Iraq.

  1. Clinton went along with the sham that Iraq was a threat and regime change was a good idea.
  2. Clinton seemed to endorse Bush taking military action against Iraq in 2003.

Democrats are far too forgiving of Clinton's fucked-up foreign policy.

by Carl Nyberg 2008-11-15 01:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Clinton Fix is In!

Umm, are you a fucking idiot?

Are you saying Hillary voted for an invasion for political reasons?  She willingly led soldiers and Iraqis to their death so she could gain some "tacking" to the right and help in the polls?

You should see a doctor if you think it is acceptable, maybe comendable, to vote for wars and death for political reasons, that is a serious disorder you've got

by KLRinLA 2008-11-15 11:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Clinton Fix is In!

You should hang out at dKos more. Definately more your style.

by phoenixdreamz 2008-11-15 11:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Clinton Fix is In!

Yeah, those evil jerks over at Dkos don't like wasting lives on political expedience.  How evil of them.

by lockewasright 2008-11-15 12:55PM | 0 recs
Re: Yet they seem OK

with Joe Biden and John Kerry, who voted as Hillary did.  And they don't complain much about the dems who have continued to vote in favor of funding the war, which is obviously also an act of political expedience.  They seem to me very selective in their criticism.  

by half nelson 2008-11-15 01:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Yet they seem OK

Care to show me the part where I said that I was ok with John Kerry and Joe Biden's votes?  Your comment amounts to idiotic sour grapes.  Your candidate lost. Get over yourself.  She has.

by lockewasright 2008-11-15 03:43PM | 0 recs
Re: You were talking about kos

and so was I.  I find their ready acceptance of Biden somewhat at odds with their professed outrage over Clinton's vote.

And in fact, the candidate that I voted for won.  However, I have no intention of "getting over" the behavior of certain so-called progessives and other assorted hypocrites during this election.  I have every intention of whining, kvetching or what you will, at every opportunity.  Call it whatever you want.  

by half nelson 2008-11-15 04:25PM | 0 recs
Re: You were talking about kos

so are you suggesting that Hillary voted for AUMF for political reasons?  And if so, is that ok with you?  I am pretty sure Hillary would say no to both of these

by KLRinLA 2008-11-15 04:50PM | 0 recs
Re: You were talking about kos

Yeah, my 3 year old son reserves the right to throw himself on the floor and scream until his nose is all runny and his voice is hoarse.  That too is quite the regal display.

We're ok with Biden, not his vote.  He's acknowledged it was a mistake, taken ownership for that and we've gotten over it... like grown ups.

by lockewasright 2008-11-15 05:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Clinton Fix is In!

Let me explain it to you, I was defending Hillary.  

That line in the diary that profoundly offended me should offend any supporter of HIllary.  I find it extremly Ironic that no other HIllary lovers on this site aren't exploding at the site of that libelous accustation.  
And for the record I agree with some of this diary.  
Think about it a little more, you'll get it

by KLRinLA 2008-11-15 04:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Clinton Fix is In!

"sight" not site

by KLRinLA 2008-11-15 04:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Clinton Fix is In!

Are you saying political calculation was not possibly at the forefront of HRC's decision-making process on the IWR?

My take is that domestic political considerations drove the votes of 85+% of Congress.

Dick Durbin was one of the only Senators who bothered to read the raw intelligence, which was classified. Since it was classified they had to physically sign-in to read it.

Most of the Congress didn't even bother to read the fucking intelligence that was available. If they weren't reading the report, what were members of Congress basing their decisions on?

They were deciding based on media hype and domestic political calculations.

by Carl Nyberg 2008-11-15 01:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama: The Clinton Fix is In!

I would hope not.  Being dupped and lied to isnt the same as voting for a war to look cool for the chicken hawk wing of our party.  

And yes, I realize that many didn't read the intelligence, that is not my point.  I take issue with the fact that this so called Hillary supporter is just throwing out a "it's understandble that she voted for the war for political purposes."  Something like that should never be understandable and I'd like to think Hillary herself would never do something like that.  Funny how some strong HRC supporters here are trashing her without even realizing it

by KLRinLA 2008-11-15 04:41PM | 0 recs
HRC believes in a strong executive branch

I would oppose her for SCOTUS.

However, I can see why a Dem POTUS would want her on SCOTUS.

by Carl Nyberg 2008-11-15 01:33PM | 0 recs
Case closed:

Yes, she voted for IWR, because she is a political pragmatist and thought tacking to the right would help her at the polls, and maybe even with the Jewish vote.  

The rest of the diary doesn't even need to be read, after that, does it?

by Dumbo 2008-11-15 03:53PM | 0 recs

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