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Guest Viewpoints

Is President Obama Hillary Clinton’s Friend or Foe?

In this column about one month ago, I was quite critical of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regarding her rather disingenuous “disambiguation” of the Reset Strategy vis-a-vis Russia (that it was aimed at Vladimir Putin’s predecessor rather than at President Putin himself).

Then, in my last column, I lamented the analysis paralysis that led President Barack Obama to miss an opportunity in late 2012 and early 2013 to support the moderate Syrian opposition, thus giving breathing room for the roots of ISIS to take hold.

Little did I know that Secretary Clinton would give an interview a few days thereafter lamenting the exact same development – but also ascribing this “failure” to the administration she had served and, by implication, to President Obama.

In the same interview in The Atlantic, she also threw some jabs at the President’s modus operandi, arguing, essentially, that “don’t do stupid stuff” does not a foreign policy doctrine make.

Needless to say, the former Secretary of State is correct in her statements. What startles me, however, and what I think the public will eventually consider tone-deaf, is how easily she distances herself from the president she served, even if her comments are more nuanced (aka hedged) than their accusatory highlights.

Of course she has every right, within national security limits, to delineate her differences with President Obama. But was it not her responsibility to articulate a sound foreign policy strategy to him? Did she just fail to convince him?

What exactly happened? If she had deep disagreements with the final decision-making, why didn’t she arrange her exit earlier on in her tenure? Exactly what blame does she in fact accept for the current state of foreign affairs?

These are profound questions that need to be addressed by someone who is seeking the presidency, especially someone who is going to inherit issues that she is partially responsible for.

Following this much-deciphered interview, one of Secretary Clinton’s aides said that she and President Obama would “hug it out” at an event they were both due to attend in Martha’s Vineyard.

Personally, I find the suggestion that someone can “hug it out” with the president of the United States insulting and somewhat disrespectful both to the individual and to the office. And this takes us back to that other interview, the 60 Minutes interview, which Secretary Clinton and President Obama jointly gave.

As you may recall, the praise was lavish – bilaterally. I think the public deserves to know: what exactly is the arrangement between the Clintons and President Obama?

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