The Corner

Politics & Policy

Does America Really Believe Hillary’s a Hawk?

I enjoy reading the “Daily 202” at the Washington Post. It provides an often insightful and always interesting morning rundown of news and analysis, and while it’s obviously not written from a conservative perspective, I often find myself agreeing with the political analysis.

Not today, however. This morning’s edition declares that “Hillary’s hawkishness insulates her from Trump’s post-Orlando attacks,” claiming that Clinton “has spent more than a decade defining herself as tough and strong on national security.” While I agree that Hillary is more hawkish than President Obama — and she’s even sometimes more hawkish than Trump — I’m not sure that’s how people perceive her outside the Beltway and outside the Democratic party.

Hard-core progressives like to cast her as a virtual warmonger, but America’s recent experience with Hillary isn’t with the person who backed the Balkans interventions, the Afghan war, and the Iraq war. It’s with the woman who now says her Iraq vote was a mistake, facilitated the Iraq withdrawal, presided over a half-hearted air war in Libya (and then the Benghazi disaster), and proved ineffective as the Arab Spring drifted towards war and jihad.

In other words, she’s going to have real trouble separating herself from the weakness of the Obama administration — at least in the eyes of a significant number of Americans. Compounding the challenge, she’ll have problems with her suspicious progressive base if she tacks too far back towards her interventionist roots. In other words, she may have plans for dealing with ISIS and the Russians, but she will have to reckon with the fact that the threat grew immeasurably on her watch. Hawk or not, she failed. And that’s why she’ll remain vulnerable to Trump’s attacks — assuming he can make them effectively.

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