Friday, March 11, 2011

Is Hillary Preparing to Jump Ship?

Let’s make four plausible assumptions: (1) Hillary Clinton is an ambitious woman who’d still like to be president; (2) knowing this, Obama wouldn’t have offered her the job of Secretary of State without some impressive assurances that Bill Clinton wouldn’t be out and about promoting Hillary’s ambitions at Obama’s expense; (3) Bill is still an adroit political tactician who knows how to advance Hillary’s presidential ambitions when he wants to; and (4) Bill doesn’t publicly break ranks with Obama without Hillary’s consent.

In light of those assumptions, what do you make of this Daily Beast feature?
“Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been cautiously occupying the fence on whether the United States should help establish a no-fly zone over Libya—falling in line with Obama administration policy to build international consensus before deciding what to do.

“But the secretary’s husband, former president Bill Clinton, came out strongly Thursday night for the controversial military measure to help the Libyan rebels in their struggle to topple Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

“’We have the planes to make an appropriate contribution to this,’ the 42nd president told an influential dinner crowd attending Newsweek & The Daily Beast’s Women in the World summit at Manhattan’s Millennium Hotel. ‘I wouldn’t do it if they hadn’t asked,’ Clinton said, referring to anti-Gaddafi rebel leaders who have publicly and repeatedly requested the no-fly zone to stop bombardment from Gaddafi’s air force. ‘We should do it.’”
The idea that any spouse of a high-ranking administration official would stake out a position contrary to one for which the president's taking a lot of political heat is incredible on its face. Here, the spouse in question is Bill Clinton, the high-ranking official is Hillary Clinton, what Bill said had to be contrary to the informal agreement between Obama and Hillary and the forum in which Clinton disagreed so openly with Obama and the publicity about the disagreement was provided by an old Clinton crony like Tina Brown, the woman who just put Hillary on the cover of her first issue of Newsweek.  Under the circumstances, it takes a stronger man than I am not to conjure up tales of political intrigue. 

As a presidential candidate, Hillary sold herself as an iron lady who'd be tougher as commander-in-chief than any two men put together.  Has she decided that the time has come to start putting some distance between herself and her irresolute boss?


Dave said...

I'm not sure how plausible your 4th assumption is. Color me heavily influenced by just now having read "Game Change", which paints a picture of Bill as being a loose cannon throughout Hillary's campaign, and at the end of which Hillary comes right out and admits to Obama (when accepting the Secretary of State offer) that she can't control what Bill says.

So yes, I can see Bill Clinton going rogue with a statement like this. Not often, but sometimes.

Ron Replogle said...

Dave, if you're right about Bill's spouting off w/o Hillary's consent, I'd expect her to be out and about declaring that a no-fly-zone is dangerously premature, if only to honor the deal she must have made with Obama. Maybe I've missed it, but I haven't noticed her doing that. Have you?

Dave said...

I think it's smart politics for Obama & Hillary to not comment on what Bill said. First, the last thing they would want to do is draw attention to his remarks, amplifying this into a juicier story. Second, in rebutting Bill's position, the administration would likely find themselves in the uncomfortable position of needing to spell out what their own position is -- something they appear reluctant to do. Best just to let sleeping dogs lie.

This is all idle speculation, of course.