Hillary: Hug or Slug it Out?

August 20, 2014 12:18 PM10 comments

Prior to the killing of 18-year old Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Missouri, the world was abuzz with Hillary Clinton’s disparaging comments in the Atlantic about President Barack Obama.

For example, she derided Obama’s foreign policy principle of, “Don’t do stupid stuff.” She also called his decision not to assist Syrian rebels at the beginning of their civil war as a “failure.”

I support Hillary Clinton and would like her to be the first woman president. I understand her need to differentiate herself from an unpopular president, particularly on foreign policy. But, why do it now – so far out from the election? I thought her comments were in poor form and bad taste. It was too soon and unnecessary. Hillary hasn’t even announced her candidacy – so there was no political need to kneecap the President when he’s vulnerable. Why not wait until 2015 to make such disparaging comments?

When Hillary doesn’t want to show her hand, she’s a world class pro at giving lame, insipid interviews to the media. This was a good moment for her to say the bare minimum and punt. There is a time and a place for her to assert her differences with Obama – but doing so now made it look like she was kicking him when he is down. If Hillary keeps this up, the President will endorse Joe Biden (or Elizabeth Warren). It won’t help Biden win – but it would certainly be a blow to Hillary’s momentum.
Obama has a closing window of opportunity until the media starts calling him a lame duck. What Hillary did was help Republicans in their efforts to prematurely slam that window shut. It was unbecoming and unworthy of a sophisticated woman and decorated public servant.

I could understand if a lesser-known candidate pulled this as a publicity stunt. But Hillary doesn’t need to do that. She can command media attention at any moment of her choosing. Hillary could refrain from saying another word for an entire year. She could stay holed up in her New York home with Bill, out of the public eye. And the moment she emerged from hibernation she would be the Democratic frontrunner. She would have a media entourage, oversaturating the airwaves with her sound bites.

So why become the center of attention now, when the president is engaged in a series of difficult foreign policy crises? His poll numbers have dipped and he has to deal with a very complicated, violent world. One, by the way, that she helped create with her vote to send troops into Iraq.

The President has to deal with naïve pacifists who oppose any intervention, and bloodthirsty warmongers, like Sen. John McCain, that seemingly want to bomb a new country each day. At this difficult and challenging juncture, Obama needs support, not sabotage – and friendly fire, really isn’t friendly at all.

Hillary tried to downplay the treachery by saying she would “hug it out.” But if you look at what she actually said, it seems she prefers to “slug it out.”

If she made the same comments next spring, I’d understand and support her. But, I just don’t think Hillary made a wise decision. It was premature and looked immature. As former Secretary of State, she has a stake in ensuring that this administration is successful, with a high Obama tide lifting her presidential boat. If Americans feel good about the direction of this country, it increases her chances of winning.

Furthermore, her policy prescriptions in Syria are questionable. She claims to have wanted to aid moderate rebels, but it remains unclear if genuine moderates were truly available for the United States to assist militarily. Many of these moderates were urban professionals, such as doctors and lawyers, with no military experience. This could have led to a disastrous situation where American weapons ended up in the hands of extremists. This is exactly what happened in Iraq, when the army abandoned its American-made weapons and they ended up in the hands of ISIS.

I also question the wisdom of Hillary’s book and subsequent tour – which opened her up to withering criticism and weakened her popularity so far out from the presidential election. She was already a household name, so why take the inherent risk of overexposure? I’m not sure whom her advisers are, but she needs to find new ones.

Hillary – I love you. But hold off on campaigning until 2015. In these challenging times, the President needs hugs, not slugs. Hopefully the pummeling she got during the book tour reminded her that the premature spotlight can be more searing than illuminating, and in politics the early bird runs the risk of looking like a worm.


Wayne Besen is a columnist and author of the book “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth.”




  • FallsChurchCitizen

    This is a pretty good advertisement for not electing Hillary. Left unsaid is why anyone should support someone with such a failure of a record. Is there one international relationship we have that’s better after her time as Secretary of State? I get it; “progressives” think it’s now time for the first woman President, irrespective of the quality of the candidate.

    • Exactly. It has to be the “first” of something for progressives to feel good about themselves. ANYTHING but another old white man! Who cares about experience, backbone, intelligence and love of country.

  • Hillary is the only one ready from day 1. Didn’t people learn the lesson than choosing inexperience from experience and common sense???????After Obama performance, the republicans are a shoe in to the presidency if Hillary is not the nominee.Her prestigious ,experience, intelligence and the admiration and respect she commands from most of the people, make her the only democrat who can be the next president.Forget about Biden or the Cherokee senator, HILLARY 2016!

    • Yes — she is ready from Day 1. She will make a great president. But, the interview was still a bad idea, as it undermined Obama at a time when he needs all the support he can get.

      • Wayne, is not Obama who needs our support; we the people need that he and all the elected officials work for us not against us as they are doing, including Obama. hillary is an incredible smart woman with an independent mind who can disagree with all the inexperienced people in this administration?Why can’t she say what she really thinks? She was loyal and silent when she served under BO, but she’s an american first before than a democrat! she has the right to not be a follower sheep as all of us are.I’m an american first and then a member of any party. Obama should serve us, not the other way around, don’t be confused. he’s making a lot of mistakes because the media and his employees make him believe he’s always right. HILLARY 2016!

  • How about this…. Hillary was right and Obama was wrong and now she no longer owes him blind loyalty and has a right and an obligation to tell the truth about what she thinks. As a grown woman with a mind of her own she has every reason in the world to do exactly what she is doing. Shame on you for suggesting otherwise.

    • Actually, I hold women to the same standard as men. It was wrong to give this interview regardless of the sex of the person who gave it,

  • I don’t agree that Hillary gives “lame insipid interviews”. I think she is thoughful and forthright in her interviews. Her policy perscriptions for Syria are unknown, unfortunately we won’t know if she was right or wrong because her view points were dismissed. I would like to request more articles supporting Hillary rather than dissing her, if you do, in fact, support her.

    • Nancy — I didn’t say that she ALWAYS gives lame, insipid interviews. I agree they are often thoughtful and insightful. But when she NEEDS to give ambiguous answers she does. This would have been a good opportunity to hold back the charm and punt. At the moment she enthusiastically has my vote. But, I wasn’t pleased by the way she handled this specific situation.

  • The article needs to be posted on the MSNBC website

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