by Paul Smith
Lyndon Johnson once quipped of J. Edgar Hoover, “It’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in,” suggesting it better to assimilate your political enemies into your professional circle rather than have them working against you from the sidelines. And so it is that Hillary Clinton has become President-elect Obama’s nominee for Secretary of State.
As she went before confirmation from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 13th, one could not help but recall a few short months ago when she worked diligently to crush Obama’s executive branch aspirations in her cringe-worthy and shameless presidential campaign.
But rather than publically excoriate Clinton and send her packing back to the Senate, Obama chose to nominate her for one of the most powerful positions in his cabinet, fourth in the line of presidential succession. So, why would he do such a thing?
Perhaps he wishes to keep her inside that proverbial tent.
Granted, there were almost no substantial policy differences in Clinton’s campaign platform when compared with Obama’s. And, in reality, she will probably prove to be a marginally capable Secretary of State. But the relevant question remains: does she deserve the nomination?
Why award someone who appointed the odious Mark Penn as chief campaign strategist? Penn, the liberal poor man’s Karl Rove, ran Hillary’s campaign by attempting to portray Obama as a coke-snorting, Quran-reading radical who had been scheming to take over this country since Kindergarten. Can we really trust her judgment if she thought Penn was the best man for this job?
However, the main reason the sum of her character and judgment does not merit a nomination for Secretary of State concerns her vote in favor of the Iraq War Resolution of 2002.
Regardless of whether anyone thinks Iraq will someday emerge as a viable quasi-democratic state in the region (perhaps it will) or whether anyone believes that Saddam Hussein was a murderous world-class thug (which he was), the simple fact remains that the case the Bush administration presented to Congress, the American people and the world for justifying military action against Iraq was a blatant and grotesque fraud.
Equally egregious was the intellectual laziness Hillary displayed during consideration to cast her vote on the resolution. Ten days before the Senate was to vote, the administration released a classified report from the CIA to be read only by members of Congress. This 92-page National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) detailed the administration’s case against Saddam Hussein and was the most comprehensive and nuanced document summarizing the supporting intelligence. Guess who didn’t read the NIE?
Along with the majority of Senators, Hillary Clinton did not read the document. Even though during her floor speech in the Senate on October 10th, 2002, the morning of the vote, she proclaimed, “this is probably the hardest decision I have ever had to make,” and even though during the same speech she suggested the evidence against Hussein was “undisputed,” the fact remains she did not even read the most pertinent document available to make such a decision.
And she really should have read it, because a befuddled preschooler could have glanced at that NIE during the commercial breaks of Blue’s Clues and easily surmised, “Wow, this is a bunch of bull.”
This document presenting the “best case” for war was riddled with numerous dubious claims from single sources, while dissenting evidence and analysis was intentionally omitted. Virtually every major conclusion of the NIE has since been discredited.
When it came to the “hardest decision” of Senator Clinton’s life, she failed to do the proper homework. Obama should not have awarded her intellectual incuriosity in the matter of war with a cabinet position.
Her judgment and resolve renders her undeserving to become what is essentially the nation’s chief diplomat and foremost foreign policy advisor to the president.
And Obama should consider anyone who voted in favor of the Iraq War Resolution as unfit for any position concerning the national security or foreign policy of this country.
But what’s done is done. Hillary will effortlessly sail through the nomination process and become the next Secretary of State. Let us just hope she does not taint this country while performing the duties of her new position. And let us hope she will have the foresight to do the proper homework when the situation warrants it.
Otherwise we may all end up standing in a puddle of urine.