In what promises to be an odd get together Hillary Clinton and Former President Bill Clinton will attend the same party on Wednesday, Aug. 14 as President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama in Martha's Vineyard only days after Clinton's interview was published in Atlantic criticizing and distancing herself from Obama's foreign policy a head of a second potential and presumed run for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2016. Clinton issued a statement on Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014 saying she did not mean to attack Obama and "looks forward to hugging it out when they see each other tomorrow night."
Both the Clintons and Obama will be attending a party in Ann Jordan's honor for her 80th birthday at the Farm Neck Golf Club. Ann Jordan is married to Vernon Jordan, a former Clinton advisor, while Ann is Obama advisor Valerie Jarett's cousin. Earlier in the day Clinton will be making book tour stop at "Bunch of Grapes bookstore in Vineyard Haven," where she will be signing copies of her memoir "Hard Choices."
A White House official released the information to the press that President Obama and First Lady Michelle were attending the same party; "The president and first lady have accepted an offer to attend a social gathering at the home of Vernon Jordan on Wednesday evening. The president and first lady are very much looking forward to the occasion and seeing former secretary Clinton."
In an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg published in the Atlantic. Clinton's Obama former first-term Secretary of State criticized the president blaming his decision not to arm Syrian rebels fighting against President Bashar al-Assad as the reason behind the "rise" of ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the "al Qaeda offshoot" and militant group that has taken over and is terrorizing Iraq.
Their actions have prompted Obama to militarily intervene again in Iraq with targeted airstrikes which he announced on Thursday evening, Aug. 8. Ironically Clinton was Secretary of State at the time Obama made that decision to not arm Syrian rebels. In the interview Clinton stated; "The failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad-there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle-the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled."
A week before Clinton's interview was even published on Thursday, July 31, 2014 President Obama called possibly arming Syrian rebels as a strategy that could have prevented the rise of ISIS as "horsesh*t" at a bipartisan White House meeting with House and Senate leaders according a Daily Beast exclusive. Obama in anger said the expletive while answering Sen. Bob Corker, R-TN. The White House is denying the language Obama used in the exchanged. Still it shows how much of a break Clinton's comment could have between the two opponents who became friends and even had White House lunches after Clinton retired as Secretary of State. President Obama seemed to even praise and favor Clinton as possible presidential successor rather than even his own Vice President Joe Biden who also considering his third presidential run in 2016.
Clinton also summed up Obama's foreign policy as "don't do stupid stuff," criticizing the philosophy telling Goldberg, "Great nations need organizing principles, and 'Don't do stupid stuff' is not an organizing principle. It may be a necessary brake on the actions you might take in order to promote a vision." The comment resulted in a reaction from the president's former political adviser David Axelrod took to Twitter, in a response reminiscent of the 2008 presidential campaign; "'Don't do stupid stuff' means stuff like occupying Iraq in the first place, which was a tragically bad decision."
Clinton aimed also to gain support from Jewish voters who are increasingly finding Republican and conservative staunch support of Israel appealing. Clinton defended Israel's military decisions particularly the most recent incursion Operation Protective Edge in Gaza and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, expressing; "I think Israel did what it had to do to respond to the (Hamas) rockets. Israel has a right to defend itself. The steps Hamas has taken to embed rockets and command and control facilities and tunnel entrances in civilian areas, this makes a response by Israel difficult." President Obama and present Secretary of State John Kerry have been critical of Gaza civilian casualties, and Netanyahu's policy towards Palestinians in general.
Although Clinton has not made any formal announcement and has only alluded to thinking about running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, her book tour for her memoir as Secretary of State "Hard Choices" has been considered a pre-campaign tour. The book is a New York Times bestseller, but the tour has been a bumpy one with conflict surrounding her wealth and the book has not sold as much as her memoir as first lady "Living History."
Clinton is trying to distance herself from President Obama's foreign policy despite being his former Secretary of State. Clinton trying to position herself as more of a hawk than Obama. Clinton's attempts have resulted in a critical response from both the left and right. The Republican National Committee's spokesman Sean Spicer stated; "You can't distance yourself from this administration's foreign policy when your job for four years was to lead its foreign policy." While anti-interventionist liberals have also been critical of her comments and position on United States military intervention. Clinton was not all critical in the interview; she did also "praise" President Obama, saying; "He's thoughtful, he's incredibly smart, and able to analyze a lot of different factors that are all moving at the same time."
In an attempt to not totally break from President Obama and ease tension ahead of the party they will be both attending, Clinton issued a statement on Tuesday, Aug. 12 released by Nick Merrill, her spokesman; "Secretary Clinton has at every step of the way touted the significant achievements of his presidency, which she is honored to have been part of as his secretary of state. Like any two friends who have to deal with the public eye, she looks forward to hugging it out when they see each other tomorrow night." Merrill clarified that Clinton wants to "make sure he [Obama] knows that nothing she said was an attempt to attack him, his policies, or his leadership."
- Hillary Clinton: 'Failure' to Help Syrian Rebels Led to the Rise of ISIS, Jeffrey Goldberg, Atlantic, 8-14
Bonnie K. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. She covers US, Canadian & Israeli politics, with a particular focus on the Obama presidency, Congress, domestic policy, and elections.