President Obama’s Clinton Problem: Why you can’t make your Secretary of State’s husband, who happens to be an ex-President, a leading figure in your re-election campaign

Steve Hayward reports at Powerline:

I spoke with a well-placed journalist last night whose sources describe the situation at the State Department in one word: “Chaos.”  The working assumption is that several American embassies may have been penetrated, or are vulnerable to attack, because so many of them rely on local residents for staff needs at the embassy, and as such may be in a position to breach security if they have been recruited by Al Qaida.  Moreover, the full story of the attack on the Benghazi consulate is much worse than we have been told (except by the Independent newspaper report John [Hinderaker] and I linked to here on Thursday).

Yesterday the State Department told the press that it would not be answering any questions about the September 11 attacks on the American embassy in Benghazi that resulted in the killings of four Americans including U.S. ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Brietbart News reports that Fox News military analyst, Colonel David Hunt, claims that “the rules of engagement have been changing drastically over the last 10 years. . . The reason the surge in Iraq worked was we had another 40,000 soldiers and the rules of engagement were changed to allow our guys to shoot. What’s happened in Libya is the final straw of political correctness. We allowed a contractor to hire local nationals as security guards, but said they can’t have bullets. This was all part of the point of not having a high profile in Libya.” Hunt went to say, “Obama may not have known the details of the State Department Rules of Engagement for Libya, but his Chief of Staff and National Security Advisor would have. The Secretary of State absolutely would have. The Department of State Security are the people in charge of diplomatic security. They enforce the rules of engagement, which are set at Clinton’s level at State. The Department of Defense was told we’re not going to have Marines at Benghazi. Whether it goes higher than the Secretary of  State to the President, I don’t know.”

Because my friends on the Left will be skeptical of anything coming from Brietbart or Fox, let us set aside the question of whether or not Colonel Hunt is correct about the State Department Rules of Engagement for Libya and the role Secretary Clinton played in its creation and implementation.  But one must admit–given the events of the past week and the State Department’s self-imposed gag order to discuss these events–what Colonel Hunt asserts may be true. So, let us imagine that it is true, that President Obama’s National Security Advisor along with his Secretary of State put in place rules of engagement that made  the storming of a U.S. consulate, the assassination of a U.S. ambassador, and the murders of two unarmed U.S. Marines much easier for the terrorists to achieve. It seems clear that for any President, Democrat or Republican, who is put in such a position by his National Security Advisor and Secretary of State, the firing of both administration officials must be a live option.

Many of us watched with amazement as former President Bill Clinton offered his support of President Obama in his keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte on September 5. It was masterful in so many ways, though, of course, its accuracy has been called into question.  As to be expected, however, portions of the former President’s speech are being employed by the Obama-Biden campaign in advertisements in support of President Obama’s re-election.

As has been noted, there is no love lost between President Clinton and President Obama. Nevertheless, it seems fair to say that because President Clinton has his eyes on the 2016 presidential election and the possibility of Secretary Clinton becoming the second President Clinton, the “first” President Clinton eagerly embraced the role of “good soldier” and gave President Obama the “full Clinton” at the DNC.

This, however, poses a peculiar problem for President Obama. In ordinary circumstances, as I have already noted, if any Secretary of State in any administration had signed on to rules of engagement that significantly increased the likelihood of the sorts of atrocities that occurred in the Middle East last week on an anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, the sitting President, regardless of party, would have to seriously consider firing that Secretary of State.

But given both President Clinton’s aspirations for his wife, and the important (perhaps vital) role that he is playing in the Obama-Biden reelection campaign, is President Obama free to exercise the sort of judgment that any other president would have to consider when important issues of national security and geopolitical interests are at stake? For can you imagine what would happen if President Obama fired Secretary Clinton over this? Her presidential hopes would be dashed along with her husband’s support of President Obama. (President Clinton, of course, would find a way to remove his support without seeming to do so; he’s really good at that sort of thing, if you haven’t noticed).

In any event, this is the danger of making your Secretary of State’s husband, who happens to be an ex-President, a leading figure in your re-election campaign. It has the potential to undermine your good judgment in a time of international crisis. And it is at such moments that we want our presidents, whether Democrat or Republican, to act for the good of the nation rather than the advancement of their own political interests.


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