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Hillary's Smooth Sailing Displays Republican Spinelessness

January 19, 2009

As Hillary Clinton confidently droned about establishing a "smart power" strategy in the Middle East (as if to say implicitly that what we've been doing there isn't smart), and her grand-sounding promotion of "global solutions," you could almost hear John and Yoko's "Give Peace a Chance" playing in the background, followed by Lennon's paean to global socialism, "Imagine."

What's downright sickening about Clinton's virtually unchallenged confirmation as Secretary of State-a position which in reality she is woefully unprepared and unqualified to assume-is the Republicans' all-too-predictable capitulation, mounting at best a feeble protest about husband Bill's potentially creating a conflict of interest with his "global fundraising work," as a recent article put it. Far more serious are Clinton's own incredibly shaky credentials to assume the post of America 's chief foreign policy officer; yet there is little challenge even from many conservative commentators on this issue.

To give you some idea of just how unqualified Clinton is for her position, here are some qualifications of recent Secretaries of State:

  • Condoleeza Rice (current):  PhD in Political Science; dissertation on military policy and politics in Czechoslovakia; served in the National Security Council as Soviet expert under President George H. W. Bush; National Security Adviser to President George W. Bush before assuming her current position.
  • General Colin Powell (Army, Retired): Professional soldier for 35 years, rising to the rank of four-star general; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the first Gulf War; National Security Adviser under President Reagan, before serving as George W. Bush's Secretary of State from 2001-2005.
  • Madeleine Albright:  Degrees in political science and public law and government (PhD); multilingual; Senior Fellow in Soviet and Eastern European Affairs at the Center for Strategic and International Studies; Ambassador to the United Nations in President Clinton's first term prior to becoming his Secretary of State.

Now, here are Clinton's qualifications:

  • A lawyer of questionable skills and ethics.
  • Wife of a former president who, with him, was a co-conspirator or chief instigator of several major presidential scandals.
  • Senator who voted for the use of force in Iraq before she decided, when it was expedient to do so, that voting for this resolution was a mistake.
  • Ran a ham-handed, ultra-secretive, brazenly arrogant, and disastrously failed project to essentially nationalize our healthcare system.
  • Major foreign affairs highlight was a passionate embrace of the late PLO "leader" Yasser Arafat's wife, a clear slap at our ally Israel .

Did all of these shaky qualifications disappear into thin air, or do the so-called Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee just have incredibly bad memories? Can you imagine what Jesse Helms would do with the above material? Why, this woman's nomination would never make it out of that committee if he had had anything to say about it.

Yes, it's true there have been other secretaries of state without much foreign policy experience. James Baker under President George H.W. Bush comes to mind, as does Warren Christopher under Clinton, another lawyer whose only previous brush with foreign affairs was being thrust into the Iranian hostage crisis under Jimmy Carter-not exactly a resume enhancement for the top foreign policy post in the country. But with a gangly foreign policy rookie about to occupy the Oval Office, this is hardly the time to award the Secretary of State post as a consolation prize to your primary opponent. In the post 9/11 world, gone are the days when we can afford to have a bumbling, double-talking, inconsistent foreign policy.

In fact, as Obama's cabinet shapes up as either Clinton II or Carter II or both, it's instructive to remember how inconsistency in the nation's foreign policy can damage our credibility abroad. It's one thing for a president to have differing views among members of his cabinet and senior appointees-it's quite another to have these people openly sniping at one another with the president waffling between their views. Such was the case with Jimmy Carter and his key foreign policy advisers-Secretary of State Cyrus Vance (the dove) and National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski (the hawk). The Iranian hostage crisis was the catalyst that caused the rift between these men to erupt, resulting in the ill-fated helicopter rescue attempt in the Iranian desert sands, and Vance's subsequent resignation. Given Clinton's diva-like qualities, there is certainly potential for similar clashes to develop on Obama's team, although the drive-by media will do their best to shield us from them.

Republicans have been railroaded by a fawning press and her own inflated sense of self into believing that Hillary Clinton is a brilliant U.S. Senator and a formidable presidential candidate. That they are at a loss for words to stop her nomination for Secretary of State when mounds of excoriating evidence are there for the taking comes as no surprise, but is nevertheless a sad chapter in our nation's history

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