When I was a guest on conservative Hugh Hewitt’s national radio program last fall, he asked me what foreign policy achievements I thought former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would brag about, if she runs for president.
I was not prepared for the question. After a long pause, I quoted what President Dwight Eisenhower said in 1960 when a reporter asked for a major idea of Vice President Richard Nixon’s that was adopted by the administration: “If you give me a week, I might think of one.”
Clinton’s new book, “Hard Choices,” which she is flogging nationwide in what looks transparently like a prelude to a presidential campaign, finds ample examples. She cites such achievements as the Obama administration’s reorientation toward Asia, particularly its reopening of diplomatic doors to long-isolated Burma.
Why didn’t I think of that? Partly because, as much as I expect Clinton to run for president, I don’t expect her to campaign much on foreign policy issues. Ironic as that sounds in regard to a former secretary of state, I think most American voters would rather focus on problems here at home.
As the Obama administration puts the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts into our rearview mirror, most Americans probably are grateful enough that she didn’t get us into any new major wars.
When foreign policy issues do arise, she starts from a good place. A new ABC/Washington Post poll finds 59 percent of Americans approve of her job performance at State. Similar majorities ranging from 55 percent to 67 percent think she “understands the problems of ordinary Americans,” has new ideas, is honest and trustworthy and is a strong leader.
It is with that tailwind of goodwill that Clinton, the undeclared Democratic presidential hopeful, launches her memoir, with repeated denials that it is a thinly veiled pre-campaign book. It just happens to do what campaign book launches do: It generates lots of buzz, puts off potential rivals and helps early fundraising efforts by support groups like Ready for Hillary.