Monday, November 16, 2015

Hillary News & Views 11.16: Post-Debate Commentary and Foreign Policy

Today’s Hillary News & Views focuses on post-debate coverage, including updates from the campaign trail in Iowa on Sunday.

Des Moines Register has ten takeaways from Saturday night’s debate. 

Here are a couple of highlights:
Clinton was the most full-throated she has been on college affordability.
She declared: "We should have debt-free college if you go to a public college or university." She often talks about debt-free tuition — but tuition is only part of the cost of college, advocates noted.
In her new TV ad launched last week, the on-screen text said: "Hillary's college compact: Go to college without debt." In the debate, she said it out loud herself. She wants to use federal Pell grants to defray living expenses, she said.
No one embraced Obama more than Clinton.
She was the only one of the three to mention him by name, and reached for his coattails on at least two of his signature achievements. Asked what crisis she has experienced in her life that suggests she's been tested, Clinton responded with her role in advising Obama about whether to go after al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. And she hugged Obama on the Affordable Care Act as a way to bash Sanders' proposal to pursue a single-payer health care system.
Later, she argued that "President Obama deserves more credit than he gets for what he's gotten done in Washington despite the Republican oppression."
The New Republic notes that at the debate, “We Just Saw the Hillary Clinton That Republicans Will Have to Beat”:
In fact, Clinton is already taking the fight to Republicans. As in the first debate, she took pains to point to the GOP as the collective enemy and main barrier to progress:
“Look at what’s happening with the Republicans. They are doing everything they can to prevent the voices of Americans to be heard. They’re trying to prevent people from registering to vote. We do need to take on the Republicans very clearly and directly.
“What I see in their debates—they are putting forth alarming plans. All of us support funding Planned Parenthood, all of us believe that climate change is real, all us want equal pay for equal work—they don’t believe in any of that,” she said. “Let’s focus on what this election is going to be about.” 
As I’ve argued before, this is the strongest case that Clinton has to make in the primary and the general election, no matter who the Republican nominee is: She doesn’t need to prove that she’s “likable,” just that she’s a strong leader who will be in the best position to hold the line against a GOP that has moved farther and farther to the right—and who will extract what victories she can through executive action given a Congress that will very likely remain under Republican control. 
It’s much the same strategy that Obama has embraced throughout his second term, and Clinton made it clear during the debate that she is running to defend his accomplishments. The case she made against Sanders’s single-payer plan, for instance, wasn’t that it’s too expensive or too socialist, but that it would dismantle Obamacare and end up empowering Republicans by creating a national system administered by the states. I would not want, If I lived in Iowa, Terry Branstad administering my health care. I—think—I think as Democrats we ought to proudly support the Affordable Care Act, improve it, and make it the model that we know it can be,” she said.

Time observed that the day after the debate, Clinton kept her ire focused on the GOP:
Clinton in her speech extended a conciliatory hand to O’Malley and emphasized all the values she shares with the two other Democratic candidates despite a scrappy debate. “There may be differences among the three of us on that stage last night,” Clinton told the audience, her husband president Bill Clinton sitting gamely nearby and smiling and clapping. “Our differences pale compared to what we believe, what we stand for.”
After a tough debate when her opponents Sanders and O’Malley pummeled her on a range of issues, Clinton focused her fire on Republicans. “You listen to the Republicans—they want to rip up our progress that we’ve made,” she said. “And just shred it, throw away, and deny we have to do more to build our economy and our country!”
Clinton then repeated much of her stump speech, eliciting loud applause from the audience and sounding like a candidate prepared for a general election.I listen to the Republicans, and I know they want to turn the clock back on human rights, on civil rights, on women’s rights on gay rights, on voting rights, and we can’t let that happen!” Clinton said. “We have to stand firmly against them!”

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports on Clinton’s follow-up comments yesterday about ISIS:
Clinton, speaking at a Central Iowa Democratic Party barbecue on the campus of Iowa State University, went straight into the attacks on Paris and her response.
“The attacks in Paris, as I said last night at the debate, are a sobering reminder of the challenges and threats that we face,” Clinton said. “And the importance of American leadership. This is a world-wide fight. As I said, I know America has to lead it but we cannot and should not do it alone.”
The New York Times reports:
The day after a debate in which Democratic presidential candidates tangled over the causes of Islamic State terrorism but not how to confront it, Hillary Rodham Clinton offered a more forward-looking view of American leadership in response to the threat.
“We have to be rallying our partners and allies, pulling countries off the sidelines,” Mrs. Clinton said on Sunday.
Mrs. Clinton on Sunday called the Islamic State “the first Internet-fueled terrorist group,” which will require strong countermeasures to its propaganda and recruitment.
“Attacking Paris, the city of light, reminds us that there is no middle ground in going after these terrorists,’’ Mrs. Clinton said.
Politico notes that Clinton called out waffling allies in the Middle East at Saturday night’s debate
Hillary Clinton took the unusual step of putting some of America's Muslim allies on notice Saturday night, saying they "have got to make up their minds" about where they stand in the battle against terrorism.
"Are they going to stand with us against this kind of jihadi radicalism or not?" Clinton asked. "And there are many ways of doing it. They can provide sources, they can provide resources. But they need to be absolutely clear about where they stand."
The former secretary of state's blunt talk is fairly rare for Obama administration-linked power players in Washington, D.C., many of whom — even off the record — are extremely careful about how they discuss countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey.
The Washington Post has a piece up about the “gravitas gap”:
Clinton skated through the first Democratic Party debate without any TPP questions, and I do hope she gets asked about it Saturday night. That’s particularly true since, according to the Economist, “tomorrow’s trickiest obstacles may be questions from the moderator, John Dickerson of CBS.” Indeed, Clinton is in a commanding position among Democrats, with a commanding lead in the polls, endorsements, and even superdelegates. As the overwhelming front-runner, her policy views should be held close to the fire and examined for all their inconsistencies.
Now is the moment when I would ordinarily rip Clinton’s hypocrisy on this issue for all it’s worth. The thing is, though, for any self-respecting mainstream policy wonk, the depressing fact is that Clinton is approaching TINA status — there is no alternative. As I noted Thursday, it’s not like the Republican Party’s economic policy platform is any better than Clinton’s — in fact, it’s demonstrably worse.
So to sum up the situation that a centrist wonk like myself is in right now:
  • Clinton’s views on key policy issues seem somewhat flawed;
  • Her policy flaws will not be debated because she seems to be the only grown-up in the race.
The article above references a longer read from Foreign Policy called, “The Hillary Clinton Doctrine”:
Clinton had worked the deal under tremendous pressure, without flinching. William Burns, who replaced Steinberg as deputy secretary of state in 2011 and who was by his boss’s side throughout the China trip, says that while everyone around Clinton worried that the talks would fail, "the steady tone she set helped establish an atmosphere" of calm. What's more, Clinton had operated under the belief that she could anger the Chinese without provoking a ruinous reaction; a premise she had already tested in her 2010 ASEAN speech. "The test of a strategic dialogue," Burns notes, "is how it can weather unexpected events." The fact that the Chinese chose not to blow up the talks was itself a vindication of Clinton's tactics.
The Chen drama also illustrated Clinton's distinctive approach to human rights. Michael Posner, who served as assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor and who accompanied Clinton on the 2012 China trip, says, "She'll take tough positions in private conversations. She may be less likely to be rhetorically strong but she's more aggressive, more resilient, in face-to-face encounters." Posner cites the example of a 2010 trip to Uzbekistan, which the United States was then using to bring supplies into and out of Afghanistan. Prior to Clinton’s meeting with Uzbek strongman Islam Karimov, Posner had asked her to seek the release from prison of Uzbek poet Yusuf Juma. Clinton waited until the end of a long meeting which stretched well into the night to raise the subject. Karimov, says Posner, "turned bright red. He was furious. He pointed at me and said, `This is beneath you. This guy put you up to it.'"
Clinton, recalls Posner, said, "No, it is not beneath me. It is every bit as important as what we talked about for the last two hours." After months of haggling, Juma was released from prison and reunited with his wife in the United States. Clinton said nothing to the press about Juma either before or after her talk with Karimov, thus making it easier for the Uzbek dictator to do the right thing. Of course, in helping this one very worthy person, Clinton did nothing to change Karimov’s appalling behavior to his other citizens.
One of the facts in Hillary Rodham Clinton’s biography that has always loomed large in my mind is her Wellesley College degree. When I was an undergraduate at Harvard in the 1990s, buses spewed Wellesley students into Harvard Square each weekend, all made up and dressed for romantic battle. They were our competition for men, and they tilted the male-female balance at the parties and clubs. My female friends and I considered the Wellesley girls our sworn enemies.
At the time, I couldn’t understand why any straight girl would choose to attend a women’s college. I was 18 and eager to be in as close proximity to as many boys as possible. Plus, the young feminist in me considered it a cop-out to retreat to female-only classes. At the time I thought, how could you prove you were as good as—or better than—the men if you weren’t going toe-to-toe with them academically?
Of course, when Hillary Rodham arrived at Wellesley in the fall of 1965, a women’s college education meant something entirely different. She was in the vanguard of young women attending college to launch a career, not just earn their “M.R.S.” degree. The Ivy League hadn’t yet begun to admit women, so she didn’t have the choice between Harvard or Wellesley. When I talk to my mother, who is of that same generation, she speaks of the women who attended Seven Sisters’ colleges as strong and independent, career-minded, and determined to change society—certainly not the idea I had in my head. Hillary’s class of ’69 consisted of a wave of newly-hatched Betty Friedan-era feminists.

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