Hillary Clinton’s speech Thursday was billed as her plan to combat Islamic State. In truth, her plan was to combat the idea that she is another Barack Obama.
It was a good try, but she failed because, as boxing great Joe Louis once said about an opponent, “He can run, but he can’t hide.”
Clinton can run from Obama, but can’t hide from the unholy mess he — and she — made.
As his first secretary of state, she was part of the team that botched the wars in Iraq and Syria and helped birth the Islamic terrorism now rattling the world. The slaughter in Paris and fresh threats against America make it urgent that she erase her fingerprints from the calamity. That’s impossible, so she settled for putting some daylight between herself and Obama.
“Our goal is not to deter or contain ISIS, but to defeat and destroy ISIS,” she said.
Daylight, but not too much daylight. For as a Democrat trying to succeed him, she needs Obama’s support, and especially the black vote, to win the general election.
So she was careful to invoke his name only when she agreed with him, as when she joined him in knocking down the straw man that the solution requires a large deployment of combat troops.
“Like President Obama, I do not believe that we should again have 100,000 American troops in combat in the Middle East,” she said.
Nobody on the GOP side advocates that, either, but she had to find something nice to say about Obama. Not an easy thing to do, but necessary for her.
After all, there’s also the not-so-small matter of the FBI investigation into her mishandling of classified material on her private server. With a wink or a nod, Obama can call off the hunt, or give it the green light.
It all adds up to a complex minefield, one Clinton couldn’t navigate in a single speech, even though she displayed her knowledge of the issues and players.
Reading from a teleprompter, she checked off the complications with Turkey, Iran, Russia, the Kurds and the Arab states. She talked about Sunnis and Shias, threw in Hezbollah and Hamas, dropped Osama bin Laden’s name twice and claimed to have warned that the Arab Spring could lead to disaster.
Take that, Donald Trump!