Analysis: Bibi and Obama: Hillary Clinton’s inelegance

The New York Times is among several news outlets to report on Hillary Clinton’s telephone conversation with Jewish leaders in which she stated her opinion on US-Israel relations, in a clear move away from the Obama administration she used to be a part of.

Fair enough. She’s been away from the State Department for long enough now that, at least in this particular instance, she doesn’t have to feel compelled to remain completely loyal. This close to announcing her candidacy in the 2016 election, it is also understandable that she would weigh in. The Jewish vote is an important one, as is the Black vote.  She cannot afford to lose either. The New York Times reports the essence of what was said:

““Secretary Clinton thinks we need to all work together to return the special U.S.-Israel relationship to constructive footing, to get back to basic shared concerns and interests, including a two-state solution pursued through direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians,” Mr. Hoenlein said in a statement issued by his organization on Sunday evening. “We must ensure that Israel never becomes a partisan issue,” he quoted her as saying. Mrs. Clinton knows Mr. Hoenlein from her time in the Senate.

A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton confirmed that she had spoken to Mr. Hoenlein, but would not elaborate on what they had discussed or say if he had quoted her accurately.”

Unless Mrs. Clinton clarifies exactly who she had in mind when she said she plans on ensuring that Israel never again becomes a partisan issue, it will be very difficult for anyone sitting at the White House not to take her statement to mean that President Obama played a divisive role in the current divisions between Israel and America, when that honor falls squarely on Benjamin Netanyahu and John Boehner.

For someone whose public utterances are as choreographed and general as Mrs. Clinton’s have been over her decades as a politician, it is hard to imagine that this statement was a slip, made in the heat of the moment, without at least some calculation of its effect. As hard to imagine is Clinton’s lack of awareness of the fraying relationship with her former boss and the Black community at large.

There are ways to differentiate oneself from a former boss who happens to be our sitting president. While one might argue that President Obama hasn’t made an effort to restrain his anger at the slight Netanyahu and Boehner knowingly perpetrated against him, he should be more mindful that punishing Bibi means punishing all of Israel and, in the process, alienating American Jews. But dissing the president like this, even in a roundabout way, is crassly impolitic. It just confirms the whispers about the Clintons’ influence in keeping the president from helping out his fellow Democrats during the campaigns of Election 2014.

We are still two years away from the general election. Mrs. Clinton can ill-afford to show her impatience by using the same tactic as Bibi and telegraph that she will override current policy when she takes office. Why? It’s one thing for the press to treat Mrs. Clinton as if she’s all but won the presidency, but if and when she takes office hasn’t been decided. Not yet!

Quoted materials were curated from

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