For Bill Clinton, history will remember that he “always kept fighting back” to get things done…“Whether it was Democrats or Republicans, you know, he found a way to be able to do some things, to be able to accomplish some things that were important.”
He makes a similar observation about Hillary Clinton, saying she would be a “great” president. “One thing about the Clintons is, they want to get it done,” he says, in words that draw an implicit contrast with Obama…
And Barack Obama’s legacy?
“We are at a point where I think the jury is still out,” Panetta says. “For the first four years, and the time I spent there, I thought he was a strong leader on security issues. … But these last two years I think he kind of lost his way.
“These last two years” – translation, since the indispensable, brilliant Hillary left – so no, nothing happening now is her fault.
But let’s get down to specifics, Mr. Panetta. How has Obama lost his way? From Politico:
Panetta’s criticisms of the Obama administration are similar to the criticisms former Defense Secretary Robert Gates laid out in his own memoir: that those inside the White House sometimes put politics first on matters of war and peace.
Panetta describes efforts to reach a deal with Iraq to allow U.S. troops to remain in the country in the runup to the December 2011 expiration of the status-of-forces agreement — a deal Obama has said he couldn’t achieve because Iraqi leaders wanted U.S. troops gone. “Privately, the various leadership factions in Iraq all confided that they wanted some U.S. forces to remain as a bulwark against sectarian violence,” Panetta writes…
“I privately and publicly advocated for a residual force that could provide training and security for Iraq’s military…But the president’s team at the White House pushed back…”
2011…isn’t that more like three years ago?
So, let’s see. Panetta, Gates, and the Joint Chiefs all pushed in 2011 for a residual U.S. force in Iraq, that would have prevented today’s crisis with ISIS. (Sorry for the rhyme.) They even did so publicly. Did Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton? Perhaps a little, but not very much. From Jennifer Rubin in June 2014:
Clinton’s failure to impress upon the president the importance of a significant force and to negotiate a deal with Iraq under whatever circumstances existed represents a key failure – one that has directly contributed to the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the collapse of the Iraqi military.
So for “PBS NewsHour” Clinton tried out a new tale: “Certainly when President Obama had to make the decision about what to do, he was deciding based on what the Bush administration had already determined, because they were the ones who said troops have to be out by the end of 2011.”
This is patently untrue. The Bush team had always intended that there be a follow-up to the SOFA [Status of Forces Agreement]…The game plan for the Bush team and the Obama team was to conclude a deal [to leave a residual force]; Clinton and her boss failed to do so.
For Hillary to claim that the Bushies planned on having all troops out by 2011 is itself a potshot at Obama. If true, it would mean that Obama hardly did anything to “end the war” – he only followed a Bush plan.
But what does all of this add up to? Well, Clinton Central has evidently decided that the way to get elected in 2016 is:
- Keep playing the “Blame Bush” card when possible. And if it isn’t possible,
- Blame Obama.
As always, we should expect the Clintons to tell a mixture of truth and falsehoods to get what they want, which is: Power.