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If Hillary Clinton possesses any unique selling propostion beyond proving even a homely woman can sleep her way into power, it is her tenure as Barack Obama’s secretary of state. That seems to be a slender enough reed when polls show the electorate could give a flying rat’s patootie about experience and favor a change agent above all.
Yesterday, Jeb Bush, (the candidate which we here at RedState are relentlessly pimping because we just love the Bush family in all its generations and permutations or so one talkshow host drunk tweeted), attacked Hillary directly on her strongest attribute:
Arguing that Clinton, as secretary of state, “stood by” while Iraq fell apart and as the Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS, took root across Iraq and Syria puts Bush on offense, shifting the conversation away from whether the war itself was a mistake. (Bush admits now, after stumbling on this question for four days in May, that the invasion was a bad idea.)
“ISIS grew while the United States disengaged from the Middle East and ignored the threat,” Bush said. “And where was Secretary of State Clinton in all of this? Like the president himself, she had opposed the surge … then joined in claiming credit for its success … then stood by as that hard-won victory by American and allied forces was thrown away.”
Bush’s speech was also an attempt to harden negative perceptions about Clinton’s globe-trotting tenure as America’s top diplomat.
“In all her record-setting travels, she stopped by Iraq exactly once,” he said. “Who can seriously argue that America and our friends are safer today than in 2009, when the president and Secretary Clinton — the storied ‘team of rivals’ — took office? So eager to be the history makers, they failed to be the peacemakers. It was a case of blind haste to get out, and to call the tragic consequences somebody else’s problem.”
Naturally, Clinton’s defenders are gnawing the furniture over this. (By the way, can just one candidate promise to never use a professional State Department diplomat for anything more critical than making a run to MacDonald’s? If you do, you have my vote.) First her foreign policy advisor weighed in:
Clinton’s official campaign held a conference call Tuesday afternoon, putting senior policy adviser Jake Sullivan on the line with reporters to argue that Clinton’s tenure in Foggy Bottom was spent rebuilding relationships with allies after George W. Bush’s “policies that for eight years set the cause of American leadership back.”
“This is a pretty bold attempt to rewrite history and reassign responsibility,” Sullivan said, pushing back at Bush’s idea that the Islamic State took root due to the vacuum created on Obama’s watch, when American troops left Iraq. “ISIS grew out of Al-Qaeda in Iraq,” said Sullivan, who served as a top adviser in Clinton’s State Department. “And where did AQI come from? It didn’t exist before the invasion. It emerged in no small part as a result of President’s Bush’s failed strategy. And it gained strength by signing up former Sunni military officers — officers from the army that the Bush administration disbanded.”
Then some tame Democrat foreign service type was drafted into the fray to say similarly ridiculous stuff:
Richard LeBaron, a career diplomat who served as ambassador to Kuwait under George W. Bush, called that argument “disingenuous.” The answer to Bush’s rhetorical question about why the surge led to a drawdown, he argues, “distorts history.”
Obama administration officials have long noted that it was George W. Bush — not Obama — who signed the initial agreement to remove U.S. troops by 2011. And it was the Iraqi parliament that ultimately nixed the administration’s proposal to keep a small residual force in Iraq, not the president, they say.
The people re-writing history here is the Clinton campaign. The facts are amazingly simple:
When George Bush left office Iraq was on the way to being a success.
George Bush’s agreement to leave Iran in 2011 did not bind Barack Obama. In fact, the agreement did not even mean what the Clinton camp is claiming it meant:
The United States has agreed to remove combat troops from Iraqi cities by next June and from the rest of the country by the end of 2011 if conditions in Iraq remain relatively stable, according to Iraqi and American officials involved in negotiating a security accord governing American forces there.
The guy Clinton entrusted to negotiate the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) was more interested in roof top blow jobs and sleeping with reporters than, you know, negotiating. (On the positive side, the reporter was female, so that is good.)
The failed SOFA negotiations were contrived by Obama. We were offered an executive agreement that would have allowed US forces to stay — which is exactly how US forces in Iraq are operating today — and Obama refused it.
The former US ambassador to Iraq thinks Hillary is to blame and this should outweigh the view of the former ambassador to Kuwait.
This kind of substantive attack on Hillary will stick because not only does it have the virtue of being true, but more and more people are coming to the correct decision that the war in Iraq was the right thing.