Saturday, April 23, 2016

A Sunday Must-Read from the New York Times on Hillary Clinton and the Military

Given the title, I dove into Mark Landler's How Hillary Clinton Became a Hawk prepared for fury - mine.  How, I wondered, can the New York Times, which endorsed her, feature such an article on the eve of five - count 'em - important primaries in the east?  But titles can be deceiving.  They are meant to draw.  I have been advised many times that my titles are not snappy enough, but it's hard to evoke snap when you have also been advised that titles lacking Hillary's full name are less likely to be gathered by internet crawlers that aggregate news about her. If you want the traffic, you have to dull it down to mundane Google-bait.

In the flurry of interviews that preceded the New York primary, there was one - and I forget which one now - in which Hillary was asked if she is a hawk.  She responded very carefully by differentiating hawkishness from support of the military and emphasizing that she is running to be commander-in-chief, a position that presupposes support of the military.  Judging from the title of Landler's piece I was prepared for a polemic asserting her hawkishness.  What I found instead was a chronological analysis of her core attitude toward the military. It is fascinating, enlightening, and endearing.

Landler provides behind-the-scenes glimpses into military questions that played out partially in the public eye on the news and largely behind the secure walls of the Situation Room and other recesses of state. To know that Hillary, as a Senator, took the time and trouble to visit every military base in New York state and assess the impact on the wider civilian population of closing any of them is testament to her gritty approach to any work we, as her constituents, assign her.

While the article focuses on Hillary's relationship with the military, its implications are wider in scope. Her style as a leader leaps from the page. She is a go-getter.  She gets the the people, the information, and the materials and briefs she needs to decide a position and then to make her case. This is how she operates, and it is impressive.

If you love Hillary - or think you do - from what you know now,  you will love her even more when she goes to Fort Drum, home of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division (where my dad trained), takes off her shoes, puts her feet on the coffee table and asks a General where a gal can get a cold beer.  That is my commander-in-chief!  That's our Hillary!

So I strongly recommend, even though we all have a load of work to do over the next few days, that you plan to take a quiet break at some point, put your feet up, and read this article.  You will be glad for the information it provides, ammo for the battles we face, and for the pleasure of the read.

IS Hillary Clinton a hawk?  This sentence says it all, and we have heard her say this in town halls when asked: "She would look at military force as another realistic option, but only where there is no other option."

Hillary Clinton sat in the hideaway study off her ceremonial office in the State Department, sipping tea and taking stock of her first year on the job. The study was more like a den — cozy and wood-paneled, lined with bookshelves that displayed mementos from Clinton’s three decades in the public eye: a statue of her heroine, Eleanor Roosevelt; a baseball signed by the Chicago Cubs star Ernie Banks; a carved wooden figure of a pregnant African woman. The intimate setting lent itself to a less-formal interview than the usual locale, her imposing outer office, with its marble fireplace, heavy drapes, crystal chandelier and ornate wall sconces. On the morning of Feb. 26, 2010, however, Clinton was talking about something more sensitive than mere foreign affairs: her relationship with Barack Obama. To say she chose her words carefully doesn’t do justice to the delicacy of the exercise. She was like a bomb-squad technician, deciding which color wire to snip without blowing up her relationship with the White House.
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