April 15th, 2021


Hillary's Neocon Moment

Bob Tyrrell

By Bob Tyrrell

Published August 14, 2014

Is it not a thing of wonderment that the two leading families of the Party of the Poor and Down-and-Out are ending the summer in Martha's Vineyard? Both the Obamas and the Clintons are renting spacious mansions, probably from Wall Streeters, on that enchanted isle. They're playing golf and tennis, and — who knows — croquet, just like the Rockefellers or Vanderbilts. Yet do not expect them to be dining together in the moonlight. In fact, relations between them have turned downright hostile.

Hillary this week has made it all but final. She is a neoconservative, a genuine, 24-carat neoconservative! She has all the credentials. Back in the 1970s, Irving Kristol, the official godfather of neoconservatism, defined a neoconservative as a liberal who has been mugged by reality. By that definition, a mere believer in muscular foreign policy pronouncements is no neoconservative. Perhaps he or she is a hawk but not a neoconservative. To be a true neocon one has to have once been a liberal — preferably a Trotskyite — and to have come to one's conversion in fits and starts. Well, Hillary certainly fills the bill, complete with fits and starts.

Anyone aware of her biography knows the route she has traveled. In college, she was a radical. Admittedly, she was what was called a coat and tie radical: coat and tie when the campus was invaded by interviewers from the giant corporations or from graduate schools, radical when it was time to write an honors paper, say, on Saul Alinsky or to deliver a student commencement tirade. She even worked for a Stalinist lawyer in California, and she worked for the Democrats on the impeachment of Richard Nixon. In that last job, she was so crooked that Jerome Zeifman, the Democratic counsel to the House Judiciary Impeachment Inquiry, said in his 1974 personal evaluation of her that he "could not recommend her for any future position in public or private trust."

I digress. Eventually she married Bill and went off to Arkansas where she became a standard-issue left liberal. Then she came with him to the White House and was pretty much a liberal, a feminist liberal, but a liberal. Finally, when she ran for the Senate and served as Barack Obama's secretary of state she was just a liberal, though there were permutations. Working as a senator, she developed a hawkish bent. She supported the war in Iraq. Working as secretary of state, she renounced the war and pretty much adopted the Obama position on foreign policy. There was something about flying in airplanes some 956,733 miles, but we need not get into that now.

When terrorists attacked our installations at Benghazi, both she and the president were unavailable for the proverbial telephone call at 3:00 a.m. However, she objected to following Obama's request that she take up the White House's alibi that the attack was from a "spontaneous" mob and "triggered" by an amateurish video on the Internet, insulting the prophet Muhammad. She is quoted in Ed Klein's "Blood Feud: The Clintons vs. The Obamas" as saying, "Mr. President, that story isn't credible; among other things, it ignores the fact that the attack occurred on 9/11." At any rate, by 10:30 p.m. on September 11, she had relented. She took up the White House's bogus line on Benghazi.

Now, just last weekend, she made the final leap. She is a neoconservative. She derided Obama's, dare we call it, foreign policy doctrine, "Don't do stupid s—-." Said she, "Great nations need organizing principles, and 'don't do stupid stuff' is not an organizing principle." How very neocon! She sneered at Obama's "failure" to supply the Syrian rebels. She spoke in tough terms toward Iran and took up the cause of the Israelis against Hamas. All Obama could do is play a couple of rounds of golf, hit the beach and head to a fundraiser.

We have all heard that Hillary is listening to more hawkish counselors, among them Robert Kagan. He certainly is a neocon and who else? For now Hillary is a neoconservative. What will Bill become?

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R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor in chief of The American Spectator, a political and cultural monthly, which has been published since 1967. He's also the author of several books.