By Lanny Davis - 02/05/14 06:11 PM EST
OPINION l It seems the pundits and polls in our town and on cable TV looking to fill the time can’t get over the apparently irresistible temptation to blame Hillary Clinton for ... well, just about everything.
Recent press reports quoted anonymous Democrats expressing concerns that Clinton is making the “same mistakes” as she allegedly did in her 2008 presidential campaign.
How could she? Why dare she? It’s all her fault! Why ... sputter ... why doesn’t she just order the pollsters to stop taking polls? Or her supporters to stop answering? I mean, it’s just 33 months from Election Day 2016! Where is her platform? Her new ideas? Her vision for America? Why is she silent?
For months, critics of the former first lady have blamed her for remaining silent while President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have attempted to negotiate a solution to the Iranian nuclear threat, joined by America’s closest allies in western Europe, including England, France and Germany.
Her silence is “deafening,” wrote some critics. How could Clinton, as a retired secretary of State, not speak out and comment on the work of her successor or the policies of the president she worked for?
At the same time, conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin on Sunday harshly criticized Clinton for her letter to Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, supporting Obama and Kerry’s diplomatic initiative and therefore opposing new congressionally-imposed sanctions on Iran at this particular time.
As secretary of State, she helped develop and enforce the strongest economic sanctions regime in history against Iran, which debilitated the Iranian economy and have been attributed for Iran’s decision to come to the negotiating table. So she hardly can be criticized for being soft on sanctions.
Yet this columnist attacked Clinton for being “undependable on Israel.”
Rubin, joining the chorus of other compulsive Clinton critics, accused her of being “the opportunist waiting to see which way the wind was blowing.” This line is repeated over and over again by the anti-Hillary gang, already well-organized at the Republican National Committee and elsewhere, as if by repetition it will become true.
But was testing the political winds the reason why Clinton stood up in 1994 and as first lady led the fight for national health insurance? She took her political lumps for doing so — as she has for standing up for her convictions, regardless of public opinion, throughout her career in private and public life.
Clinton has been far from silent since she left her post as secretary of State. Her new campaign at the Clinton Foundation — “No Ceilings: The Full Participation Project” for women and girls — was launched last November in a speech to 7,000 who had gathered for the 10th annual Pennsylvania Conference on Women. She said that women’s full participation in society remained “the unfinished business of the 21st century,” and reminded her audience that women still hold fewer than 17 percent of corporate board seats and account for only 4 percent of corporate CEOs.
These are facts. But facts don’t seem to matter to far-out Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, who appears to be making his own run for president. Paul told a national audience last Sunday that “I don’t see so much that women are downtrodden. ... In fact I worry about our young men sometimes because I think the women are outcompeting the men in our world.” Really?
On the same program, Paul thought it was appropriate to take a cheap and nasty shot at former President Clinton in the context of criticizing Hillary Clinton. Of course, he forgot to add that on his last day in his second term, Bill Clinton enjoyed a 65 percent approval rating, left behind a budget surplus of nearly $1 trillion and an America with 23 million new jobs during his two terms as president.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has called Paul a “wacko bird.” I prefer to call him — along with most Democrats — my favorite Republican to receive the presidential nomination.
Davis served as special counsel to former President Clinton and is principal in the Washington, D.C., law firm of Lanny J. Davis & Associates, in which he specializes in crisis management. He is the author of Crisis Tales: Five Rules for Coping with Crises in Business, Politics, and Life.