This Daily News article on Hillary Clinton’s hawkish advisors doesn’t advance the ball very far, but it’s good to see the issue bubbling into less-elite circles. It’s also noteworthy for the fact that Lee Feinstein, the top foreign policy guy on the campaign staff and thus presumably in job for a second-tier nationals security post, has a very silly response to these complaints:
“A lot of Obama’s advisers thought this was a stupid war in 2002, and a lot of Hillary’s advisers thought it was a good idea in 2002,” said one Democrat with a national security résumé. “That’s the original sin which causes people to make some choices.”
“The campaign’s advisers reflect a broad spectrum of opinion within the Democratic Party,” countered Clinton national security guru Lee Feinstein. “The candidate makes her own decisions about her foreign policy positions.”
Uh huh. Of course she makes her own decisions. But that’s the point — she decided that invading Iraq was a good idea, and her team is mostly made up of people who agreed with her. The concern isn’t that Dick Holbrooke and Feinstein are controlling her mind. The concern is that she’s working with the people she’s working with because their thinking reflects her own thinking. And advisors are worth taking a look at, because “experts” tend to lay their ideas out in the press in more detail than do politicians. Clinton, for example, just hasn’t clearly said one way or another whether or not she believes unilateral preventive war is a good basis for non-proliferation policy. But she did authorize the use of force against Iraq, and several of the people working for her on a high level have taken clearer stands in favor of preventive war, so it’s natural to refer to them in raising the issue.
Simply noting in response that Clinton makes her own decisions (of course she does!) doesn’t dispel one’s doubts that she’s not being clear about these issues because her beliefs on these matters aren’t things Democratic primary voters will agree with.