Hillary Clinton expressed a desire to leave her post as secretary of state at the close of Obama’s first term in January. Given her remarks at the Brookings Institution on Friday, I say, “Bon voyage, and don’t let the screen door hit you in the derriere on the way out.”
Before we get to her Friday speech, a brief rundown of events that went down earlier in the week is in order.
On Wednesday, President Obama described Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, as “extraordinary” and said he “couldn’t be prouder of the job she’s done.”
The next day, Rice demonstrated just how “extraordinary” she is by dealing a huge blow to both the United States and Israel. On Thursday, the United Nations, Rice’s domain, passed a resolution elevating Palestine’s status from “non-member observer entity” to “non-member observer state.” By recognizing Palestine as a “state,” Palestinians hope to receive new leverage in their dealings with Israel.
The U.N. membership voted on Palestinian statehood with a resounding 138 “yes” votes to nine “no” votes. Rice couldn’t even get two of America’s closest and most important allies to vote with us. Lacking the courage to vote either way, Great Britain and Germany pulled an Obama and abstained.
Clinton immediately criticized the vote as “unfortunate and counterproductive.” I agree wholeheartedly.
In her keynote address at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution Friday evening, Clinton pulled an abrupt about-face when discussing the U.N. vote.
“So, look, I’m not making excuses for the missed opportunities of the Israelis, or the lack of generosity, the lack of empathy that I think goes hand-in-hand with the suspicion,” Clinton said, according to Twirchy.com. “So, yes, there is more that the Israelis need to do to really demonstrate that they do understand the pain of an oppressed people in their minds, and they want to figure out, within the bounds of security and a Jewish democratic state, what can be accomplished.”
To the secretary of state, I can only say it’s difficult to express empathy toward an entity constantly hurling a barrage of rockets your way. It’s difficult to express generosity toward a people who express a desire for nothing less than your complete obliteration from the face of the earth. It’s difficult to be understanding toward the Palestinians when they have stated repeatedly they will never recognize the legitimacy of Israel as an independent state.
I can’t say I’ve ever been a huge Hillary fan, but I always thought she exhibited a toughness born out of a sense of reality. I confess I grudgingly admired that. No more. Although I wish her no ill, Clinton can collect her gold watch upon retirement and fade from our memory.