The recent comments made by Hillary Clinton about differing with POTUS on the decision of whether or not to arm Syrian rebels, and whether that was a cause of the rise of the terrorist group ISIS, have seemingly gotten under his skin to the point where Hillary has laughingly said they’d have to “hug it out” while they both happened to be on Martha’s Vineyard. Now, she might have been more graceful in her comments about the President’s foreign policy decisions. It’s not a surprise that her statement that, “Great nations need organizing principles, and ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle,” got under Obama’s skin, but leaders of nations should be able to let outside critique go and remain focused on more important things. If Clinton had made those statements while still Secretary of State, that would be a different matter. And if you read her comments in the context of the interview, they are much more nuanced than being an outright slam. But President Obama knows full well how the “I’m thinking about running for president” game is played. And that’s clearly what’s at work here.
But how is it that the man who backhandedly and disdainfully told Hillary during the 2008 campaign, “you’re likeable enough,” gets so distracted by Clinton, no longer his employee, that his aides essentially sent her the message than an apology was necessary, especially when his attention should be on the fact that it feels like the whole world is crumbling.
But I’m wondering this — President Obama has never been thrilled with the idea of leaning on the Clintons for support — though the pragmatist in him has bowed to that when necessary, like in the 2012 reelection campaign and his effort to pass the Affordable Care Act. But I don’t need a president in the White House who is distracted by political theatrics.
Really, Mr. President, sometimes you just have to let things go and stay focused on the more important issues. Many pundits are claiming that Hillary isn’t being diplomatic enough, that maybe her people skills are off and need more polishing before she throws her hat in the 2016 presidential ring, and that maybe she’s so off her game she needs to go back to Chappaqua and stay there.
Those critics are missing the point.
Hillary Clinton knew exactly what she was doing when she gave that interview to The Atlantic. And if the shoe was on the other foot, Hillary would have let it roll off her back and stayed focused on the bigger issues that need attention.
That’s what I want from this President. I don’t mind that he’s on “vacation,” but I do want him to keep his eye on what’s really important to the world, and not his ego. If there is one thing he should be thinking about that has nothing to do with his tenure in the White House it’s this — making sure he can help, not hinder, the potential Democratic front runner in 2016.
Joanne Bamberger is an independent journalist and journalism entrepreneur who is also the author of the book Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America. She is the founder and publisher of the The Broad Side. You can find her on Twitter at @jlcbamberger. Also, follow The Broad Side on Twitter at @The_Broad_Side and on Facebook!