President Obama Not Doing Democrats Any Favors by Expecting Hillary Clinton to Apologize

800px-Barack_Obama_and_Hillary_Clinton_in_MexicoDo you ever get the feeling that President Obama can dish it out, but he can’t take it. At least when it comes to his former Secretary of State, that is.

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!

 Image via Wikimedia Commons/White House/Pete Souza/in the public domain

  • Sop

    Thanks for writing this–it’s about time someone said it. I wonder though, was the president actually hyper-sensitive or was it his team? Axelrod was so fast to defend “Don’t do stupid stuff” that I was led to believe he gave birth to that phrase. Nonetheless, her context does not slam the president. Are these the words of a slam?

    “I think he was trying to communicate to the American people that he’s not going to do something crazy. I’ve sat in too many rooms with the president. He’s thoughtful, he’s incredibly smart, and able to analyze a lot of different factors that are all moving at the same time. I think he is cautious because he knows what he inherited, both the two wars and the economic front, and he has expended a lot of capital and energy trying to pull us out of the hole we’re in. So I think that that’s a political message. It’s not his worldview, if that makes sense to you.”

  • TeresaInpa

    obama owes the Clinton’s a lot. They helped him in his first election and in his second and his advisers should remember that. Now he and his crew need to buck up and help her and that means not getting all bent out of shape when she says some thing that is better for her than for him. She has to run, he does not. Also, she is a separate person with opinions of her own and she needs to start talking about what she thinks and what she would do. She can’t wait until he is out of office. She tried for a long time to get him to change his policy on Syria. History has proved that she was right and he was wrong. She is not a hawk, she is for doing things that will PREVENT the need for war…..like letting the inspectors back in to Iraq to PROVE there were no WMD so we would NOT go into Iraq……. Now we are going to have to do something about Isis. We can not continue to allow them to continue as they are in Iraq. And it would not be necessary if Obama had listened to Hillary.

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