June 6th, 2014
11:12 AM ET
4 months ago

What Clinton’s book may tell us about 2016

Washington (CNN) - In her much-anticipated new book, Hillary Clinton distances herself from President Barack Obama, and even from herself. In the process, she seems to come across as both a hawk and a dove.

In "Hard Choices," Clinton appears to try and make sure that a 2002 Senate vote that damaged her 2008 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination doesn't come back to bite her again if she decides to run for the White House in 2016.

In her memoir of her tenure as secretary of state, Clinton also appears to try and put a little daylight between herself and the President over the U.S. role in the bloody three-year old civil war in Syria, a global hotspot where Americans appear divided.

"Hard Choices" officially hits bookstores on Tuesday, but CBS News, NBC News, and The Associated Press were able to get their hands on copies of the book.

A vote with consequences

Then-Sen. Clinton of New York in 2002 voted in favor of the Iraq War resolution. Clinton's vote became a key topic in her marathon and historic 2008 battle with then-Sen. Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The issue, more than the economy, dominated the early parts of the campaign, with Obama fiercely criticizing Clinton over the vote. Clinton at first refused to term it a mistake, but later said during the campaign that she would not have voted the same way.

Obama, who was a major opponent of the war, never had to vote on whether to authorize military action against Saddam Hussein, as he was not elected to the Senate until 2004.

The groups that have Hillary's back

While she's distanced herself from her 2002 vote before, her words in "Hard Choices" seem to be her most forceful comments ever regarding that faithful vote.

"I thought I had acted in good faith and made the best decision I could with the information I had. And I wasn't alone in getting it wrong. But I still got it wrong. Plain and simple," Clinton writes, according to CBS' account of the book.

In 2008, anti-war Democrats were large in number and in passion, and when it came to Clinton, they were unforgiving. The war will only be a footnote in 2016, but regardless, Clinton appears to be tying up loose ends.

'Hard Choices': A book rollout or a campaign tune up?

"It cost Clinton mightily in 2008 because the war was ongoing, the Democratic Party, and in particular younger Democrats, had soured on the war and she faced candidate Barack Obama, who was not a Senator when the vote was taken, but had spoken against it at an anti-war rally," CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley said. "But time and circumstance have diluted the potency of Iraq as a political issue."

"To me Clinton's comments in her book are more like putting a period on her history than a way to inoculate herself for the future. Sure, now if in some in-depth interview someone says, were you wrong about Iraq, she can toss it off, 'yes, I've already said that.'" added Crowley, anchor of CNN's "State of the Union."

Distancing herself from the President?

On the divisive question of whether the U.S. should arm rebels in Syria's civil war, Clinton writes that the "risks of both action and inaction were high. Both choices would bring unintended consequences. The President's inclination was to stay the present course and not take the significant further step of arming rebels."

According to CBS' story, Clinton adds that "no one likes to lose a debate, including me. But this was the President's call and I respected his deliberations and decision. From the beginning of our partnership, he had promised me that I would always get a fair hearing. And I always did. In this case, my position didn't prevail."

The passage appears to be an attempt by Clinton to put some daylight between herself and her former boss when it comes to Syria.

"The great challenge for Clinton is how do you set yourself apart from the President when you think it's important, but do it in a respectful enough way that you don't alienate the Obama base in the Democratic Party," CNN Chief National Correspondent John King asked.

When it comes to Clinton's writings in her memoir on Iraq and Syria, CNN Senior Political Analyst Ron Brownstein sees a contradiction.

"On the one hand, she is acknowledging the inevitable: that by now the Democratic electorate essentially demands a repudiation of the Iraq War," said Brownstein, the editorial director of National Journal.

"But she clearly balances that with her revelation that she pushed for a stronger intervention in Syria. On Iraq she's moving left, on Syria toward a more hawkish position. It's not easy from this positioning to pin her down as identifying entirely with the left or the right of the party, and I suspect we'll be saying that about the way she approaches a lot of things in 2016."

Related: Clinton talks 2016 aspirations, Monica Lewinsky in People Magazine interview

Hillary Clinton to take part in live CNN town hall


Filed under: 2016 • Hillary Clinton
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. The Republican Party Is Dead To Me

    If she decides not to run, it will be a day of smiles and jovial laughter in all of the republican camps from coast to coast.

    June 6, 2014 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  2. srcactus

    Have you really, ever known a politician that couldn't bob N weave, duck and run?

    June 6, 2014 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  3. Donna

    In her much-anticipated new book, Hillary Clinton distances herself from President Barack Obama, and even from herself. In the process, she seems to come across as both a hawk and a dove.
    --

    Of course, she is distancing herself from Obama!! Who in their right mind would run and associate themselves with this then 8 year clown show and disaster? her problem is that she was a big part of it for 4 years and has a record of disaster all her own.

    And on the other statement, of course she wants to be all things to all people to hide who she really is. Didn't we make this mistake with Obama? He told us one thing and then turned out to be somebody else completely different. Hillary wants to come across as a chameleon but people know she is just a snake.

    June 6, 2014 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  4. Gurgyl

    -well, she has voted in 2002 under excruciating circumstances which can not and ought not be considered. It is past ten years. Now, she and the entire this nation realizes that war was so illegal. As a result of which we all paid our dues. Now her focus should be as to how to put this big nation right on the wheels of progress and Job creation, improve fuel-efficiency, and infrastructure development. On one side, we all saw thr rampant OBSTRUCTION by GOP congress, which is the most horrible. Ishe needs to focus on south east nations. India and China are the real threat to our economy. These are the bigger problems to tackle with. Good luck, Hillary16.

    June 6, 2014 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  5. rs

    Well, for most of us, we'll actually have to read it.
    For the Right- they'll just wait for Hannity, or Rush, or some other fount of disinformation to make stuff up.

    June 6, 2014 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  6. Rudy NYC

    Donna

    In her much-anticipated new book, Hillary Clinton distances herself from President Barack Obama, and even from herself. In the process, she seems to come across as both a hawk and a dove.
    -

    Of course, she is distancing herself from Obama!! Who in their right mind would run and associate themselves with this then 8 year clown show and disaster? her problem is that she was a big part of it for 4 years and has a record of disaster all her own.
    --------------------------–
    Who does the GOTP have to offer as a credible candidate? As of now, everyone I could name falls into one of three categories: too extreme in their views; too damaged by their past; too disliked by the base.

    June 6, 2014 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  7. cm

    I would like to see Obama's brother run for president-2016

    June 6, 2014 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  8. Gurgyl

    --let me ask, what went wrong in eight years? Absolutely nothing. In fact this nation is under much better leadership than Bush, Reagan. Did you forget, Donna, we had Illegal two wars that drained this nation from surplus to deficit? Do you know if you stay outside of USA how much it costs? Entire fleets were outside for more than a decade. It drained and lot of innocent kills, and soldier kills occurred, on Reagan trickle-down most of the jobs were shipped to foreign nations. Did we bring Oil? No. Why did Republicans go there in the first place. Rant, rant, rant–ignorants of party bias.

    June 6, 2014 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  9. barryinlasvegas

    It will teach us she doesn't think she served in the US Senate. Why?

    June 6, 2014 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  10. sly

    Hillary Clinton is the most powerful woman in the world, a wise leader, and it is time to break the glass ceiling in America.

    Our nation is thriving under the progressive policies of President Obama: no wars, record 401k, unprecedented deficit reduction.

    No one is more qualified to continue the good times than Hillary Clinton. Enjoy these good times, America!

    June 6, 2014 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  11. Silence DoGood

    @sly
    Hillary Clinton is the most powerful woman in the world, a wise leader, and it is time to break the glass ceiling in America.

    Our nation is thriving under the progressive policies of President Obama: no wars, record 401k, unprecedented deficit reduction.

    No one is more qualified to continue the good times than Hillary Clinton. Enjoy these good times, America!
    ----------
    She should run on continuing progress, balanced leadership, realistic smart policies.
    And endorsing Science – not being a science denier – that is a big one for me.

    June 6, 2014 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    First Coburn giving diagnoses based on short videos and now CNN reading tea leaves. What a fun day in Prognosticationville. Idiots.

    June 6, 2014 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  13. Bill

    @sly – Hillary Clinton is an old woman who should retire and play with her grandchild. Our nation is thriving? please read up and the divide between the haves and have nots....

    June 6, 2014 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  14. IpseCogita

    Nice summary. Essentially she seems to be saying she agrees with anything that anyone who might vote for her wants her to agree with.

    June 6, 2014 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  15. Tommy G

    sly
    Hillary Clinton is the most powerful woman in the world, a wise leader, and it is time to break the glass ceiling in America.
    --
    Tell it to the four dead americans she helped get killed, then refused to help, then concocted a lie to cover her trail.

    Our nation is thriving under the progressive policies of President Obama: no wars, record 401k, unprecedented deficit reduction.
    --–
    The fed printing money for years to drive up the stock market means nothing when we still, after 5.5 years have record unemployment. Thriving??? The only deficit reduction done has been through tax increases, Obamacare has 21 new taxes. Obama and the Democrats have not cut a penny of spending, and actually continue to increase spending.

    No one is more qualified to continue the good times than Hillary Clinton. Enjoy these good times, America!
    ---
    Tell it to all of the unemployed kids going out of college. Tell it to all the under employed people working at MacDonalds because there are no jobs in their field.

    Why do the leftist Democrats continue to spin their web of lies? The American people know what is really going on but they continue to double down on their lies. Pathetic.

    June 6, 2014 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  16. Rick McDaniel

    It tells us she has been a quick Obama understudy, and that she will continue to us his methods to lie and deceive, all while leading us down the path of Democratic Party dictatorship.

    June 6, 2014 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  17. Ol' Yeller

    "Did you forget, Donna, we had Illegal two wars that drained this nation from surplus to deficit? Do you know if you stay outside of USA how much it costs? Entire fleets were outside for more than a decade. It drained and lot of innocent kills, and soldier kills occurred, on Reagan trickle-down most of the jobs were shipped to foreign nation"

    Nah, donna didn't forget... this is what donna and his friends want. They want to destroy our country and blame it on the black guy. donna has done nothing but flip flop day in and day out spouting whatever talking point she saw on faux news the night before (and he can remember through his hangover induced by cheap rot gut whiskey he spent his government check on). He doesn't care if one minute he is criticiizing the President for being weak and the next minute the President 'thinks he is King and can do whatever he wants'. He sits in his trailer pretending to be a woman pounding out his right wing tirades day in and day out. donna only cares about soldiers when it is politically convenient to do so (like about 97% of the righties on here). If it killed a Brigade of soldiers to create a .3% drop in President Obama's poll numbers, donna and her lackeys would sign off on it requesting to go for a 10% drop. Troops, their families, and Vets... none of thesefolks mean anything to donna.... just a crazed old lady (man) and her cats... drunk in some trailer park in some loser red state.....

    June 6, 2014 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  18. Dean

    Calling Hillary a 'snake'...is a disservice to snakes. She's just as arrogant as Obama, but not as incompetent. A Hillary presidency would probably result in revolution.

    June 6, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  19. Marcus (from...?)

    'Sniffit – First Coburn giving diagnoses based on short videos and now CNN reading tea leaves. What a fun day in Prognosticationville. Idiots. '

    Don't be too harsh on CNN.
    They have a jobs report fresh and good to render at least four tickers...
    All they have to do is use it.

    June 6, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |