On Thursday, Hillary Clinton gave a foreign policy speech in San Diego that was notably flat and misleading. It’s been getting decent reviews in the mainstream media for the zingers she tossed at Donald Trump. But when you listen to the speech (you can watch it here) and think about it, you realize how insipid and unoriginal it really was.
Here are my thoughts on Clinton’s speech:
1. The speech featured the usual American exceptionalism, the usual fear that if America withdraws from the world stage, chaos will result. There was no sense that America’s wars of choice in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, etc. have greatly contributed to that chaos. Oh, there was also the usual boast that America has the greatest military. That’s what Imperial and Nazi Germany used to boast — until the Germans lost two world wars and smartened up.
2. Hillary mentioned we’re electing “our” next commander-in-chief. No, we’re not. The president is a public servant, not “our” commander-in-chief. The president serves as the civilian commander-in-chief of the military, and the military alone.
3. Hillary mentioned the US has a “moral obligation” to defend Israel. Why is this? Sure, Israel is an American ally, but why is Israel the one country we’re “morally” obligated to defend? There’s only one country we’re morally obligated to defend, and that’s the USA, assuming our government is actually honoring the US Constitution.
4. The speech had no new ideas. It was a laundry list of neo-conservative principles about making America stronger, safer, and so on. As a friend of mine put it, “Nothing that I heard her say deviated in any way from her hawkish record of recommending bombing at every opportunity.”
5. Hillary seems to have two speech-giving styles: a somewhat bored monotone and a somewhat agitated yell. A line like, “this isn’t reality TV, it’s reality,” should have been a big applause line, but her delivery was flat and her timing was off. In this case, style and substance met as one.
For many people who are leery of a Trump presidency, Hillary’s hawkish and colorless conformity to the Washington system is more than enough to qualify her. If she wins the presidency, she will be much like Brezhnev and Andropov, senior apparatchiks of an empire in denial of its own precipitous decline.