Hil­lary Clin­ton’s mo­ment

Pakistan Observer - - FRONT PAGE - ANDREW J BOWEN

FBI Direc­tor James Comey’s ethi cally ques­tion­able de­ci­sion to note in a vaguely worded let­ter to Congress the dis­cov­ery of a new batch of emails po­ten­tially linked to Sec­re­tary Clin­ton cer­tainly is an “Oc­to­ber Sur­prise.” It’s an un­wel­come dis­trac­tion for Clin­ton who sought to turn the re­main­ing days of this long elec­tion sea­son as Amer­i­cans go to vote as a ref­er­en­dum on Donald Trump’s fit­ness more so than her own. While her eth­i­cally ques­tion­able use of a pri­vate email server is back on vot­ers’ minds, it’s not likely to de­rail the over­whelm­ing prob­a­bil­ity of Hil­lary Clin­ton be­com­ing the first woman to be elected pres­i­dent of the United States.

This mo­ment may be a brief re­prieve for the blood­let­ting and chaotic end of days of the Trump can­di­dacy, but ar­guably, the dam­age has been done too much for Trump to se­cure the elec­toral votes needed to be­come pres­i­dent.

His mes­sage cer­tainly still reso- nates among a num­ber of vot­ers and the “move­ment” he helped en­er­gize will live well be­yond Trump. How­ever, Donald Trump’s in­abil­ity to con­trol his tem­per­a­ment, re­peated per­sonal mis­judg­ments, and boor­ish re­marks un­der­score that Donald Trump “the can­di­date” ver­sus “the man” is a chasm too great to bridge to at­tract any vot­ers be­yond his con­stituency.

In many a sense, Donald Trump, sim­i­lar to Jean-Marie Le Pen in the case of his daugh­ter Marine Le Pen, may need a more so­phis­ti­cated suc­ces­sor for his pol­i­tics to suc­ceed if there ever were any. It’s not sur­pris­ing then to imag­ine Ivanka Trump run­ning in 2020 or 2024 against Time Kaine. Ivanka sim­i­lar to Marine may have to cut the chord from her fa­ther to suc­ceed.

The idea that the in­creas­ingly fed­eral scan­dal­ized Gov. Chris Christie or for­mer Speaker of the House Newt Gin­grich could pick up the or­ange pop­ulism torch and fin­ish this “Olympic” marathon to the White House in 2020 seems far off. If one is bet­ting on Gov. Mike Pence, as pop­u­lar within the party as he is com­pared to his run­ning mate, Pence is a can­di­date who likely wouldn’t have won re­elec­tion as gov­er­nor in his home state.

While Trump will un­likely go qui­etly into the night af­ter Nov. 8, the mo­ment is now for Hil­lary Clin­ton. Un­like Pres­i­dent Obama, Clin­ton will not have as strong of political man­date to gov­ern as he does nor will she have the pop­u­lar res­o­nance he ex­udes. How­ever, Clin­ton will likely get a lot more done as pres­i­dent than Obama ever did.

Her steely prag­ma­tism and vague com­mit­ment to ide­ol­ogy will al­low her to make the deals to advance her do­mes­tic agenda that Obama could never do. This sim­ply is why many of the more ide­o­log­i­cal and pop­ulist fig­ures within her party such as Bernie San­ders and El­iz­a­beth War­ren so be­lat­edly em­braced her, but still frankly don’t trust her.

For all the talk about her sup­port for left­ist pol­icy is­sues, a Pres­i­dent Clin­ton will likely do just enough to sat­isfy the more ide­o­log­i­cal as­pects of her party’s base, but not enough to alien­ate the cen­trist and undecided vot­ers she needs to both win con­trol of Congress in 2018 and be re-elected in 2020. It’s not a sur­prise then that there’s not a lot of deep love for Clin­ton as dif­fer­ent fac­tions within her party jockey to em­power and block po­ten­tial of­fi­cials from fill­ing key ad­min­is­tra­tion po­si­tions once she’s elected.

It’s then in this mo­ment Pres­i­dent Clin­ton will gov­ern come Jan­uary 2017. If she wins the Se­nate in Novem­ber, she will cer­tainly have a lot more space to take risks both do­mes­ti­cally and abroad. If the Democrats fail to re­tain con­trol of the Se­nate, Clin­ton will likely fo­cus her first two years in of­fice on do­mes­tic chal­lenges to re­gain con­trol of the Se­nate and pos­si­bly, the House in 2018.

One shouldn’t then ex­pect a com­plete bold about-face in US for­eign pol­icy. A Pres­i­dent Hil­lary Clin­ton may have more hawk­ish in­stincts and less ide­o­log­i­cal bag­gage about Amer­ica’s role in the world as Pres­i­dent Obama did, but un­like Obama, she’s more de­ter­mined than he is to stay in power through 2024, an up­ward chal­lenge for a political party in power since 2008.

Clin­ton will have to tem­per those in­stincts with a coun­try still not very keen on in­ter­na­tion­al­ist en­gage­ment abroad whether it’s the Mid­dle East, Asia, or East­ern Europe. Her com­mit­ments to the US’ al­lies will not be as for­ward reach­ing then as some may have hoped. Rus­sia, more so than any chal­lenge, will be the first bell­wether to watch out for of what Clin­ton’s mo­ment means abroad. —Arab News

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