Commentary Magazine


“They’re Both Not Ready to Have That 3 A.M. Phone Call”

Did John McCain say that? Nope. Susan Rice, a top Barack Obama advisor, said it–about Clinton and her own advisee. That, fundamentally, is the problem with the Clinton attack and Obama’s counterattack. (“I know she talks about visiting 80 countries. It’s not clear, ya know, was she negotiating treaties or agreements or was she handling crises during this period of time? My sense is the answer is no.”)

Now, she may argue, and I think she is slowly getting around to this, that she is just tougher and more savvy about the world than Obama. The problem there (at least in a primary) is that, as a Clinton advisor let on, “Military stuff just doesn’t make it with Democratic voters.” Nevertheless, Clinton does not need to become Bush-lite to convince Democratic primary voters that there is something flimsy and unrealistic about Obama’s approach. (Is Obama still going to have tea with Hugo Chavez or would he ask that Chavez stop supporting FARC and undermining his Columbian Colombian neighbors first?) This ultimately makes him vulnerable to a McCain attack in the general election. In this regard, McCain’s capture of the nomination provides Clinton with a talking point about who is best able to go toe-to-toe with him. As the national security issue transforms into an electability issue, it becomes more potent for voters, and more importantly, for those superdelegates who will ultimately put one of the candidates over the 2025 delegate total.

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