Another week has come to a close and as usual there are many stories that capture our attention. Still no sign of MH-370 despite herculean underwater search efforts (and of course many continue to believe that the plane is somewhere other than in the water) and there is an active and increasingly dangerous terrorist group operating in Nigeria. Boko Haram is not a big group and yet the Nigerian Government is ill equipped to handle bringing them to justice and the group seems to be making the country pay a price for snubbing its recent offer of a prisoner exchange. Since Boko has threatened American interests (partly an effort by the group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau to assume the mantle of the late Osama Bin Laden and partly because there is a $7M bounty on his head) it seems plausible that U.S. Special Forces may assist in curbing their ascendance before it becomes even more difficult-we already have a reported 100 or so forces on the ground but we are told they are there mainly as oversight for drones. Bombings, attacks on whole villages and the kidnapping of hundreds of school-aged girls just begin to describe this group. As they get bolder and succeed with more elaborate attacks they will no doubt be funded by other bad guys (and regimes) and will continue to recruit young men looking for a leg up, a way out, something to belong to. It is the history of most terror groups repeated.
An early week head-scratcher that got a fair amount of play was the suggestion by Republican strategist Karl Rove that Hillary Clinton may be too old and/or not quite healthy enough to seek the Presidency in 2016. While I don’t subscribe to many of Rove’s tactics he has been a pretty sharp operative as measured by getting candidates elected. This observation seems sure to backfire amongst a constituency that is critical in any election (women accounted for 53% of the total vote in 2012) and since this would appear to have been predictable, one has to wonder if Rove has lost a step. Obama won the female vote in 2012 by 12% over Mitt Romney. Polls show that women appreciate a good fight on the issues but they resent (as they should) cheap shots, which this clearly seems to be given Hillary’s current clean bill of health (she is documented to have had a concussion which took a few months to fully recover from). These subtle attacks are more likely to work when people think reflexively rather than having plenty of time to consider it. The problem in this case is that the next Presidential election is a couple of years off and people have plenty of time to consider it. An awkward exclamation point to this whole affair comes from a well known former Rove associate (who happens to be a woman).
“Former White House Communications Director Nicolle Wallace, who worked with Rove in the George W. Bush administration, called Rove’s comments “off the wall.”“I worked with Karl for a long time. This was a deliberate strategy on his part to raise her health as an issue and, I think in his view, a legitimate line of questioning ahead of the next campaign,” Wallace said on MSNBC Tuesday.She added that Rove’s “attack seemed out of place, out of time and some of the basic facts seemed to be wrong.”
Regardless of one’s political leanings, there is little question that Hillary is a more formidable candidate now than ever. She has been a U. S. Senator, Secretary of State, First Lady, Lawyer, Board Member, Mother…and that may only be the half of it. Few people will have stood for election with as much experience if she does decide to run. Therefore it is pretty clear that attempts to define her must begin in earnest now. The Benghazi attacks that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and Sean Smith, a Foreign Service Officer, are considered a black eye during her tenure at State and the Republican Party is bringing out its stalwarts to drive that point home. I have no problem with attacks on the issues but I do wonder about the wisdom of having former Vice President Cheney, one of the least liked politicians in recent memory, carry the message. The messenger matters in politics. If we don’t like the messenger then we may be inclined to think the exact opposite of what he/she is telling us to think. Where Hillary is concerned I expect the proverbial kitchen sink to be unloaded on her if she becomes the Democratic nominee. Much of this unloading will be treading a well worn path and of course this could be one reason among many that she may ultimately decide not to run. I’m not betting on that at this point.
The election is a long way off and there is much ground to cover (probably more than any of us want to bear) between now and then but it is interesting to see some of the early jockeying.