- - Thursday, May 15, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

It is a sign of Barack Obama’s receding presidency that Hillary Clinton is drawing more attention from the national news media and political power brokers.

As the president goes through the speechmaking and ceremonial motions of what is left in his second term, most of the talk here is about her carefully calculated bid for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

The Washington press corps can become quickly bored by a presidency that seldom makes news anymore, and President Obama now rarely makes the front pages of our big-city daily newspapers. At least, not lately.

The Washington Post’s front-page story Thursday is a case in point. The headline was “Clintons take on critics in GOP,” followed by two secondary headlines about the larger story at play here: “Clearer signs of a candidacy” and “Next, a book tour that could be a rehearsal.”

Mr. Obama was trying to make news of his own Wednesday, but not the kind that lands on the front page or leads the nightly news.

He was in Tarrytown, N.Y., talking about spending more money on the nation’s infrastructure and creating jobs that are in short supply nowadays. He’s talked about it before, with little effect. The Post buried the story on Page 2.

Hillary is politically hot right now and clearly getting more attention from Democrats, who see her as the only hope of holding the White House, and from Republicans, who say we can’t afford eight more years of Democratic rule.

The former secretary of state, who stepped down from her post in February 2013, has been on a whirlwind tour ever since, hitting her party’s key special-interest groups: Women’s organizations one day and the Israeli lobby the next.

Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, has been making the rounds, too, talking up her credentials and defending her from Republican attacks, such as the one GOP strategist Karl Rove fired this week that raised questions about the state of her health.

While Mr. Obama was out of town for a couple of days, the Clintons were speaking at major venues and clearly campaigning for Mr. Obama’s job.

Mr. Clinton was in Washington touting Hillary’s work on boosting educational opportunities for low-income children and talking up his own job-growth record in his second term — a not-so-veiled reminder of Mr. Obama’s failure to strengthen economic growth.

Hillary was addressing the pro-Israel American Jewish Committee, struggling to make the case that as secretary of state, she worked to slow Iran’s nuclear development.

However, her record of accomplishments on that score and as the nation’s chief diplomat is pretty thin.

“When I left as secretary and passed the baton on to Secretary [John F.] Kerry, we were positioned to explore whether we had set the table well enough to see changes that were sufficient to meet our legitimate objections to Iran’s behavior,” she said.

Israel may beg to differ with her recollections on this. We are nowhere near meeting U.S. or Israeli key objections to the nuclear threat that Iran still poses.

This week, Mr. Rove was the first high-profile GOP critic to raise questions about what he termed “a serious health episode” — he never used the term “brain damage” — in December 2012 when Mrs. Clinton suffered a concussion after a fainting spell.

She was hospitalized for three days, but details of her illness have remained a mystery. She will be 69 years old in 2016.

She faces bigger obstacles, though, in her quest to become the nation’s first female president, which go to the heart of her meager experience, flawed by a history of multiple public-policy failures.

She cannot point to any major achievements during the four years she spent as secretary of state. She traveled widely and gave many speeches, but her record is a limited one.

If her years at State are remembered for anything, it will be the deadly and preventable terrorist attack in the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, when U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed.

There have been numerous investigations and hearings by House Republicans who have charged that the State Department tried to cover up the fact this was a terrorist attack. Their initial explanation was that it started as a spontaneous Islamist “protest” against a YouTube video.

Not true. Mr. Obama was seeking re-election at the time on a platform that he had al Qaeda terrorists “on the run” and that their ranks were “decimated.” Stevens sent repeated requests to the State Department for added security, but they were denied or ignored on her watch. House Republicans formed a select committee just last week to dig further into the scandal, and Mrs. Clinton will be a major target of their inquiry.

She has had a checkered past, starting with her role as first lady in designing a national federal health care program that was bitterly branded by GOP leaders as “Hillarycare.”

It was so complex that even some of her allies said they didn’t fully understand how it worked. In the end, it was so unpopular that Democratic congressional leaders refused to bring it up for a vote.

She served for eight years as the senator from New York, with no significant accomplishments to speak of. She left behind a record of voting for every big tax-and-spend Democratic bill that came before the chamber.

There’s another, bigger issue that may well prevent Hillary from moving back into the White House. After eight years of Mr. Obama’s failed, leftist, jobless policies, will voters want another eight under Hillary?

Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and contributor to The Washington Times.

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