- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 6, 2003

Two top public officials went to Iraq in the last two weeks. One was President Bush. He was cheered by troops who expressed what appeared to be genuine affection for him. The other was Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat. She found it difficult to locate soldiers wanting to dine with her, according to some press reports.

While praising the troops, Mrs. Clinton questioned the administration’s postwar policy, a distinction I find inconsistent. The Nazi leadership believed the troops at Auschwitz also did a “good job.” The policy and the performance go together, don’t they?

After returning home, Mrs. Clinton charged that President Bush is conducting the war according to a “political calendar,” that he had dispatched the “wrong mix of troops” and that victory “is not certain.” Her solution: turn Iraq over to the United Nations, an organization that passed more than two-dozen toothless resolutions promising dire consequences if Saddam Hussein failed to comply.

Mrs. Clinton has finally spoken on a subject she knows: political calendars. She and her husband were experts at making no decisions without considering the political benefits and fallout during their eight-year “co-presidency.”

Mrs. Clinton would be a declared presidential candidate for 2004 if the polls showed President Bush vulnerable and the economy not rebounding from the (Bill) Clinton recession. If the postwar effort continues to improve, on what issue would she or any Democrat have to run? Better to flip the political calendar over to 2008 when she thinks she’ll have a better chance.

It is particularly disturbing that Mrs. Clinton can’t seem to find a single good thing to say about the president. This, more than anything else, makes one realize she is operating strictly according to her own political calendar. It is also what disgusts so many people about the political process. Power and privilege are all she seems to care about (like a lot of other Democratic and Republican career politicians, too) rather than saying and doing things that benefit and strengthen the nation in its hour of great need.

It has always been this way with her. She has suffered the indignities of a wronged wife, and she is determined to get what she thinks is her reward — the presidency. Her socialized health care proposal was rejected by a Democrat-controlled Congress with more experience in these things than she has. She now intends to impose it one step at a time.

Taxes? She never met any she didn’t like. She opposed the Bush tax cut, and even now with the stock market about to hit 10,000 again and the economy showing its strongest growth in two decades, she seeks more money for government to misspend. She opposed the president’s “jobs and growth package,” repeal of the “death tax,” repeal of the marriage penalty tax, repeal of the 1993 tax increase on Social Security benefits. But as New York’s Newsday reported last November, “Most economists agreed with the White House that much of the job growth could be traced to the series of tax cuts passed over the past two years and to the 45-year-low interest rates set by Federal Reserve Bank.”

Demonstrating her inexperience in military matters, Mrs. Clinton told reporters “the easy part [of the Iraq invasion] was the military part.” Apparently it did not occur to her that the planning and execution of the operation were so good that it looked easy. Would she have preferred failure?

If she runs for president and wins, she would arguably be the most liberal president this country has ever had. While she is operating according to her own calendar, someone had better be calculating how to stop her politically in 2008, or this country will face a threat unlike any it has ever known.

Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist.

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