Talk about your back-handed compliment.
The White House said Monday that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is not part of the foreign-policy “blob” in Washington that was disparaged by a key aide to President Obama in a magazine interview.
But Mrs. Clinton, who clashed with Mr. Obama over the Iraq war, also was lumped by the White House into the category of presidential advisers who too often turn to military solutions.
The awkward dance by the White House came as press secretary Josh Earnest tried to explain comments by deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes. In an interview with The New York Times magazine last week, Mr. Rhodes expressed disdain for the foreign-policy establishment in Washington as “the Blob.”
Asked if that term included Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Earnest said, “I’m not even sure what that means.”
He said the president “has benefited tremendously” from the advice of Mrs. Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination. He also mentioned current Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Vice President Joseph R. Biden.
“These are all people who have a lot of experience,” Mr. Earnest said.
Then he said Mr. Obama tries to incorporate their advice, “but also make sure he’s thinking smartly about the most effective way to use U.S. influence” in foreign policy. He said there’s a tendency among such officials “to turn to the military option, in the president’s view, often prematurely.”
He said Mr. Obama tries to guard against advice that “prioritizes the use of the United States military.”