In another indication that Hillary Clinton is laying the groundwork for a 2016 Presidential run, the former first lady made an affirmative connection with the Administration of President George W. Bush Sunday — further distancing herself, in the process, from the festering public perception of fellow Democrat, former employer and current President Barack Obama.
Appearing on CNN, Clinton insinuated she doesn’t think much of the way Obama advocates his idea of American exceptionalism to the rest of the world, telling Fareed Zakaria that American ideals, under Obama, are being “taken for granted.”
Democracy has triumphed. This is the end of history. That was so short-sighted. And now we are in this period where we have to go back out and sell ourselves. It’s not to be taken for granted. What do we stand for and how do we intend to lead and manage? How do we try to enlist the rest of the world in this struggle between cooperation and order and conflict and disorder, which is really at the root of so much that’s going on today. And I don’t think we’ve done a very good job of that.
Sounds like she pines for the days when Presidents understood their role as evangelists for America. Citing an example of a President “selling” America to the rest of the world, Clinton pointed to our outreach in sub-Saharan Africa. But, in spite of Obama’s focus on helping to develop Africa’s national economies with U.S. dollars, it wasn’t Obama’s leadership she had in mind — it was Bush’s:
You know, George W. Bush is very popular in sub-Saharan Africa. Why? Because of PEPFAR, the President’s emergency program for AIDS relief. Whether you agree or disagree with a lot of what else he did, and I disagree with a lot of it, I am proud to be an American when I go to sub-Saharan Africa and people say I want to thank President Bush and the United States for, you know, helping us fight HIV/AIDS. You know, we spend a lot of money and a lot of time and effort trying to be influential around the world when I think we would be able to succeed more effectively if we were clearer about who we are and what we stand for and the values that we hold, obviously tempered by experience and the competing interests that we face.
She didn’t elaborate on her understanding of what America’s values are, or which of them the President should be promoting abroad. But she did make it clear that should she campaign to become President, she’d rather be mentioned in the same sentence with a Republican nemesis than the unpopular Democratic incumbent whose nominal support will only damage her chances.