Clinton’s latest attack line against Donald Trump: how dare he criticize U.S. generals. But does she remember what she said in 2007?
U.S. generals and admirals have become the theme of 2016 race this week, as the candidates tout their endorsements among the top brass. Trump announced the endorsements of 88 retired generals and admirals on Tuesday; on Wednesday, Clinton announced that she had 95.
But on Wednesday evening, Trump said the below in an exchange with NBC’s Matt Lauer:
“The generals under Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have not been successful. Under the leadership of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton the generals have been reduced to rubble, reduced to a point where it is embarrassing for our country…I have great faith in the military. I have great faith in certain of the commanders, certainly. But I have no faith in Hillary Clinton or the leadership.”
In a press conference the following morning, Clinton said Trump “trash talked American generals” and slammed him as “unqualified to be commander in chief.”
The opinion that Trump expressed above is hardly unique to Trump. Retired General Michael Flynn seconded Trump’s statement, saying on Fox News that “there’s a severe disconnect between this White House and frankly the president and our military.” Politico wrote an expose back in 2013 titled “Obama vs. the Generals.”
But to think that Hillary Clinton views U.S. generals as irrefutable or untouchable requires a massive ‘delete’ of an episode from 2007.
The date was 9/11/2007, exactly nine years ago this Sunday. General David Petraeus, the senior American commander in Iraq, appeared before the U.S. Senate to testify about the troop surge in Iraq and push back against the troop withdrawal favored by Democrats. Clinton, who was still a senator and running for president at the time, not only told Petraeus to his face that he was failing, but essentially called him a liar:
“You have been made the de facto spokesmen for what many of us believe to be a failed policy. Despite what I view is your rather extraordinary efforts in your testimony both yesterday and today, I think that the reports that you provide to us really require a willing suspension of disbelief.”
Here’s the video.
There’s more – the day prior, MoveOn.org ran a full-page ad in Section A of the New York Times with the provocative headline “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?” Clinton was asked about the ad several times, and voted against a Senate resolution denouncing the ad, before she finally condemned it. Even Slate admitted it was “way too late.”
But putting MoveOn.org aside, Donald Trump’s position is really not that much different from the Democrats’ point of view in 2008. If, by Hillary Clinton’s own words, having doubt with or criticizing the work of U.S. generals makes you “unqualified” to be Commander in Chief, she already failed her own litmus test.