Look to the lady who could lead
Hillary is facing a Monica moment. With the unveiling of the Benghazi catastrophe, ‘disgraceful, embarrassing and deadly’ is the obvious description used to portray current U.S. foreign policy. This is a narrative that could have been avoided, if the people responsible listened to the warning signs, we know this. But even after September 11, numerous opportunities have been squandered to share the truth about the Benghazi attack and the death of four Americans. What disappoints millions of voting Americans is the haze of information surrounding the attacks, the lack of clarity regarding who is in charge, and the pitiful, flawed leadership.
The implications are stunning. Joe Biden’s comment: “We did not know that they [Ambassador Stevens and Americans] wanted more security there” in Libya, parallels Bill Clinton’s, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman…Monica Lewinsky,” statement. The additional excuses surrounding the Benghazi attacks, now publicly questioned, are deplorable and unconvincing. However, let’s not look to Joe Biden who has been on the wrong side of American foreign policy consistently for 30 years, let’s not look to the overall wobbly nature of leaders in the Obama Administration thanks to Valerie Jarrett and Obama himself.
It’s time now that we reflect on the true leadership of a woman who had clear, decisive, and powerful leadership. She was a lady among the firsts, not the first Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, nor the First Lady Hillary Clinton (who claims many firsts), but the first lady Prime Minister of the UK, Margaret Thatcher.
The precision of Thatcher’s decision-making was exceptional. She stood by her open choices, nothing was hidden, she followed through with principled conviction when many around her surrendered to political convenience, and once her assessment was made rarely did Thatcher ever back down. True she had one of the blessed political unions of the century with Ronald Reagan, and their combined strength was in foreign policy. The most striking example between Thatcher and Reagan was their response to Cold War strategies, which strengthened and compounded one another. They stood firm in the face of the Soviet deployment of cruise and nuclear missiles. Thatcher was an ironclad lady, yet softened by the Hollywood personality and tough spirit of a gentleman. The political cooperation between the U.S. and UK amidst criticisms of higher military spending was challenging, but the collective leadership by Thatcher and Reagan was crucial to ending the Cold War.
Why is this reflection so important now? At the center of the Benghazi questioning, Americans are witnessing the opposite of the Thatcher legacy; the Obama Administration is desperately vacillating. The choices that have been and continue to be made do not produce answers, the wavering choices the Obama Administration makes simply produces more questions.
Political pundits are recalling Hillary’s trend of standing by her man. Hillary’s decision to repair her marriage with Bill after his numerous and very public extra-marital affairs is her personal choice and her blessing to forgive. Likewise, Hillary decided to suspend her 2008 Presidential Campaign and support Obama, a massive decision she needed to weigh carefully. But when Hillary chose to end her opposition to Barack Obama she was also choosing to enter a new relationship with him, and more importantly a subsequent political marriage or union with the American people as Secretary of State, for better or worse. Hillary now faces a very similar defining moment with Barack Obama as she did with Bill, with the exception of one key distinction. Will Hillary stand among the betrayers or among the betrayed? She has clear and distinct choices here. Hillary can remain in the Obama Administration and face the political consequences of her decision, or Hillary can abandon the Obama Administration and come clean about what really happened. Hillary’s decision needs to be crystal clear, as significant as an earnest utterance from the Iron Lady Margaret Thatcher.
Hillary faced a personal dilemma when she had to decide whether to remain married to Bill, when it came to marital infidelity. But the decision she faces between now and November 6 is far more serious, it is a question of national political infidelity, her commitment to U.S. national security. Hillary knows Obama has been unfaithful to this country, a majority of the public are now aware of Obama’s infidelity to his Presidential Oath. Hillary is at a crossroads. Will she overlook the political betrayal going on in Obama’s Administration or will she sever the political union with Obama? The world is watching very closely. Hillary’s decision to be with Bill is a very personal one and something that should be left up respectfully between them both. But Hillary’s decision to remain with Obama is a very public decision and could undeniably affect her relationship with Americans forever.
When Obama, Biden and Hillary cannot do their jobs without blaming someone else, when they are unable to work together coherently and successfully on foreign policy, this is a telltale sign of confusion, desperation, and incompetence. This is the opposite of Thatcher and Reagan’s relationship and Thatcher’s tactful leadership.
Let’s look at what has been: the details of failures that have occurred over the past few months by the Commander in Chief, the Vice President, and the Secretary of State. But let’s also look at what could be when we view the history of dedicated leadership particularly when it comes to women like Margaret Thatcher effectively guiding her country in difficult times, making the tough choices to be honest, adhering to principled conviction, and never cowering to lies and deception.
Originally posted at the Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research