Barack Obama just officially announced his choice of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. At one point during the press conference, Obama was asked to comment on some of his quotes during the campaign undermining Clinton’s credentials on foreign policy, including the statement that her world travel amounted to “having teas” with foreign leaders. Obama said that he understood that the press would be having fun “stirring up” quotes from the heated campaign, when in reality he’s always admired and respected Clinton. However, I think by focusing on some of the choice quotes, the media is understating the differences between the two on foreign policy during the primaries. Obama’s argument against Clinton during was not rooted in the idea that she was exaggerating her accomplishments — that was just one of many side arguments. The central critique Obama offered was that America needed to fundamentally change the direction of its foreign policy, not just change the party in power. Obama spoke of moving beyond “conventional Washington thinking” — personified by Hillary Clinton and her support for the Iraq War. So one of two things happened. Either Clinton has embraced Obama’s vision for fundamental change, or Obama has succumbed to “conventional Washington thinking.”
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