By Jonathan S. Tobin
After getting a good scare from a challenge from Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton has regained a sense of inevitability about her quest for the Democratic presidential nomination. The reason for this is partly due to the inherent implausibility of Sanders’ candidacy as well as Clinton’s improvement as a candidate after a series of awful public blunders largely related to an inability to explain the Clinton Cash charges or her email scandal. But if, despite their misgivings about her honesty and her political skills, Democrats are falling in line behind Clinton, it is also because the emergence of terrorism and foreign policy as the key issues in the 2016 election has undermined any sense that Sanders can exploit a left-wing populist insurgency against a friend of Wall Street and the Clinton Foundation’s large donors. But their reliance on the former secretary of state’s resume to ensure that the Democrats aren’t seen as the party associated with a failed war against ISIS may be a mistake.
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Clinton committed a terrible blunder at the Democratic presidential debate on Saturday night when she said that the administration was “right where we need to be” in the fight against ISIS. After working hard in recent months to create some daylight between the president’s faltering war against ISIS and her own positions, that phrase fatally links her to Obama’s record on terror at a time when the majority of Americans correctly understand that the U.S. lacks a strategy to defeat the terrorists. She then went on to make a demonstrably false claim about Donald Trump that enabled the GOP candidate to spend his time on the Sunday morning talk shows correctly pointing our her mendacity and playing the victim.
Both statements are proof that a) She may have an advantage on foreign policy against Sanders and Martin O’Malley, but that wouldn’t apply against a plausible Republican, and b) Her supposedly improved political skills may not be as improved as her handlers and Democratic Party loyalists hope.