It’s been clear for some time that neoconservatives would prefer Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump, for a host of different reasons–and one big reason.
Writing in the New York Daily News, Michael Tracey judges the neocons-for-Hillary alliance a “strange relationship,” and worries that by using her neocon endorsements as a political cudgel, Clinton risks “rehabilitating” their reputations, which would threaten to allow them eventually to “accrue renewed prestige and eventually insinuate themselves back into positions of power.”
I don’t think there’s anything strange about the relationship at all, and it was foreordained that the neoconservatives would return to positions of political power.
Consider: Clinton is a thoroughgoing war hawk, whose considerably more dovish husband signed the Iraq Liberation Act into law after the neocons brought it to his desk. My former colleague Gene Healy has been attempting to tag her campaign with a line she used describing her time as first lady: “I urged him to bomb.”
As Tracey’s piece points out, Robert Kagan’s wife Victoria Nuland was a high-ranking official in Hillary Clinton’s State Department–well before the rise of Trump. Kagan has been writing passionately against Trump in the Washington Post, holding fundraisers for Clinton, and telling anyone who will listen that Trump is a danger to the republic.
The way Clinton, Nuland, and the rest of the Clinton forces behaved while in office shows why Kagan’s enthusiastic about their return. When there were disagreements about foreign policy within the Obama cabinet, Clinton was on the side of the hawks every time, including her preference to attack the Assad regime in Syria using the U.S. military. (Clinton’s likely Secretary of Defense nominee, Michele Fluornoy, holds the same view.)
The substantive policy difference between the neocons and the Clinton people at this point seems to be that the Clinton people are willing to say that if they could, they would go back in time and reverse their positions on Iraq, while the neocons mostly refuse to admit it. That’s not much of a substantive policy difference.
And consider at the same time that Trump’s bizarre antics and his campaign’s apparent inability to control him have left Clinton the perfect opening to make a tantalizing political argument: “only a tiny rump of radicals, racists and weirdos support Trump. Even the Republicans know I’m a steadier hand!”
Neoconservatives and Clintonista foreign policy hands are two sides of the same coin. Combine that fact with the fact that using her neocon–ahem, Republican–endorsements as a weapon against Trump makes good political sense, and you see that the alliance isn’t strange at all. For either side.