"You know, I'm not going to get into hypotheticals and make pledges, because I don't know what I'm going to inherit," Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) told ABC's George Stephanopoulos, according to the New York Times. "I don't know and neither do any of us know what will be the situation in the region. How much more aggressive will Iran have become? What will be happening in the Middle East?
"How much more of an influence will the chaos in Iraq have in terms of what's going on in the greater region?" she continued. "Will we have pushed Al Qaeda in Iraq out of their stronghold with our new partnership with some of the tribal sheikhs or will they have regrouped and retrenched? I don't know and I think it's not appropriate to be speculating."
Cernig isn't at all impressed with her statement on ABC's George Stephanopoulos show and says so:
Of course it's appropriate to be speculating, you weasel-worded harridan! Bush is speculating, the U.S. top officials in Iraq are in front of Congess speculating, every foreign policy thinker on the planet is speculating!
Look, either Hillary believes that the foreign policy debacle which the Iraq occupation has created will get worse if the U.S. stays or she doesn't. Either she thinks the continued U.S. presense incites increased violence and division or she doesn't. Either she believes a U.S. withdrawal will heat the Iraqi civil wars or she doesn't. Either she thinks Iraq is a frontline in a cold war against Iran or she doesn't.
She's already well informed enough - or should be - to venture an opinion on the biggest foreign policy question of the coming election and if she isn't then she shouldn't be running. Sitting on the fence trying to please all the people all the time won't cut it for anyone because people will see a prevaricator, not a president.
I agree, given this particular statement, that she could be much more forthcoming than that. In fact, it does appear, she is trying to do a little fence sitting here with the old tried and true "I'm not going to get into hypotheicals" defense. I'd suggest most Americans feel such an refusal on those grounds is a dodge to avoid answering the question (that's not to claim that is always the case).
However, on another show on the same day Clinton, appearing on Face the Nationsaid this:
"No matter how heroically and dedicated the performance of our young men and women and their officers are in Iraq - which it has been - they cannot referee successfully a sectarian civil war," Clinton told Bob Schieffer. "So I voted against funding last spring. I will vote against funding again in the absence of any change in policy."
Clinton said, if elected president, she would set deadlines for withdrawing the majority of U.S. combat troops from Iraq, but said there would be a continuing American military presence in Iraq.
"I am committed to bringing the vast majority of our troops home, and I will begin to do that as soon as I am president," Clinton, the early front-runner for the Democratic nomination, said.
Clinton said she recognized "there will be remaining missions" for American forces in Iraq, but she said they would not require the roughly 100,000 troops expected to be in Iraq when the next president takes office. She listed counterterrorism, protecting U.S. personnel and training Iraqi forces as the other missions.
"That's the right way to go because that is a much clearer definition of what we're trying to accomplish than what we face today," Clinton said.
On the one hand she refuses to address hypotheticals because she claims she doesn't know what she'll face.
On the other hand, she is actively attempting to effect the outcome and obviously has specifically decided that what she will face will certainly not require the 100,000 troops which are expected to be there in January of '09.
But no "hypothetical" involved there, huh?
Which of these is the real Hillary Clinton? Or are both of them her? I'm beginning to believe the latter to be the case.
the old tried and true "I’m not going to get into hypotheicals" defense. I’d suggest most Americans feel such an refusal on those grounds is a dodge to avoid answering the question (that’s not to claim that is always the case).
Like most such linguistic tricks, this one was largely introduced to U.S. national politics by Bill Clinton as he sought to suirvive impeachment. The Bush Administration (Karl Rove) has obviously studied Clinton’s maneuvers, has refined them, and implemented them in policy arenas (whereas with Clinton it was mainly for personal political gratification). Now, of course, these tricks are SOP for national politicians. I am curious as to when, in a principled way, refusing to answer such "hypotheticals" is justified.
If Hillary doesn’t think it’s appropriate to speculate, maybe she shouldn’t be putting herself in a position where everyone is asking her, "In the event that you become President of the United States, what will you do?"
I think the first time anybody in this discussion, or even in the nation, will ever see anything near the real Hillary is approximatley 6 months after her inauguration (should she win). That will give her just enough time to wear out the so-called "honeymoon" period for an administration and into the first real debatable action - the war. Will she pull the plug or won’t she? Until that moment, she is nothing but a facade, a landscape, a painted face in a play, scenery painted for the sole purpose to ensure she is elected - nothing more, nothing less.
You know, I’m not going to get into hypotheticals and make pledges, because I don’t know what I’m going to inherit,
I’d be inclined to cut Hillery some slack on this one. She’s quite correct when she states that she doesn’t know what the situation is that she’ll be inheriting. Why should she tie her hands now before she’s even elected or had a chance to review all the data?
I am curious as to when, in a principled way, refusing to answer such "hypotheticals" is justified.
If they’re completely unrelated, extremely unlikely, or offensive.
That, indeed, is a pricipled distinction. Would that it were applied rather than that ubiquitous partisan division: It’s OK when my guy does it and it’s not OK when your guy does. When we have manged to get past such simplistic, antagonistic, duopolistic thinking then we are quite far along our way to solving most of the pressing problems we face.
I tend to answer "hypothetical" questions (and I get quite a few, since I teach) by saying, "then let me set up some hypothetical facts and you understand that, absent these hypothetical facts, the answer is even less than hypothetical, it’s non-existent." That usually confuses them enough to allow for some interesting debate. (I’ve also answered, "hypothetically, if your aunt had wheels, she’d be a tea trolley. In that case, what kind of tea would you serve from her?" They don’t get that one, either.)
I don’t like hypotheticals most of the time because they’re not really designed to elicit additional information.