Get Out of Your Own Way, Hillary Clinton

Swinging too hard at the president suggests that she hasn’t learned her lesson from 2008.

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Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama

Saul Loeb/Getty Images

Hillary Clinton needs to get out of her own way—that is, if she wants to be president.

But something tells me she hasn’t learned her lessons from 2008.

On CNN recently, she seemed to take a swing at President Barack Obama, saying that she doesn’t think the U.S. has done a very good job of streamlining our foreign policy agenda so that other nations have a solid understanding of “who we are and what we stand for.” In the middle of that swipe, she even hat-tipped—wait for it—Bush 43. She’s impressed by how well sub-Saharan Africans took to America after the success of his anti-AIDS initiatives and implied that the U.S. ought to be doing more projects like that. In an interview with The Atlantic, Clinton took a shot at Obama’s “don’t do stupid stuff” foreign policy doctrine. She obviously didn’t get his sarcasm and said she thinks that his guideline is not meaty enough for other nations to follow.

And when you think about it, it’s sort of a self-incriminating slight, right? After all, she served under Obama as his secretary of state—the very position that is in charge of engaging with other nations and monitoring how America is perceived worldwide.

But I get it. She’s probably distancing herself from Obama because he’s not the most popular guy right now on the foreign policy front. She could also be trying to rebrand herself as the new and revamped ambassador for the Democratic Party—seeing as Americans have had it up to here with both her party and the Republicans.

But the jab still came off a tad foul—and, well, elitist. It reminds me of how the Clintons—Hillary and Bill—sometimes seem to act as if they could be doing a better job in the White House than the man who’s currently up at bat.

Remember how flabbergasted and disgusted the Clintons were during the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries, as they watched a then-Sen. Barack Obama muscle his way up to the front of the line, and essentially skip over Hillary Clinton? Bill Clinton described Obama’s campaign as “the biggest fairy tale” he had ever seen. And she acted as if she didn’t understand basic arithmetic, refusing to accept the fact that Obama had simply won more delegates than she had. Clinton took her sweet time announcing her resignation from the race—long after it was settled—and even when she did, she was sort of smug about the whole thing.

All this reminiscing isn’t helping Hillary Clinton. One trip down memory lane will have you giving her serious side-eye. She, however, must never forget that Obama took down the Clinton machine because he was smart, charismatic and, more important, never acted as if he were entitled to the presidency. He presented his ideas as alternatives to the status quo and, generally speaking, respected his peers.

Clinton’s recent phone call to Obama—to walk back this perception that she’s coming for his neck—was a nice gesture, but the deed has already been done. She should tread lightly if she wants to be referred to as Madam President come 2017.

Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele is a staff writer at The Root and the founder and executive producer of Lectures to Beatsa Web series that features expert advice for TV and film’s most complex characters. Follow Lectures to Beats on Facebook and Twitter.

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