Hillary Clinton is being skewered on social media for the above promotional video promoting her upcoming Columbia U. course “Inside the Situation Room.” Clinton was brought onto the faculty to co-teach the offering, which is open by application only to students attending the university’s School of International and Public Affairs and undergraduates from Columbia College, Barnard College, and the university’s School of General Studies.
Some of the criticism is in line with that of Glenn Greenwald and other Clinton adversaries who regard her as a warmonger. “The US official who has urged more wars than anyone over the last 3 decades with the possible exception of John Bolton – including Iraq, Libya, Syria, and now Ukraine – is teaching Columbia students a class called ‘Foreign-Policy Decision-Making.’ And boy they’re excited!” Greenwald tweeted. The rest of the brickbats are aimed at the video itself, which the Blaze described as “cringy.”
Oh, it’s that, all right. But both critiques are unfair, at least regarding Hillary. Regardless of what Clinton’s policies and proclivities were, she certainly has sufficient background in the field of international diplomacy and foreign policy decision-making to provide students with useful perspective. The press release about the course promises that students will learn “how to analyze and understand the complex interplay between individual psychology, domestic politics, public opinion, bureaucracy, the international environment, and other factors which feed into decisions about foreign policy,” including the “use of force, signaling and perception, intelligence and its analysis, the deployment of other instruments of statecraft, and more.” Hillary is qualified to provide guidance and the benefit of her experience on all of that. I’d take the course, just as I took the negotiation seminar taught by Adrian Fisher, who was the principle U.S. negotiator of the SALT Treaty.
The critique of the goofy video is certainly called for, but Hillary is innocent. She didn’t write, direct or conceive the stupid thing: that’s on the university. Nor is her the quality of her performance being fairly knocked: she’s a lot better than her stiff co-instructor, who has the ineffable air of a bad community theater actress about her. Helen Mirren couldn’t make that script work; I think Hillary was a good sport to do the video, lame as it was. She had just joined the faculty, and she was being cooperative, collegial, and willing to spoof herself to boost student interest.
Well, good for her. I came away from that video liking her more than I did before seeing it.