Steve Chapman
Hillary Clinton has obvious attractions for liberals. She offers a solid chance of extending Democratic occupancy of the White House for four or eight years. She would realize the dream of a female president. She would appoint justices to stop the rightward drift of the Supreme Court. She would drive the tea party even crazier.

Not to mention that she's one of them. She tried to overhaul health insurance long before Obamacare. When she was a senator, the liberal blog Daily Kos gave her a lifetime rating of 94.4 (100 being the most liberal), the same as Ted Kennedy. Her 1990s credo was "It takes a village to raise a child" -- a collectivist mantra if there ever was one.

But if they mass behind Clinton's presidential candidacy, liberals will be making a Faustian deal. They may get the White House. But if they expect her to implement an ambitious domestic agenda, they are in for a painful shock. It's not that she wouldn't like to achieve it. It's that her priorities will make it impossible.

Those priorities became clear this week in her interview with Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, which she used to highlight how much more hawkish she is than that guy she used to work for.

She thinks the United States should have done more to help the Syrian rebels, must get over its habit of "hunkering down and pulling back," and needs an "overarching" strategy to combat Islamic terrorism. "I'm thinking a lot about containment, deterrence and defeat," she said.

Of Russian President Vladimir Putin's aggression against Ukraine, she implicitly blamed Barack Obama for not being assertive enough: "In the world in which we are living right now, vacuums get filled by some pretty unsavory players."

This is not an about-face for Clinton, who has always been partial to solutions that involve bombs, bullets and boots on the ground. She voted for the Iraq invasion. She pushed Obama to use air power against Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi.

As secretary of state, she favored a bigger surge in Afghanistan than Obama ultimately approved, and she wanted to keep combat troops there longer than he did. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates wrote that he heard her tell Obama, "The Iraq surge worked" -- and that she opposed it only for political reasons.

Hawks would feel vindicated if Clinton were elected. The Weekly Standard, a tireless advocate for the Iraq war and any other possible war, excerpted The Atlantic interview under the headline, "Special Guest Editorial: Obama's Foreign Policy Failures." Right-wing radio host Laura Ingraham said, "She sounds like John McCain."

Steve Chapman

Steve Chapman is a columnist and editorial writer for the Chicago Tribune.

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