After a week of sometimes rocky interviews promoting her new book, "Hard Choices" about her years as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton largely kept her footing in Tuesday night’s 30-minute Fox News interview with Greta Van Susteren and Bret Baier.
Mrs Clinton looked composed and confident in her interview, and avoided major gaffes such as her claim last week that she and Bill Clinton were “dead broke” when they left the White House in 2000.
For a figure as political and polarizing as Hillary Clinton is, Tuesday night’s interview was an accomplishment.
When it came to the terror attack on Benghazi, Clinton was able to use the complexity of the attack and its aftermath to her advantage. She frequently reminded the audience of the “fog of war” that makes it impossible to know everything at the time it was happening.
When it came to the Bowe Berdahl prisoner swap, she got lucky with her defense of her statement that the five freed Taliban prisoners represented no threat to the U.S. She noted the prisoners would be under close supervision by authorities in Qatar and couldn’t travel. What wasn’t mentioned is that the Taliban are free to leave Qatar in a year so Clinton wasn’t pressed to explain what would prevent them from rejoining a jihad then
When asked about the 64% of Americans who believe the U.S. is on the wrong track, Clinton handled the question well, pointing out that “we need to get back on track” but managing to avoid direct criticism of her old boss, President Obama.
She did put some distance between herself and Obama on the IRS scandal, making it clear she agreed that any controversy involving that powerful agency should concern Americans. She implied she didn’t think it was the kind of “phony scandal” the president has dismissed it as. She called for a continued investigation into wrongdoing at the IRS but insisted it be depoliticized as much as possible.
For a figure as political and polarizing as Hillary Clinton is, Tuesday night’s interview was an accomplishment. She was able to project a “kinder and gentler” image.
All in all, her opponents were given no new ammunition but supporters of President Obama were put on notice that she will continue to distance herself from his policies in both subtle and not-so-subtle ways.
John Fund is the national affairs correspondent at National Review Online.