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Opinion: Columnists

Bad timing bedevils both Obama and Hillary Clinton

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Opinion,Noemie Emery,Columnists,Barack Obama,Hillary Clinton,Iraq,Benghazi,Libya,Bowe Bergdahl

Timing is everything, along with location; for President Obama and Hillary Clinton, it has now become toxic, beginning about midday May 31.

That was when Obama arrived in the Rose Garden with Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's parents to announce he had exchanged the Taliban prisoner and possible deserter for five of Guantanamo Bay's most dangerous terrorists, which he thought ought to make the country euphoric, but made much of it angry as hell.

How could he know that trading five killers for someone who wandered off and into the hands of his captors would not induce raptures? And how could Clinton know that her launch, planned with even more care than the invasion of Normandy, would be subsumed in one of the biggest weeks for news ever, so that only a handful of gaffes — i.e., ‘dead broke’ and ‘Senator’ Abraham Lincoln — would manage to break through the noise?

In the past two weeks, her four years at the State Department have become a distinct liability, with Iraq joining Egypt, Libya, Syria and Ukraine as one of a number of places whose prospects have worsened dramatically under her watch and that of her president. And then the news broke that NBC had paid her daughter Chelsea $600,000 a year for what New York Magazine has called "basically nothing," which will be a big help when she runs on the issue of income disparity, which she plans upon doing next year.

Some on the right think Obama wants Iraq to dissolve, to prove the war was as "dumb" as he thought it, in the hope that the country would hold whatever occurred against George W. Bush. This might have worked had the rest of the world been in order, but as it is the hell in Iraq seamlessly flows into the hells in Syria, Libya, Egypt and even Ukraine as parts of the world Obama is failing to master and where his "lead from behind" manner of statecraft has utterly failed to hold sway.

This happened again at a very bad moment, as the Bergdahl exchange further frayed his standing with the American military and opened the question of whether the terrorists he released in the bargain would strike at this country again. And the potential candidacy of Clinton is untimely again, as it means that through 2016, Benghazi will be front and center again.

But no timing was worse than Obama's statement on June 11 to an informal group of young Tumblr users that the advance of progress was ever more upward and the world more peaceful and tolerant than ever before, just as thousands of peaceful and tolerant Islamist jihadis surged through northern Iraq and almost to Baghdad, lopping off heads galore on the way.

When liberals hastened to blame this on Bush, Sen. John McCain said the war in Iraq had been won when Bush left it, and strangely enough, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden agreed. Iraq would be "one of the great achievements of [Obama's] administration," Biden said on "Larry King Live" in 2010.

"We’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq," Obama said almost two years later, also describing Iraq as a crowning achievement. "We are ending a war not with a final battle, but with a final march toward home."

What one event occurred between this crowning achievement and the chaos around us? The departure of the entire American presence.

Timing is everything, and that was bad timing. And timing will have its revenge.

Noemie Emery, a Washington Examiner columnist, is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and author of "Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families."
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