Vanity Fair's Hitchens somehow missed ample evidence that Clinton is respected by military leaders

››› ››› LAUREN AUERBACH & MEREDITH ADAMS

On MSNBC's 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, discussing the possible appointment of Sen. Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, Christopher Hitchens said of Clinton: "It's only true that she's respected in the Pentagon if people go around saying so. I've never heard that before." In fact, media outlets have previously reported that Clinton "has gained a lot of respect among military leadership" and has "built relationships" with military leaders such as Gen. David H. Petraeus and Adm. William J. Fallon. Clinton also received the endorsement of numerous retired generals and admirals during her 2008 presidential campaign.

On the November 18 edition of MSNBC's 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, David Gregory hosted Vanity Fair's Christopher Hitchens to discuss the possible appointment of Sen. Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. During the discussion, Hitchens stated of Clinton: "It's true that she's got a major name on the world stage. That's true by definition. It's only true that she's respected in the Pentagon if people go around saying so. I've never heard that before, I must say." In fact, media outlets have previously reported that Clinton "has gained a lot of respect among military leadership" and has "built relationships" with military leaders such as Gen. David H. Petraeus and Adm. William J. Fallon. Further, Clinton received the endorsement of numerous retired generals and admirals during her 2008 presidential campaign.

There have been numerous media reports that Clinton is respected by military leaders, including the following:

  • On March 27, 2007, The New York Times reported: "Privately, two current military leaders who have testified before the Armed Services committee, and who by custom do not comment publicly on political figures, said they both found Mrs. Clinton conversant about the military and thoughtful in her questions." The Times further reported:
    Active-duty generals have sought her out, and she has reached out to them. Among those with whom she has built relationships are Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq, and Adm. William J. Fallon, the new head of Central Command. Recently, too, James T. Conway, the commandant of the Marines, invited her to be his guest of honor at the "Sunset Parade" at the Marine Corps War Memorial in Washington, a high-profile tradition. (She has accepted.)
  • In an August 20, 2006, cover story, Time reported that, "When Hillary was first elected, General John Keane, then Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, sought an audience" with Clinton and that "[w]hen he finally got in to see her, however, the meeting did not go as he had expected. For starters, it lasted 45 minutes. 'She committed immediately to West Point and the 10th Mountain Division, with follow-up on-site visits,' he says. 'But it was her enormous depth of knowledge about the military and her sincerity about our people which surprised and disarmed me.'"
  • On the January 27, 2007, edition of CNBC's Tim Russert (accessed via Nexis), NBC chief Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski stated:
    And what may be surprising to quite a few Americans is the fact that Hillary Clinton has gained a lot of respect among military leadership because she seems to be more measured and thoughtful in terms of her dealing with the military. And when she was criticized for criticizing, herself, the U.S. plan in Iraq while she was in Baghdad, many compared her to Hanoi Jane when -- you know, during the Vietnam War. What she did is she was essentially telling the American people what the generals just told her in private. So it took me by surprise when I started hearing from some of the officers in the military, saying, "You know, that Hillary makes a good point."
  • A December 12, 2005, Newsweek article (accessed via Nexis) reported:
    It is no accident that hawks inside and outside the military are reconsidering Hillary Clinton. She may have entered the Senate in 2001 with three strikes against her -- she was a woman, a Democrat and a Clinton. But Senator Clinton immediately began a methodical campaign to undo her image as a dovish liberal with no interest in military affairs. Post 9/11, she was quick to recognize that Democrats -- and especially one all but openly running for president -- were vulnerable on defense issues. It was a trap she has seemed determined to avoid.

    [...]

    For her efforts, she has begun to win respect within military circles. Retired Gen. Jack Keane, the former vice chief of the Army whom she's consulted about Iraq, says he's praised her to "the guys"--meaning the Pentagon brass.

In addition, a May 10, 2005, Village Voice article (accessed via Nexis) quoted former House Speaker Newt Gingrich saying of Clinton: "Senator Clinton is very competent, very professional, very intelligently moving toward the center, very shrewdly and effectively serving on the Armed Services Committee," and quoted Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution saying, "She's doing a fantastic job, and I'm not in any way a Hillary fan." The article added: "Neither are Republican members on Armed Services. Yet Clinton has managed to impress them with her thoughtfulness and knowledge. John Ullyot, the spokesperson for the Armed Services Republicans, calls the New York senator 'a very valued member of the committee.' "

Further undermining Hitchens' suggestion that Clinton is not respected by the military, Clinton was endorsed by numerous retired generals and admirals during her 2008 presidential campaign.

Clinton also received the Military Coalition's 2005 Award of Merit, the Military Coalition's "highest honor" bestowed by the group, which is "comprised of 35 organizations representing more than 5.5 million members of the uniformed services -- active, reserve, retired, survivors, veterans -- and their families."

From the November 18 edition of MSNBC's 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue:

HITCHENS: At least on health care, she knows enough about the subject to have really changed American health care for the worse in her time. But foreign policy -

DAVID GREGORY (host): And, yet -

HITCHENS: -- about foreign policy, she doesn't even know that much.

GREGORY: But, she's respected in the Pentagon. She's certainly --

HITCHENS: Says -- it's true if you say so.

GREGORY: -- has an important name - an import - an important name on the world stage.

HITCHENS: That's true.

GREGORY: And is more hawkish than the president she might serve.

HITCHENS: It's true that she's got a major name on the world stage. That's true by definition. It's only true that she's respected in the Pentagon if people go around saying so. I've never heard that before, I must say.

On some things, she's more hawkish than the president-elect, yes. But she tends to have acquired this reputation in what I'd call an opportunist manner. I mean, who - who really thinks that she felt that strongly about Iraq? She just didn't want to cast her vote the other way.

GREGORY: We'll leave it there.

Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Christopher Hitchens
Show/Publication
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Stories/Interests
Propaganda/Noise Machine, Hillary Clinton
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