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HRC’s Foreign-Policy Foot Soldier

The New York Post on Monday reported that Sen. Clinton has hired "one of Bill’s former foreign-policy foot soldiers" to communicate her message on national security and Iraq.  

Heather Hurlburt is a former speechwriter for President Clinton and Secretaries of State Warren Christopher and Madeline Albright.  She has also worked at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, is currently U.S. deputy director of the International Crisis Group (ICG), an international non-profit working to prevent and end conflicts, and she blogs on DemocracyArsenal.org.  

Hurlburt is not your average peacenik, however, as she is widely known to have a rather hawkish view on foreign policy, at least compared to her fellow Democrats.  A few months ago, reports the Post, Hurlburt "kicked Democrats in the pants for ‘plenty of hand-wringing…in the face of [President] Bush’s saber rattling’ on the war and national security."  

Hurlburt gained a slight measure of fame for a Washington Monthly essay she wrote a few years back that urged Democrats to get serious about foreign policy and national security matters.  The article, which ran a month after the Democrats fall 2002 election debacle, said that the party could not hope to "regain credibility with voters on national security until we learn to think straight about war," and that "we will never learn to think straight about war until this generation of professional Democrats overcomes its ignorance of and indifference to military affairs."  

Hurlburt revealed an interesting take on how foreign affairs were viewed in the Clinton White House.  Late in the second Clinton administration, she was tasked with writing a speech outlining the administration’s overall approach to foreign policy.  Although national security adviser Sandy Berger was originally fairly excited about giving the speech, Hurlburt says it never was delivered.  Why?  Because "None of the White House political staff took any interest in it," she wrote.  "Eyes didn’t just glaze over; they rolled when I mentioned it. Why did I want to work on something so dull, when I could be writing about the budget battle?"  

She wrote, "Getting Democrats to take defense issues seriously will not be easy; it means changing the party’s basic mode of thinking.  But it can be done.  After all, it took less than a decade for Democrats to go from being the party of deficits to being the party more trusted for fiscal responsibility.  This transformation happened because enough Democrats got tired of losing elections and did the hard work of crafting innovative and effective ideas in areas like crime and economic stewardship that the party had previously ceded to Republicans.  National defense is perhaps the last big area where Democrats have not really done this.  And in a time of war, it’s the one area where they can’t afford not to."  

This sounds exactly how Sen. Clinton has handled her foreign policy positions, save for an occasional demagogic remark to the Moveon.org crowd.  Hurlburt’s Washington Monthly essay appeared in December 2002, a month later Sen. Clinton was awarded a seat on the prestigious and influential Senate Armed Services Committee.  

It sounds like Hillary and Heather are made for each other.  Hurlburt will be receiving more than $20,000 for her services, which is being paid out of Hillary’s re-election and political action committees.

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