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May 18, 2014 8:22 PM It’s the Foreign Policy, Stupid

By Martin Longman

Dan Balz talks about a potential presidential run by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont in today’s Washington Post.

Some people believe Sanders has little to lose in such a campaign. Perhaps. When asked if he is concerned about the prospect of [Hillary] Clinton claiming the nomination without being challenged, he said, “It’s not just acclamation for Hillary, it’s that there are millions and millions of people out there — I see them every day — who are hurting, who are struggling. . . . Somebody has got to defend those people.”

Balz got Sanders to express his admiration for Clinton’s work on women’s rights and children’s issues. And Sanders was generally unwilling to badmouth her or her potential candidacy. But he did say this:

“If she does run, will she be as strong as the times require in taking on the billionaire class that has so much power? I’m not sure that she will be,” Sanders said during an interview in his Senate office. “Will she be as strong as needs be to address the crisis of climate change? I am not sure that she will be. Will she be as strong as needs be to take on the power of Wall Street? I’m not sure she will be.”

“These are extraordinary times, which require a boldness and an aggressiveness that I’m not sure her past history suggests is there,” Sanders said. “I am not sure that she has been — ” He paused and caught himself. “Well, that’s all. I’m going to leave it at that.”

Not a word about foreign policy.

My problem is that Hillary Clinton, or any other potential president, can be as aggressive as they want to be about campaign financing and regulating Wall Street and addressing climate change, but they can’t make the Republicans pass a bill to even keep the government open or force them to pay our bills on time, let alone get them to pass progressive legislation.

If Hillary Clinton becomes our next president there is a decent chance that she’ll sweep into office with huge majorities in Congress. But, if she doesn’t, about the only area where she’ll have a mostly free hand is in foreign policy. As Secretary of State, was she an advocate for getting us mired down in Syria? Has she learned anything from her vote to authorize force in Iraq? Does she have the right kind of judgment to prevent us from having another foreign policy disaster?

I want a progressive challenger who will explore these questions. Because we could magically make Bernie Sanders our president tomorrow and he wouldn’t be able to do one thing more than Obama is doing on the issues Sanders seems so concerned about.

Desire is not enough. You have to destroy the Republicans’ power to resist if you want to make any progress.

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