Rumors that Henry Kissinger is going to back Hillary Clinton has some liberals upset

Historians in the News
tags: Hillary Clinton, election 2016, Henry Kissinger

Michael Tomasky is a Daily Beast special correspondent and the editor of Democracy: A Journal of Ideas. Follow Michael Tomasky on Twitter at @mtomasky.

First things first: A source close to the Hillary Clinton campaign tells me that there has been no outreach to Henry Kissinger. This whole welter of outrage started when Politicoreported the other day, according to their own unnamed “person close to Clinton, that “feelers” had been “sent out” to Kissinger, George Schultz, James Baker, and Condoleezza Rice. My source says that maybe someone affiliated with the campaign—a person in a foreign-policy advisory role, say, who number in the hundreds—put out such a feeler but insisted that no one with real authority, a John Podesta or Jake Sullivan or what have you, had made any such overtures.

But the hubbub is real. What’s it about? At bottom, it’s about the vast distrust and suspicion of Clinton in certain left quarters, ever on the lookout for signs that she’s going to sell out or cave in or start World War III. Alas, her record does give us a few reasons to decide that vigilance along these lines is prudent and required. But this big a fuss—my pal Charles Pierce at Esquire went so far as to say that if she accepts the backing of the old abattoiriste, he’s voting for Gary Johnson—over one endorsement? (Charlie lives in Massachusetts, which, as he notes, Clinton couldn’t lose if “she drank a polyjuice potion and campaigned here transformed into Alex Rodriguez.”

Granted, Kissinger occupies a, ah, unique position. He’s a war criminal. Not convicted of course, but in my view and the view of millions. And although he has never faced the bar of international justice over East Timor or Chile or his sabotaging of the Paris Peace Talks, he is very careful about where he travels and lives with the ignominy of knowing that when The New York Times posts his obituary, there are going to be some well-earned negative adjectives in the very first paragraph.

So I cringed and winced and made gurgling sounds when Clinton praised Kissinger in that one debate. It was only about her managerial skills (“I was very flattered when Henry Kissinger said I ran the State Department better than anybody had run it in a long time”), but still. She should have known better than to mention his name. In a Democratic debate! Against Bernie Sanders. Who appropriately pounced.

She seemed totally unaware of how anathema Kissinger is on the left. This reflects her view of the world to some extent but even more dramatically reflects what kind of history she reads (and what kind she doesn’t) and most of all the circles she runs in. Those circles include Kissinger himself. The Clintons and the Kissingers have spent holidays together. More than once. Yuck. ...

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