This morning's Examiner story on Sandy Berger's reported role as an advisor to Senator Hillary Clinton has generated quite a stir. The Clinton campaign refused comment to the Examiner but has subsequently claimed Berger has no formal role in the campaign. According to Senator Clinton herself, "He has no official role in my campaign. He's been a friend for more than 30 years. But he doesn't have any official role." Asked if he was an "unofficial advisor," Clinton said, "I have thousands of unofficial advisers," said Clinton, "and, you know, I appreciate all of that. But he has no official role in my campaign." "Like many people he offers advice, but he has no official role in the campaign," a campaign aide also told CNN.
The Clinton campaign's disavowal of any official role for Berger has led some to suggest that there was never anything to this story. The Examiner did not break this story in today's article, however, nor is it an invention of the "right-wing blogosphere." A month ago Newsweek reported that Berger is part of Senator Clinton's triumverate of key foreign policy advisors. (I blogged on the story here, which is why I was quoted in the Examiner story.) On Oct. 2, the Washington Post also listed Berger as one of three key Clinton foreign policy advisors (along with Richard Holbrooke and Brian Atwood). Other sources have made similar claims in the past month or so. Yet as far as I am aware, none of these reports prompted any disavowal of Berger's role, perhaps because none of those reports prompted much critical response.
I hope the latest reports that Berger has no "official" role in the Clinton campaign are accurate, and that Berger will not be a foreign policy player in any future Democratic Administration. A less equivocal disavowal would be nice, thought. I would think it would be relatively easy for Senator Clinton to disavow any Berger involvement, official or otherwise, in advising her or her campaign. As one of my colleagues e-mailed me about the story:
I am a Democrat and a Hillary supporter, but I find her decision to bring Berger on to be appalling. He is lucky not to have done jail time. And while there may be some second acts-- e.g. Elliot Abrams-- I would think that there should be a decent interval of shunning first.It is hard for me to believe that there are not similarly qualified individuals with equivalent foreign-policy views on the Democratic bench. What makes Berger unfit is his repeated and deliberate theft and destruction of materials from the National Archives, actions for which he has never had to fully account. While Berger initially sought to claim the thefts were a "mistake," he subsequently acknowledged that he had been "giving a benign explanation for what was not benign."
UPDATE: I meant to add that it was odd the Examiner suggested I am a "Clinton admirer." Yes I find her to be an impressive politician, but I'm hardly her biggest fan.
SECOND UPDATE: Some Kossacks wonder "What the hell is she thinking?"