CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, introducing a panel discussion on Monday’s "The Situation Room," asked concerning Hillary Clinton’s "obliterate Iran" comments, "[I]s Senator Clinton's tough talk against Iran part of a larger move to the right?" The chyron or graphic on the screen that accompanied the discussion seemed to give Blitzer's question an air of certainty: "Inside Her Move to the Right: How Clinton's Redefining Herself."
Each member of the panel, all contributors to CNN, had a slightly different answer to the question. Jack Cafferty quipped "it's another attempt to pander to voters, to, you know, to sound tough on national security." CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger thought "she's really running a classic Republican campaign against Barack Obama" and that Hillary "feels she has a real opportunity here, if she turns Obama into a liberal." And CNN senior legal analyst Jeff Toobin labeled her comments "more populist than right-wing." Blitzer also made an uncharacteristic move by quoting from the conservative publication, The Weekly Standard.
The discussion, which began just after the bottom of the 6 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, immediately followed a report by Suzanne Malveaux concerning Hillary’s Iran comments. After Blitzer made his "move to the right" comment, he characterized the debate between Clinton and Obama over a response to a hypothetical nuclear attack on Israel by Iran as a quibble over her use of the word "obliterate." When he asked Cafferty for his take on the issue, the CNN commentator gave one of his typically cynical answers. "I don't think the Iranians are under any illusions. I'm sure they're fully cognizant that some sort of a naked act of aggression against Israel would rain hell on Earth down on their heads, regardless of whether John McCain, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama was sitting in the Oval Office." He then made his "sound tough on national security" remark.
Blitzer then addressed Borger, and quoted from a recent article by Noemie Emery in "The Weekly Standard."
BLITZER: Is she running to the right already, Gloria? I'll read to you a quote from an article that's in the issue -- the new issue of ‘The Weekly Standard,’ a conservative publication: ‘Against an opponent who shops for arugula, hangs out with ex-Weathermen and says rural residents cling to guns and to God in unenlightened despair at their circumstances, she has rushed to the defense of religion and firearms, while knocking down shots of Crown Royal and beer.’ A pretty good quote. But what do you think?
GLORIA BORGER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think she's really running a classic Republican campaign against Barack Obama. She is portraying him not only as non-substantive, but not as tough as she is on the defense and foreign policy. She's also portraying herself as the populist -- the person who cares about the real people. She's the patriotic one. I mean this is -- this is right out of the Republican playbook. And she's using it, to some effect, against Obama, who, I might add, has given her a few openings in these last few weeks. So, it's working.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I'd call it more populist than right-wing. I think an important part of Hillary Clinton's campaign at the moment is attacking the oil companies, attacking the greed of corporations. That's not right-wing. I mean the corporations are generally favored by Republicans. So this is a real attempt to be tough, but in a populist way.
Borger reponded to Toobin by focusing on Hillary’s possible motive in making this move. "Well, it's also an effort to attract those independent voters who may be voting in Indiana; also, those Republicans who could cross over. I think she feels she has a real opportunity here, if she turns Obama into a liberal, to kind of get that middle that he has been doing well with."
Hillary turning the already left-wing Obama into more of a liberal?