TIME 2016 Election

Hillary Clinton Avoids Hard Choices in Hard Choices

US-POLITICS-CLINTON-BOOK-ILLUSTRATION
Hillary Clinton's memoir titled "Hard Choices" after its release on June 9, 2014 in Washington. Eva Hambach—AFP/Getty Images

It reads like—and is—a political campaign book

The first thing to get out of the way is this: Hillary Clinton is running for President in 2016, even if she says on Page 595 of her new book, Hard Choices, “I haven’t decided yet.”

Without the reality of a coming candidacy, the rest of the book just doesn’t make any sense. This is a campaign book, written by a candidate (via her speechwriters), processed through a political machine, and delivered to the public with the contradictory goals of depicting the author as a decisive leader and not betraying any evidence of leadership that would turn a voter off. Here is how the candidate-without-an-official-campaign describes the choice facing the country in the next presidential election:

Ultimately, what happens in 2016 should be about what kind of future Americans want for themselves and their children—and grandchildren. I hope we choose inclusive politics and a common purpose to unleash the creativity, potential, and opportunity that makes America exceptional. That’s what all American people deserve.

Real people who aren’t running for office do not write like this. They do not think like this. They do not try to string together feel-good words in decisive ways that pretend at taking bold stands on the future without actually taking any stand. There are no clear-thinking Americans who do not want “inclusive politics” or “common purpose.” There is no one in public or private life in this country who does not want to “unleash the creativity, potential and opportunity” of the nation. So why write it? Because it is campaign mumbo-jumbo, and campaign mumbo-jumbo works if you want to win elections.

Clinton is only able to say that she not yet decided about running for President because of a legal technicality: She has not yet declared that she is running for President. But in the current environment, and with this book, that should not matter. She is doing exactly what she would do if she knew she was going to declare. It’s as if she left her home, walked down the street to her local bar, took a seat on a stool, handed the barkeep her credit card, and then told him, “I haven’t decided whether or not to order a drink.” She still has time to choose not to order the drink. She may not be a candidate when the Iowa caucuses meet. But that shouldn’t prevent anyone from observing what she is doing in the meantime.

And what she is doing in this book is a thing to behold. Over nearly 600 pages, she gives a grand tour of American foreign policy as seen from the communications operation of the U.S. State Department. There are dozens of pages devoted to singing the praises—and naming the names—of the people she worked with and the things she accomplished. There are hundreds of pages of history, recounting the major events of the last five years in a useful, matter-of-fact voice that would be well-suited to a high school textbook. There are some wonderful admissions and asides, like her habit of digging her fingernails into her hand when she gets sleepy at meetings, or the time when former French President Nicolas Sarkozy declared, while watching a traffic jam of motorcades after a frustrating day of summits in Copenhagen, “I want to die!”

There are also carefully constructed personal recollections of some of the hard choices she made, like her support for the Osama bin Laden raid, with which President Barack Obama agreed, and her support for arming the Syrian rebels, with which Obama disagreed. But as often as not, the hard choices are so polished as to lose their edge. She admits to a shouting match with the former CIA director over whether or not to authorize a particular drone strike, but on the subject of her approach to drone strikes in general she offers only diplo-babble fortune cookies. She agrees with Obama that the strikes raised “profound questions,” and writes that it’s “crucial that these strikes be part of a larger smart power counterterrorism strategy that included diplomacy, law enforcement, sanctions, and other tools.” Got it?

There are other hard choices she clearly runs away from making. After mentioning the controversy over the National Security Agency’s mass collection of domestic phone records without a warrant, she offers a puzzle instead of a position: “Without security, liberty is fragile,” she writes. “Without liberty, security is oppressive. The challenge is finding the proper measure: enough security to safeguard our freedoms, but not so much (or so little) as to endanger them.” Even the NSA will struggle to decode that one.

She devotes an entire chapter to the need to take on climate change, imploring policy makers to save the world in the most vacuous language of policy making, which keeps rearing its head throughout the book: “Building a broad national consensus on the urgency of the climate threat and the imperative of a bold and comprehensive response will not be easy, but it is essential.” But she makes no mention of her position on the Keystone pipeline, which is arguably the most central domestic climate change issue she faced, and which coincidentally divides the Democratic Party.

Perhaps there is no reason to expect more from a politician in mid-stride. Barack Obama’s first book, Dreams of My Father, was widely hailed as a deeply personal literary work in its own right. The book he wrote before his 2008 campaign, The Audacity of Hope, was a far inferior list of policy maxims, Republican bashing and feel-good utopianism. But assuming she continues her campaign, Clinton has a problem to solve that Obama never had before he ran: She must convince voters both within and without the Democratic Party that she is a real person people can believe in, not just a political brand that is repolished and reintroduced to the public at regular intervals under the soft lights of a primetime television interview.

In Hard Choices, Clinton limits her personal admissions to the expected: Praise and pride in her daughter Chelsea, a tribute to her mother Dorothy, who passed in late 2011, and some glimpses of the personal toll of traveling 2,000 hours by plane to 122 countries over four years. Then, in the final pages, there is the hint of more:

Recently, Bill and I took another of our long walks, this time with our three dogs, near our home. It had been an unseasonably long winter, but spring was finally peeking through the thaw. We walked and talked, continuing a conversation that began more than forty years ago at Yale Law School and hasn’t stopped yet.

Do you want to know what happened next? What they talked about? How things have changed for the most storied political couple in the land? Well, you won’t find it here. The paragraph over, she changes the topic, and moves on, with no indication why the walk might have been important or interesting, or needed to be included in her book.

Clinton has made the hard choice to hide any details of the hardest choice to come in a book she calls Hard Choices. It’s exactly what candidates do—when they are preparing campaigns.

TIME Aviation

Feds Approve First Commercial Drone Flight Over U.S. Soil

AeroVironment’s Puma AE drone AeroVironment

Could pave way for more commercial drone use

Here come the drones.

The Federal Aviation Administration for the first time Tuesday authorized an unmanned aircraft flight for commercial purposes over American soil, a step toward wider use of drones by businesses in the U.S.

The oil and gas company BP and the drone manufacturer AeroVironment will fly the AeroVironment’s Puma AE to survey Alaska’s North Slope. BP will use the hand-launched drone—a small aircraft, 4 1/2 ft. long with a 9 ft. wingspan—to oversee maintenance activities on infrastructure, the FAA said.

“These surveys on Alaska’s North Slope are another important step toward broader commercial use of unmanned aircraft,” Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “The technology is quickly changing, and the opportunities are growing.”

While the FAA banned commercial drones in 2007, the agency still approves usage on a case-by-case basis, such as drones launched for academic research or public safety. And many drones have flown without FAA authorization, including a recent incident in which a drone almost crashed into an American Airlines jet in March. In a separate incident this month, the National Transportation Safety Board rejected a $10,000 fine the FAA had leveled against an operator for recklessly flying his drone, saying the agency didn’t have the authority to regulate that particular model of aircraft.

Over the last year, the FAA has sought to clarify rules surrounding commercial drone use. In November, the FAA released its first annual Roadmap to outline the efforts necessary to safely integrate drones into American airspace. One month later, the FAA agency announced six test sites—including the University of Alaska, where AeroVironment demonstrated its drone in September—to research operational risks, airspace integration and safety standards.

The FAA will integrate drones into U.S. airspace by September 2015 as mandated by Congress’ 2012 FAA reauthorization bill.

TIME Crime

Gunman Kills 1 At Oregon High School

Multiple agencies in armored vehicles swarmed onto the scene after shots were heard inside of an Oregon school Tuesday morning

Updated 4:36 p.m. E.T. on June 10

A lone shooter armed with a rifle opened fire at an Oregon high school Tuesday, police said, killing one student before the gunman was also killed. Police said later they believe the shooter may have taken his own life.

The Multnomah County Sheriff’s office confirmed the shooter’s death in an early Tuesday statement, saying the situation at Reynolds High School in Troutdale had “stabilized.” One teacher was treated at the scene for a non-life threatening injury, police said.

“This is a very tragic day, one that I had hoped would never ever be part of my experience,” Schools Superintendent Linda Florence said.

Police first received reports of gunfire at 8:07 am local time. Around 100 officers and emergency responders reported to the scene, KOIN 6 reports. Tactical units began a room-by-room evacuation of the building which had gone into lockdown shortly after the shots were fired. Pictures of armored SWAT vehicles parked outside the school cropped up on Twitter as multiple agencies, including the FBI, cordoned off the area.

“My heart is heavy after learning of this morning’s tragic events at Reynolds High School,” said Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber in a statement Tuesday. “Today Oregon hurts as we try to make sense of a senseless act of violence. Please keep students, staff, the extended Reynolds community and first responders in your thoughts and prayers.”

Local broadcaster KGW-TV showed footage of students leaving the building with their hands raised above their heads. Police said they were bussing the students to a nearby parking lot, where parents were told to meet the students.

Police said in a separate incident unconnected to the shooting they had found a gun on one of the evacuees, who was taken into custody.

About 2,800 students attend the school in Troutdale, an eastern suburb of Portland.

TIME Military

Bergdahl Deal Struck Only 1 Day Before Prisoner Swap, Top Democrat Says

“They knew an hour ahead of time where it was going to take place," said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)

The Obama administration cemented the trade to release Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl only a day before his June 1 release, a top Senate Democrat told reporters Tuesday.

“They knew a day ahead of time that the transfer was going to take place,” said Sen. Dick Durbin (D—Ill.). “They knew an hour ahead of time where it was going to take place.”

Durbin, the Democratic whip, put forward the last-minute nature of the deal as a reason why the White House did not inform Congress of the prisoner exchange 30 days beforehand, as some critics have said President Obama should have. The National Defense Authorization Act calls for the president to give 30 days notice when prisoners are released from Guantanamo Bay. Bergdahl’s release was secured as part of an exchange with five Taliban prisoners, who were released into Qatari custody.

“Are we saying that once we decided to do the prisoner transfer we had to wait 30 days to notify Congress?” Durbin said. “The President couldn’t do that. It was impossible. It could have endangered the man’s life if we waited 30 days. So we have a provision in the law about 30-day notification which doesn’t square with reality. Could anyone have contacted Congress sooner? Perhaps.”

Congressional lawmakers have expressed disappointment and even anger at not being notified of the prisoner swap ahead of time. Only Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was notified before the swap.

“It comes with some surprise and dismay that the transfers went ahead with no consultation, totally not following the law,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee told reporters a week ago. On Tuesday, Feinstein struck a different tone.

“I think we need to put an end to all of this now,” she said. “I think enough is enough. I think the Senate has had a hearing and the House has had a hearing,” she said.

“I think everybody has heard what they need to hear.”

TIME The Brief

Hillary Opens Up About Book, Not 2016

Welcome to #theBrief, the four stories to know about right now—from the editors of TIME

Here are the stories TIME is watching this Tuesday, June 10.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton opened up about her book to ABC’s Diane Sawyer, but remained mum on a possible 2016 presidential campaign.

In his first interview as President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko told TIME’s Simon Shuster that he must seek “an understanding” with Russia because no other country can guarantee Ukraine’s safety.

Donald Sterling decided to stop the sale of the Los Angeles Clippers after he learned that the NBA would not lift his lifetime ban.

And finally, Thailand’s Military Junta wants you to forget about the coup and be happy. The military government’s “happiness” music video went viral on YouTube.

The Brief is published daily on weekdays.

TIME Football

This Powerful Anti-Redskins Ad Will Play During the NBA Finals

The California tribe Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation paid to run the minute-long commercial during the NBA Finals

Sports fans will see more than ads for fast food, cars and beer during commercial breaks in Tuesday night’s NBA Finals. An anti-Washington Redskins ad will run during the game’s halftime, in the hope that the NFL will force the team to change its name from what many consider a racial slur.

The California tribe Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation paid to run the minute-long ad, an edited version of the commercial above, which was created by the National Congress of American Indians. Adweek reports that a 30-second ad slot cost advertisers $460,000 in the 2013 NBA Finals.

The ad, called “Proud to be,” highlights tribes across the country. The final voiceover says, “Native Americans call themselves many things. The one thing they don’t…” before flashing to an image of a Redskins helmet.

While the Redskins name and logo has been a source of controversy for decades, it received particular bad press after Clippers owner Donald Sterling was banned from the NBA for life after his racist rant was leaked to the public. NFL player Richard Sherman told TIME’s Sean Gregory that he didn’t think the NFL would have the same response.

“Because we have an NFL team called the Redskins,” Sherman said. “I don’t think the NFL really is as concerned as they show. The NFL is more of a bottom line league. If it doesn’t affect their bottom line, they’re not as concerned.”

The Redskins is preparing for a political fight over its name, hiring a lobbying firm in May after 50 Democratic senators sent the NFL a letter asking for a name change.

The National Congress of American Indians praised the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation for airing the ad during the NBA finals, and said it would send a “loud and clear” message to the league and the team.

“Contrary to the team’s absurd claims, this dictionary-defined racial epithet does not honor our heritage. The Change the Mascot campaign continues to gather strength every time that people are educated about the origin of the R-word and its damaging impact on Native peoples,” NCAI Executive Director Jackie Pata and Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter said in a statement. “By airing this ad during the NBA Championships, the message will be brought into the living rooms of millions of American all across the country.”

TIME Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton Revises Financial Status from ‘Dead Broke’ to ‘Obviously Blessed’

ABC News - 2014
Hillary Clinton talks with ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer for her first television interview in conjunction with the release of her new book on Monday, June 9. Martin H. Simon—ABC / Getty Images

Clinton walked back her statement on Monday that her family suffered financially after leaving the White House. "We’ve been blessed in the last 14 years," she said

Hillary Clinton offered a notable revision to her family’s financial history on Tuesday, walking back her Monday statement that her family left the White House “dead broke” and adding that they were “obviously blessed.”

Clinton was asked to address a critical backlash to her comments about working through a financial “struggle” by accepting lucrative book deals and speaking fees. The comments struck some critics as out of touch with ordinary Americans.

“Let me just clarify that I fully appreciate how hard life is for so many Americans today,” Clinton said in an interview with Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts. “Bill and I were obviously blessed. We worked hard for everything we got in our lives and we continue to work hard, and we’ve been blessed in the last 14 years.”

Asked about her description of financial distress, Clinton did not repeat the words “dead broke.”

“As I recall we were something like $12 million in debt,” Clinton said, before adding, “We have a life experience that is clearly different in very dramatic ways from many Americans, but we also have gone through some of the same challenges as many people have. I worry a lot about people I know personally and people in this country who don’t have the same opportunities that we’ve been given.”

TIME Education

Report Sees Surge in Sex Crimes on College Campuses

According to an Education Department report, the number of sexual assaults reported on college campuses increased from 2,200 in 2001 to 3,300 in 2011

The number of sex crimes reported on U.S. college campuses soared by 50% over the course of a decade, according to a new government report Tuesday, even as total campus crime decreased.

The federal Department of Education report looked at assault data up to 2011, when 3,300 forcible sex offenses were reported on campuses across the U.S. That was up from 2,200 reported sex assaults a decade earlier. University crimes in every other category decreased, said the report, which primarily focused on elementary and secondary school safety.

The increase in reported sexual assaults may not necessarily indicate an increase in assaults themselves, but rather a greater number of crimes being reported. Advocates say a marked increase in reports of sexual assault can be a sign that survivors are beginning to feel more comfortable going to authorities.

Even though the data ends at 2011, the prevalence of sexual assault, a crime that the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network says goes unreported 60% of the time, continues to be a national epidemic, particularly on college campuses. A May TIME cover story examined how even though the college town of Missoula, Mont. —nicknamed “America’s Rape Capital”—gained a particularly bad reputation for at least 80 reported rapes over the last three years, that figure wasn’t a surprising outlier but rather the norm.

The White House responded to a series of highly publicized on-campus rapes by releasing a set of guidelines in April urging universities to fight sexual assault, and to change reporting structures so that victims feel safe to come forward.

You can compare the number of incidents recorded on campuses using TIME’s interactive here.

TIME Afghanistan

Report: Friendly Fire Incident Kills 5 U.S. Soldiers in Afghanistan

Five NATO service members and one Afghan soldiers were killed in in what officials fear was a case of "fratricide"

Five U.S. soldiers and one Afghan soldier were killed in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, reportedly in an incident of friendly fire.

NATO said that the soldiers were patrolling a volatile region of southern Afghanistan when their unit came under enemy fire. An Afghan police chief told the New York Times that the soldiers were ambushed at close-range by Taliban militants. The soldiers radioed for air support, at which point a coalition jet mistakenly bombed their position, the Times reported.

NATO has not confirmed the details of the soldiers’ death, saying that the incident was still under investigation. “Tragically, there is the possibility that fratricide may have been involved,” read a statement from the International Security Assistance Force, NATO’s coalition force in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon confirmed that five U.S. troops had been killed on Tuesday. “Investigators are looking into the likelihood that friendly fire was the cause,” said Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these fallen.”

TIME olympics

Olympic Swimmer Amy Van Dyken Rouen Severs Spine in ATV Accident

Denver Broncos side line reporter for 850 KOA Amy Van Dyken. Reporting on the Broncos vs the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, October 7th, 2007 at Invesco Field. Andy Cross / The Denver Post
Amy Van Dyken reporting on the Broncos vs the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, October 7th, 2007 at Invesco Field. Andy Cross--Denver Post via Getty Images

The six-time Olympic champ was injured in an all-terrain vehicle accident on Friday and was airlifted to a Scottsdale, Ariz., hospital

Six-time Olympic gold medalist Amy Van Dyken Rouen was injured in an all-terrain vehicle accident in Arizona on Friday that severed her spine.

The champion swimmer was airlifted to Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center after the ATV she was driving hit a curb in a parking lot and threw her down a drop-off that was thought to be between 5 to 7 feet. She reportedly told paramedics that she couldn’t move her toes or feel anything touching her legs. Van Dyken Rouen’s husband — former Denver Broncos player Tom Rouen — was with her at the time of the accident and told authorities that his wife hadn’t been drinking.

According to the Associated Press, a letter from the Van Dyken and Rouen families said that the 46-year-old swimmer had severed her spinal cord at the T11 vertebrae and that the broken vertebrae had come within millimeters of piercing her aorta.

Van Dyken Rouen made her name at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, where she became the first U.S. female athlete to win four gold medals in a single Olympic Games. (She snagged the top prize in the 50-meter freestyle and 100 butterfly events and was part of the winning relay teams in the 400 free and 400 medley.) Four years later in Sydney, Van Dyken Rouen won two more gold medals when she competed with the winning U.S. relay teams for the 400 free and 400 medley.

“The USA Swimming family is devastated to learn of Amy Van Dyken’s unfortunate accident this weekend,” said the national governing body for competitive swimming in a statement on their website. “We’re happy to hear that she escaped and is now in great care. That she is already ‘acting like her typical spunky, boisterous, ebullient self’ shows she’s on a great path. Amy is a champion who has proven throughout her life that she is a fighter who takes on challenges and comes out on top. We know Amy will tackle her rehabilitation with vigor and be back on her feet sooner rather than later.”

Despite the severity of the accident, Van Dyken Rouen has been posting photos to social media from her hospital bed, including a snap of artwork made by her niece and nephew, along with the hashtag #hostpitalsSuck.

A drawing from my niece and nephew. They are so sweet. Made me smile. #hospitalsSuck

A photo posted by Amy Van Dyken (@amyvandyken) on

 

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