James Poulos imagines that there is a “New Isolationism” on the left and that Clinton will be promoting it in her campaign:
Love it or hate it, the New Isolationism that Team Clinton is prepared to promote carries a broad, inherent appeal.
Needless to say, referring to anything related to Clinton’s foreign policy as isolationism, new or otherwise, is completely wrong and wildly misleading. There is no such thing as “New Isolationism,” and using this term just creates needless misunderstanding and confusion. To the extent that Poulos has identified something real when he says that Americans “want experts we can trust to keep our anxious, harried minds away from the endless stress case of global management,” it would be far more useful to describe this as the rational ignorance of voters for whom foreign policy is normally a low priority when deciding how to vote. This relative lack of interest in the “gory details” of foreign policy is not a phenomenon unique to voters on the left, but it is widely shared by almost all Americans. The fact that Clinton’s banal, forgettable announcement video earlier this week made no mention of international affairs doesn’t tell us very much about anything concerning policy, domestic or foreign, and so shouldn’t be taken as anything more than the empty political ritual that it was.
Considering Clinton’s generally unimpressive and hawkish foreign policy record, especially her role in dragging the U.S. into the Libyan war, she would be wise to keep references to foreign policy to a minimum. Those references will remind voters of how bad her judgment has been in the past, and will give them reasons not to trust her on these issues. However, we have every reason to expect Clinton to talk a great deal about foreign policy during the campaign. Her tenure as Secretary of State was not very impressive, and she owns the disaster in Libya more than most American officials, but she is still going to cite her time at the State Department as proof of her preparation to conduct foreign policy. It is more likely that she will be the one throwing the charge of “retreat” back in the face of her eventual Republican opponent. That would probably be true of any Democratic nominee seeking to succeed Obama, but it is virtually guaranteed that the consistently hawkish and interventionist Clinton will want to attack the other party in these terms.