James Rubin on Hillary, Barack and Anything But Bush

“It will take years, decades to retrieve the respect that we once had before these people took office,” said James Rubin, director of foreign policy for the Clinton/Gore campaign in 1996, while moderating a discussion earlier this week about “Twice as Good: Condoleezza Rice and Her Path to Power” with author Marcus Mabry, a senior editor at Newsweek who will soon become editor of the New York Times’ international business coverage.

“All this power has lead this country to the lowest point in the United States history, in terms of respect that [Condoleeza Rice] was part of,” Rubin said.

Rubin darted from his seat after the discussion, briefly shaking hands with two out of the 200 or so audience members at the downtown Housing Works Bookstore, before stepping outside to light up a cigar.

During the event, Rubin had said that the Bush administration revised its “ABC”–Anything But Clinton–policy on North Korea.

Would the 2008 Democratic candidates be presenting an Anything But Bush foreign policy in the upcoming election?

“It won’t be an anything but Bush policy,” he responded.

“The Democrats I think, we’ve shown an ability to do what’s right for the country. I think there will be a lot of questions if we win about some of the things the Bush administration has done on the war on terror and obviously Iraq will have to be completely different. But in many respects, Bush has come back to a lot of the things that the Democrats believe in on North Korea, on Iran, they’ve sort of, after veering us way off course have come back in some areas. So it won’t be an anything but Bush — it’s a matter of being with Bush on things that achieve the objectives.

“Hillary and Obama, they’ve both laid out a number of steps that need to be taken to restore respect for the United States that has been lost, arguments that they can do differently for this administration, and restore that respect,” Rubin continued, before rushing away down Crosby Street, cigar smoke billowing behind him. “Personally, I’m supporting Mrs. Clinton, but I think either of them would go a long way in doing that we need to do to get that respect back.”