The general consensus regarding the release of the memoirs of Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State during President Obama's first term, is that it sets the stage for her to achieve in two years what she was unable to do six years ago: become president of the United States. Clinton, however, who seems to be the top candidate among the possibilities at this time, is faced with a number of obstacles that will take a long time to overcome. This is why she needs to start making serious efforts even before the midterm election this November. One might say that the most threatening obstacles to Clinton's aspirations are Islamic.
Clinton and all other Democrats benefit from the leadership vacuum in the Republican Party. Republicans suffer from an ontological schizophrenia in their political identity following the fragmentation of the two wings of the conservative stream: the social conservatives waging culture wars, from trying to restrict the rights of homosexuals to restricting access to abortion, and the fiscal conservatives, whose goal is reducing the role of the state in economic life, whether by reducing the tax burden or getting rid of incentive and social support programs.
The harmony between these two wings has been spoiled by the emergence of rival concepts of conservatism within the Republican Party. The old conservatism emphasizes isolationism in international issues, whereas the new conservatism believes that economic and security concerns at the global level require the United States to play an effective role in international matters and fortify the conservative vision. These wings had in the past worked with each other, mobilizing Republicans and scoring victories for the party. Today, most of this mobilization goes to internal grinders, producing Republican candidates unable to adapt to the atmosphere of moderation necessary to win general elections.
Having lost convincing faces of leadership, and in an attempt to bring balance to the political arena, Republicans have directed skepticism toward Hillary Clinton to try and slow the momentum that is setting her up as the obvious candidate to win. The fact is that Clinton herself is not resting in this momentum, since she enjoyed it before in the early stages of the 2008 election, right before Barack Obama took the party nomination from her.
Hillary Clinton has been targeted by Republicans on two points. One point they've belabored to the point of exhaustion, though the other has not yet been addressed as prominently. Since the events leading to the death of the American ambassador and those with him in Benghazi, Libya two years ago, the Republicans have been constantly trying to place blame on Clinton. The fact is that Clinton herself has made the point perfectly clear that, as the Secretary of State is concerned with the safety of envoys and the security of embassies, she does bear responsibility, and requested an investigation to discover if there was a dereliction of duty or errors that led to the murder of the ambassador and his colleagues. Despite this, Republicans still continue to attempt to prove some conspiracy to blur the facts surrounding this issue. These efforts, though, made by some Republicans who have been in politics and creating agitation in the media since they were kids, have not really left the political margins, and do nothing to bring about Clinton’s downfall. Actually, they only go to make the whole Republican scene seem like a pointless entertainment club.
But there is something addressed from time to time that is live ammunition for the Republicans to attack Clinton at the right moment: accusations of deep abuse to American interests and values through her support of what's called "political Islam." Republican sites have concocted two narratives with one goal in mind, though distinct in the details. When combined, their effectiveness is multiplied.
The first narrative says that Hillary Clinton was sort of a godmother supporter of groups connected with the Muslim Brotherhood, hoping to secure them as impartial allies of the United States after the changes of the Arab Spring. According to this narrative, there is abundant evidence to Clinton's alleged role here. See particularly the way she rushed to bestow legitimacy to members of this group in Egypt and Tunisia after elections, her visit to Egypt confirming Washington's affirmation of their legitimacy, and the hospitality the State Department showed to Brotherhood-affiliated delegations from various countries.
It should be mentioned here that American political culture, when giving attention to this topic, does not distinguish between peaceful or moderate and jihadi trends in political Islam. Rather, there is usually only talk about how Islam and loyalty to the United States do not mix. According to this narrative, Hillary Clinton made a grave mistake, and unless this narrative is refuted with precision, it will be accepted on a wide scale in the United States.
As for the second narrative, it goes even further to the point of alleging that Clinton is the victim of a Brotherhood conspiracy that was able to infiltrate her staff and affect political decisions for the interest of political Islam. The evidence for this allegation is available, so long as one accepts the flimsy evidence which is used to confirm it. On Clinton's staff, there are a number of American Muslims, some of whom are actually active and prominent activists. Some staff members have close or distant relatives who have, at some point, been connected to an organization or movement associated with the Brotherhood. Shedding light on this thin thread aims to escalate the rhetoric to sustain suspicion and doubt. The burden of denial shifts to Clinton and her staff. The real problem that Clinton faces here is that the deep suspicion surrounding Islam and Muslims in the United States rises with the credibility of this argument.
To stave off the accusation of being a Muslim throughout his election campaign, Barack Obama avoided anything associated with the idea. He even demanded hijab-wearing women to sit in such a way that they wouldn't appear in a picture with him. As for Clinton, her problem is deeper. She has intentionally attracted talent from among American Muslims to work with her. There is no way for her to deny this. The most effective way to handle this may be to hold it up as an example for American culture in confronting the corruption of discrimination, and the desire to restrict the rights of Islam and Muslims.