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You’ve spent most of your career as a law professor and the legal affairs editor at the New Republic. Why move to Philly to take over the Constitution Center?
I had the best job in the world as a law professor and a journalist. But when the Constitution Center approached me, I realized this was the best job in the world.
My great passion in life has been moderating constitutional conversations. And the Constitution Center is the one place in America, in the world, that’s uniquely qualified to do just that.
You already knew that Hillary Clinton received the Liberty Medal Tuesday night at the National Constitution Center. There was a fair amount of national media there, so we thought and check what they had to say about the event.
Hillary Rodham Clinton and Jeb Bush, would-be opponents in the 2016 race to return one of their families to the White House, shared a stage here Tuesday evening and basked in a mood of bipartisan bonhomie.
The former Republican governor of Florida celebrated Clinton’s commitment to public service as she received the 2013 Liberty Medal at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
“Hillary and I come from different political parties, and we disagree about a few things, but we do agree on the wisdom of the American people — especially those in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina,” said Bush, who is chairman of the National Constitution Center.
But wait! The Washington Times reports that Jeb “kept his distance” from Clinton!
Critics were aghast that Bush would celebrate Clinton, particularly with controversy still raw over the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Clinton was secretary of state at the time.
“Jeb Bush shows non-presidential mettle with Hillary Clinton medal,” read the headline on a conservative website. Twitter burned for weeks. “@JebBush Really? Hillary. Really? #Benghazi,” one person wrote Tuesday night.
Bush, already under fire for his advocacy of the Common Core education standards, was cordial toward Clinton, but his speech avoided talking about her career.
Even as Bush seemed to brush off criticism, he never got too close to Clinton, denying a photo of them side-by-side that would surely be used against him in a future campaign.
Politico also emphasized the damage that Jeb Bush was taking by being at the ceremony:
“Secretary Clinton is out of office. So am I. I’m not sure what people expect to happen here tonight,” Bush said. “We do agree on the wisdom of the American people, especially those in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina.”
But he was unlikely to placate all conservative onlookers and Clinton critics.
“If Jeb Bush didn’t want to run for the Republican nomination, he could have just said so,” wrote Jim Geraghty at National Review, noting that the event falls one day before the one-year anniversary of the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya.
“Now, you see a story like this and you say, “What in the name of Sam Hill?” right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh said after the event was announced in June.
The message here, of course, is that conservatives will be royally punished for ever reaching across party lines or ever acting in a non- or bipartisan manner. What’s the National Constitution Center to do? Only give the Liberty Medal to Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz? It’s not a “conservative of the year” award.
Hillary Clinton mostly stayed away from the Syria debate while receiving the National Constitution Center’s 2013 Liberty Medal here Tuesday night, only mentioning the controversy once in her 15-minute speech.
“That violated universal norms,” she said of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons. “It demands a strong respond from the international community, led by the U.S.”
Since President Obama addressed the nation an hour after her remarks, Clinton may have decided to leave it to him to discuss the constantly evolving situation.
The president’s speech also allowed Clinton to gracefully back out of her previously announced plans to deliver a “robust policy speech” at the event. “It’s simply and obviously not the right time,” a source told Politico. “Furthermore, she is very mindful that she will be speaking only an hour or so before the President addresses the nation.”
But, you know: Jeb.
Nah, Hillary Clinton isn’t running for president.
Sure, just about everybody who gathered Tuesday night at the National Constitution Center to see Clinton receive the Liberty Medal expects to see her run—the out-of-town media that gathered, the extra-supportive crowd, and just about everybody who got up on stage to sing her praises clearly expect it.
“I think Secretary Clinton is going to be in Des Moines next week,” said Jeb Bush, referencing Iowa’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses. (To be fair, Jeb probably will be there too.)