For the last month, the Clinton campaign has reportedly been aggressively courting Henry Kissinger, the former Secretary of State under President Richard Nixon, to add to her stable of Republican supporters.
That campaign appears to have failed. Kissinger, along with fellow former secretary of state George Schultz, announced today they would not endorse any candidate this cycle.
While this is not the outcome the Clinton camp wanted, they should count themselves lucky not to have received the endorsement of a man with an awful lot of blood on his hands.
Kissinger is a controversial figure, beloved by the neoconservative wing of his party, disliked by its more isolationist elements, and despised by the left wing of the Democratic Party. He came up during the primaries, when Sen. Bernie Sanders cited Clinton's relationship with Kissinger as a reason Democratic voters should back him.
"I happen to believe that Henry Kissinger was one of the most destructive secretaries of state in the modern history of this country," Sanders said. "I will not take advice from Henry Kissinger."
TV host and chef Anthony Bourdain had the following harsh words to say about Kissinger in his 2001 book A Cook's Tour.
Once you’ve been to Cambodia, you’ll never stop wanting to beat Henry Kissinger to death with your bare hands. You will never again be able to open a newspaper and read about that treacherous, prevaricating, murderous scumbag sitting down for a nice chat with Charlie Rose or attending some black-tie affair for a new glossy magazine without choking. Witness what Henry did in Cambodia – the fruits of his genius for statesmanship – and you will never understand why he’s not sitting in the dock at The Hague next to Milošević. While Henry continues to nibble nori rolls & remaki at A-list parties, Cambodia, the neutral nation he secretly and illegally bombed, invaded, undermined, and then threw to the dogs, is still trying to raise itself up on its one remaining leg.
Bourdain's skewering shows one of the main reasons Kissinger is so despised among U.S. liberals: the bombing of Cambodia in 1969 and 1970. The U.S. campaign in the country killed thousands, and is credited with helping to bring the Khmer Rouge to power, which would later lead to genocide in the southeast Asian nation.
But Cambodia is just the beginning of the controversies surrounding Kissinger. NYU professor Greg Grandin links him to the deaths of millions of civilians through his policies and decisions in Angola, Mozambique, Bangladesh, East Timor, Chile and Guatemala.
Had Kissinger endorsed her, Clinton would have spent days on the campaign trail responding to all of these controversies, and defending her friendship with him. (Just ask Donald Trump how it feels to have to answer for your surrogates.) Kissinger is a bad guy, and his support could have bogged Clinton down among the more liberal wing of her base.
So while some Clinton fans are probably upset about Kissinger's refusal to endorse her campaign, it's safe to assume that many others are breathing sighs of relief.