Speed Reads

2016 Watch

Will Hillary Clinton be damaged by the fallout from Ukraine?

Will Hillary Clinton be damaged by the fallout from Ukraine?

Here's Hillary Clinton happily offering Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov a symbolic "reset button" for American-Russian relations:

[AP Photo/Fabrice Coffrini]

The event was viewed as bungled at the time because the Russian word imprinted on the button meant "overcharge" instead of "reset." But the longer-term implications of the "reset button," particularly in the wake of the Russian invasion of Crimea, may be far more damaging for Clinton than a translation gaffe.

Republicans can charge that Obama and Clinton badly misinterpreted the signals from the Russian government, and instead of welcoming Russia in from the cold, should instead have been guarding closely against Russian territorial expansionism in Eastern Europe. And in the post-Crimea world, if opinion shifts toward the idea that Mitt Romney was right about Russia, those charges have a chance of sticking.

How much effect this will have on Clinton's presidential ambitions likely depends on whether the crisis escalates any further. If further escalation can be avoided, any harm to Clinton's reputation may be avoided, too. But a larger crisis could more seriously damage her 2016 prospects, if not in the Democratic primary, then in the general election itself.