The November 16th issue of Time magazine has Secretary Of State Hilary Clinton on its cover. The blurbs advertising the article inside speak of the Secretary as a “global celebrity” with a teaser link to Joe Klein’s article asking if she can make peace. Wow, now she is a global celebrity. When did that happen and won’t Bill be jealous? Besides, I thought that John Kerry was the new grand poo-bah of Obama’s foreign policy.
I guess that makes her the first celebrity Secretary of State since Henry Kissinger. No one saw fit to use that title with Condolezza Rice, although they could have . Surely, not Madeline Albright, ok maybe Colin Powell, not positive. But as I scrolled backwards through the recent occupants of the office, courtesy of my handy World Almanac and Book of Facts , I really did not see anyone else I might consider a global celebrity. Not Lawrence Eagleburger or Warren Christopher or Edmund Muskie. You get the idea.
Now, perusing the names above and excluding them from celeb status doesn’t necessarily mean they were not good or very good secretaries. Perhaps some of them just chose not to go the celeb route. So, back to that peace maker thing. Wasn’t Ms Clinton just in Israel recently where she spoke very highly of their progress on the West Bank settlements and then had to back track later at a gathering of Arab leaders? Yep, that was it.
I am not so sure that Obama is more the architect of his foreign policy in this peace making arena. Nobel Prize, anyone? Madame Secretary went to the Berlin Wall anniversary soiree instead of the President. Not agood move , him not going and her pinch-hitting. Seems that the heavy lifting on making peace is a White House prerogative, anyway. And, chew on this. Just this week, a couple of Obama’s old pals, Bill Ayers and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn roundly trashed Hilary’s 2008 campaign as having racist overtones. Remember these folks are big time Obama pals and it doesn’t look so good for them to trash his Secretary of State. Stay tuned, there will doubtless be more. But, I would not be surprised if she were not the first high profile member of the Cabinet to depart.
Want to know what she overdid ? Sure you do. She overdid her praise for Israel, of course and now she is having a bit of a mea culpa. Madame Secretary was in Marrakech, Morocco to speak to Arab concerns about the “positive reinforcement” she had provided Israel just 2 days earlier. (And you thought Marrakech was just part of a Crosby, Stills and Nash song).
The uproar relates its seems, primarily, to the construction of Israeli settlements and their unwillingness to bring that construction to a halt. This seems to be a major stumbling block regarding Palestinian- Israeli negotiations. Obama had earlier talked tough on the matter indicating that the construction would have to stop-period. She in fact repeated this assertion that the administration does not accept the legitimacy of the settlements. Unfortunately, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu seems disinclined to completely stop the construction. So, we have a conundrum, No wonder, Mrs Clinton was reluctant to make the Middle East trip, anticipating all might not go well. Better watch that thinking or John Kerry might have her job.
Anyway, her new old statements seemed to satisfy a number of the Arab leaders in attendance including individuals from Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Iraq.
To more fully reinforce her statements today, she will add a previously unscheduled trip to Egypt. There she will meet with President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday. As of today, there has been no report of what Israel thinks of this” Back to the Future “endeavor . Doubtless, we will hear more.
The year 1945 was momentous in an almost unprecedented way. The dates referenced above are not the only events of major significance, but they will suffice for now. April 12 is one of those days that people would always remember where they were when they heard the news. President Roosevelt was dead. The only man to be elected to 4 terms; he was just beginning his 13th year in office when he succumbed to a stroke and died in Warm Springs, Ga at the age of 63. His death elevated a virtually unknown man to the Presidency at one of the nation’s most critical junctures. WW II, at least in Europe was drawing to an end but the Pacific theater, another story indeed.
Harry Truman was neither a Dick Cheney or Joe Biden in terms of power or influence. He was Roosevelt’s 3rd veep and was not what you would call highly influential or knowledgeable and in fact had only occupied the office for 82 days. Thus he was not really aware of the feverish efforts underway to develop the atomic bomb.
Apparently he came up to speed very quickly since his decision to launch the Enola Gay with the first bomb came less than 3 months after he took office. The decision was made even though it was by no means universally lauded and was opposed by some 70+ scientists.
I would like to draw a comparison to the situation in which Mr Truman found himself and the ongoing process about what should be our next step in Afghanistan. I read excerpts frm a Eugene Robinson column today that lauded the reasoned approach the President is taking versus the “ready, firm, aim” approach of George Bush. He of course makes the typical comments about this as well as Iraq being George Bush’s doing.
I have had the nagging thought for some time about Truman’ s position. It was not his war that he was tasked with completing and it might have been easy or expedient politically to not blame Roosevelt, but to give either him or his policies part of the “credit” for his controversial decision. I don’t think that he did so. Remember the buck stops here?
My point, which I am not making as well as I would like is not to say the President’s reasoned approach is all that bad. But, given the fact that this war was frequently referenced in the campaign, it is not conducive to fall back on the Bush’s war approach.
When he took office, WWII became Truman’s war. We could always the question, if Roosevelt had lived would he have dropped the bomb or bombs? But it remains a specious question. For good or bad, Afghanistan is Obama’s war ( hopefully his main adviser is not John Kerry) and history will doubtless allocate to him the credit if he succeeds.
The above acronym is often used by Joel Rosenberg in his political/religious thrillers which have been quite successful and eerily prophetic. The letters described a division of the CIA known as North Africa, the Middle East and the stan countries; Pakistan, Afghanistan etc. Fictional or not, the phrase almost epitomizes tough neighborhood in a geopolitical sense.
Look at a map of the area some time and then look at major news headlines from any source of your choosing. While not always the top story, the are seems to carry a weight far beyond its size. This weekend was a real case in point. There were some major suicide bombings in what was considered a relatively secure part of Iraq. Baghdad was the site of two bombings whose death toll approaches 200 with many more injured. And it may have damaged Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki even more.
Travel a relatively short distance to the west to Jerusalem and what do you discover? Israeli police with stun grenades. Palestinian protesters throwing rocks and who knows what else outside the holiest site in all of Israel, the Temple Mount in the center of Jerusalem. What sparked the clash? Probably no one knows. David Cohen, Israel’s national police chief laid blame on Muslim extremists. Muslim leaders claimed there were plots to damage the sites. Israel has controlled the site since 1967 but in a situation that only makes sense in the Middle East allows a Muslim clerical body, the Waqf, to handle day-to-day administration. Tourists and Israelis can only visit at certain times.
And we have Iran, who virtually lives on the front page. Nukes or not, selling enriched uranium to Russia or not ? Will there be talks? What part will Russia play? That is another Big factor when one looks at Russia’s position geographically versus the Middle East.
One more factor is of course Afghanistan. It was the site for deadly helicopter crashes just a few days ago, killing a number of American troops. Will Obama send troops, how many and when? Whose advice is better, Sen Kerry or Gen. McChrystal? Remember that during the campaign,the Afghan war was the one we should be fighting.
It seems that the are is a dominant feature of every president’s foreign policy, from probably Truman through Obama and rightfully so. One thing that is quite easy for us to overlook, given our Western tendency to take a short term view, is that the problems that are there far predate our involvement; by a long time. No, make that a very long time.
My woeful lack of knowledge and historical perspective point up once again my need for te historical study of a region whose importance can hardly be overstated. Try these phrases from your long ago study of history: Mesopotamia, Tigris-Euphrates, pyramids; there are many more and there is much history from which to learn.
Since our greatest former president is beginning to age just a bit, it is about time to train his successor at roaming the world and taking care of everything that needs to be taken care of . Yes, drum roll please, it is the one and only Sen John Kerry, D, Ma. The Senator has just returned from his latest trip to Afghanistan where he persuaded President Karzai to accept a run-off vote.
It seems that Kerry has turned the traditional role of head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee upside down. Our Clintonite friend, David Gergen says that it is”extremely rare that any president calls on an individual outside the executive branch to do as much representative work and diplomacy as Sen.Kerry.” Should Sec.Clinton be worried that her time is short as her influence seems to be waning a bit? Bear in mind that both Obama and Kerry were mentored by the late Sen Ted Kennedy. Obama burst on to the national stage in 2004 with a speech at Kerry’s nominating convention and seems to hold the senior senator from Massachusetts in high regard.
Now, both Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and the Associated Press go th great lengths to tout Kerry’ s expertise. Says Gibbs, he… is somebody who has a broad range of experience and an in-depth knowldge of issues, ranging from energy and climate change to health care to foreign policy.” Wow, is that a ringing endorsement or what? Plus, he will never dare to challenge me for the White House. Oh, I just tossed that phrase in there as a bonus.
And now, the Associated Press takes a turn. “Obama cherishes, greatly values the experience and insight of JohnKerry. And,last but not least. There is a framed note on the wall of Kerry’s senate office, given to him by Obama on the day of his inauguration. “‘I’m here because of you.” Just about brings a tear to your eye, does it not? Of course, there is a lot of truth there. Had Kerry won the 2004 election, Obama could never have run in 2008.
So, we do we call this great expert? He’s not a Cabinet member, nor a czar, but he needs a title greater than just senator. Uber senator, maybe?
Meet your new Senator from the commonwealth of Massachusetts, Paul G Kirk, Jr. Mr Kirk was appointed today by Governor Duval Patrick. Thus one of Senator Ted Kennedy’s final requests has become a reality, as if there were ever any doubt. First, about Senator Kirk. He will be sworn in tomorrow by our good buddy, Joe Biden and will serve until a special election is held on January 19, 2010. He, again fulfilling Kennedy’s wishes pledged not to run for the seat permanently.Kirk has been Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, an active lobbyist, an aide to Kennedy, and ironically is the executor of Kennedy’s estate. An insider’s insider.
Predictably, Kennedy’s widow praised the appointment , adding that it was strictly the Governor’s choice, although the family had pushed for Kirk. Nothing against the late Senator, but what Kennedys want, they invariably get. I posted about this scenario on August 21, shortly before the Senator passed away. Quick summary, Kennedy wanted state law changed back to where it was before 2004, so a quick replacement for him could be named. Why was it changed in 2004? To prevent Republic guv Mitt Romney from being able to appoint a Kerry successor if Kerry won the presidency.
Kennedy led that charge in 2004, somewhat eerily, he has done so again. The Massachusetts legislature passed the needed legislation, despite really futile Republican efforts to block. Skillful political maneuvering, oh yeah.
What almost amuses me is the stated rationale that there are too many important issues such as health care, climate change etc., for Massachusetts not to be fully represented. Sureeeeee!!
Why would Mr. Kirk want the job? Doesn’t really need it although it may look good on his final resume. But the Kennedy call is oh, so hard to resist. Oh, might I add that the president was strongly behind this action.
Senator Ted Kennedy, D, MA is gravely ill with a malignant brain tumor first diagnosed about 18 moths ago. Regardless of our feelings about him politically, we do wish him well in this difficult time. It appears increasingly likely that he will not be able to return to his Senate seat. Doubtless that is a source of great frustration for him with the effort being expended at passing health care legislation, his signature issue.
But the Senator has figured out a way to influence things his way. He has written a letter to Massachusetts leaders( all Democrats of course) asking that they change state law to allow his seat to be filled by an appointment of the Governor( one Deval Patrick) rather than an election held 145 days after the seat was declared vacant. Sound reasonable, sure. It makes certain that the state is fully represented during this crucial legislative time.
But one must remember that these are Democrats at work and rarely is anything as it seems. That just so happens to be the case here. Harken back to 2004 when Senator John Kerry, D, MA was running for President. Well, folks in Massachusetts got to thinking, what if he wins? Lo and behold, his Senate seat would be open and Governor Mitt Romney, Republican would have been appointing a replacement. Not so says Senator Kennedy, cannot be allowed, a Republican Senator from our state, what would people think.
So, what happened? Prodded by Senator Kennedy, the state changed the law in 2004. That means things would revert to how they were. Is it blatantly political, sure. Do the Democrats have the votes to make it happen? Yes, again. But, as the Wall Street Journal so adroitly asks, do they have the chutzpah? What a great choice of words. Oh, paging former Illinois Governor Blago, ask him how that appointment process worked out.
Most of us will never be fortunate to have a meal or an adult beverage at the White House. This week, four people got together for some brews(one a resident) and last month 4 top business people had what I guess we should call a working lunch in the President’s private dining room . The “Beer Summit” as a brilliant commenter wrote on my humble blog, has been well covered so we shall address it second. However, one does wonder why there was a fourth person at the table, a surprise attendee, if you will. Guess Mr Biden had some free time.
Anyway, last month there were 4 business people (we will presume them to be somewhat important in their fields) had a meeting with the President. I don’t really care what they talked about. What intrigues me is that their credit card numbers were obtained and they were billed for their meal. Who woulda thunk it? We will further presume that these people were invited to the White House, making them guests. Wonder why they were billed and of course how much? Were they charged for the ambiance, was a tip automatically added to their bill and oh yes.They better check that credit card statement next month to be certain no unusual charges were added. Apparently, this event was part of an ongoing dialogue with corporate chieftains. It was s pearheaded by Valerie Jarrett, an FOO( Friend of Obama ) from Chicago. She and other Whie House officials seemed unconcerned about the billing process. No doubt, Emily Post would turn over in her grave at this breach of protocol. Of the 4 CEO’S present only the Cola-Cola representative had no comment. Smart guy, is he not, cannot say anything nice, say nothing at all.
Now, back to the Beer Summit. Wonder if it perhaps could be a trend setting event? Wonder if the brews served will be able to use this fact in their advertising? (Bud Light, Blue Moon, Sam Adams Light and a nonalcoholic beer for Biden; Buckler)
Arms summits, peace summits and now beer summits – maybe there could be a botox summit and invite Pelosi and Kerry. Only kidding, a little.
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