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Slow News Day?

April 26, 2011

As I said over the weekend, Secretary Clinton has a few days without public appointments (until Thursday). Good for her, she deserves a break because she works her a** off. But that hasn’t stopped some from pulling the “where’s Hillary” silliness:

In more than two years as Barack Obama’s Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has kept up a punishing schedule of near constant foreign travel, diplomatic outreach, White House meetings, and management of the large State Department bureaucracy. And in the process, she’s emerged as one of the most popular figures in Obama’s cabinet.

So it was very unusual when this week’s State Department public “week ahead” itinerary described Clinton as having no public appointments at all on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Indeed, her first public appointment is not scheduled until Thursday morning—and that is a highly ceremonial appearance: officiating at a symbolic swearing-in of children of State Department employees participating in take your child to work today.

What’s more, Clinton is conspicuously missing—even by videoconference—from the list of senior Obama national security advisers and cabinet chiefs due to meet with the President today on Afghanistan and Pakistan at 11:30 AM.

Asked about her absence from the list, a White House spokesman said he doesn’t know why she’s not participating in the Af-Pak powwow, directing a reporter to ask her office.

The Envoy has duly launched queries to the State Department. Readers are not advised to hold their breaths in anticipation of official replies, however: Both chief spokespeople at the State Department also appear to be out of the office this week, and the State Department notified the press that it is not holding its usual daily press conference today…

That excerpt above was from Laura Rozen.

Why can’t the woman take a few days off without the entire world knowing where she’s going? In this technological age, whether she has public appointments or not she’s most likely working at some point. There is email, videoconferencing, conference calls, cell phones etc. Whenever she has taken a mini-vacation (or anything else) the State Dept. NEVER informs the media where she is going or what she is doing, nor should they. And if she wasn’t at the AfPak meeting then it’s a sure bet someone was there from the State Dept. on her behalf- in other words, she’s not out of the loop.

What is annoying is that predictably, a lot of right wing blogs and people with CDS are running with this story and trying to turn it into something other than the SOS simply not having public appointments for a few days. This would not happen with Colin Powell or Condi Rice- it would just be “oh, they are taking a few days off, ok.” But with Hillary, now we have to endure stories about a rift between the State Dept. and White House, or rumors about her jumping ship or not being part of the inner circle etc. etc.

For the record, I really like Laura Rozen- she’s usually objective, factual and usually stays away from gossip. She’s also always been really great to me when I’ve peppered her with foreign policy questions, particularly regarding Israel-Palestine. As many know she left Politico not long ago and is working over at Yahoo’s news site where she has her blog The Envoy. But this post from Laura [yesterday] must have been the result of a slow news day, although there really is no such thing when you cover foreign policy and the Middle East is exploding in revolution and we are involved in 2.5 wars.

Besides, hasn’t Obama taken a bunch of vacations? Ok, then.

UPDATE: During a briefing yesterday it was revealed that Secy Clinton took a few days off with her family. So, the non-mystery is solved. The End.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Terry permalink
    April 26, 2011 5:06 pm

    She might just be taking some personal time. Who knows what is going on in anyone’s personal life.

    Its just my impression that the eminent departure of Robert Gates from Defense is weighing heavily on everyone’s mind. Perhaps the war room is putting their heads together and coming up with candidates and Hillary is politely taking a back seat to the process because she doesn’t want to appear to have too much influence.

    The impression can’t be that Gate’s replacement has to be someone who is going to, out of necessity, work well with the SOS. This has to be Obama’s man. Hillary has also indicated she is leaving in a year and a half and perhaps there is also discussion of who her replacement will be in 1213. Perhaps they are mapping out strategic policies for the second term when she will not be around and are looking for other insight. I’ve had jobs where key individuals I worked with have resigned and I was not included in management’s decisions on their replacement because a lot of the discussion that was going on behind closed doors was how the new person would work with existing personnel including myself.

    Gates and Clinton have worked very well together in a manner uncharacteristic of DOD and State in my recent memory. It is important to the Obama team, I think, in these discussions that Defense seem to be the a handpicked choice of the president. Hillary with her grace will work with whomever takes over at DOD but clearly there will not be another relationship as solid as she has forged with Gates for sometime to come. This was exceptional.

  2. stacyx permalink*
    April 27, 2011 7:02 am

    According to a briefing yesterday at the State Dept. Secy Clinton is taking a few days to spend with her family. Sometimes the simplest explanation is the most likely, albeit less dramatic.

    I think it’s nice the State Dept. and DOD got along well, particularly compared to the antics and battles that went on in the Bush administration between State and Defense but honestly, I don’t see what the big deal is about Gates. I think it’s good he seemed to understand the importance of diplomacy but it didn’t stop the State Dept. from getting its budget slashed while his budget was increased despite all his talk of being able to save some money at the Pentagon. He and Clinton seemed to represent the right flank of the admin. which is all well and good except our foreign policy and defense policies were already pretty far to the right. Many of the Bush policies have been continued. Gates will be replaced soon and for the time remaining Secy Clinton will likely get along very well with whoever the new defense secretary is. I really don’t think it’s that big of a deal. Knowing Obama it will probably be a totally uninspired pick meant to try to make everyone happy.

    I don’t mean to be the ant at the picnic, I just think all the talk about alliances within the administration is more of a gossipy parlor game than anything else. It’s a spectator sport and we all love to get involved and take sides. At the end of the day though what matters is what the policies are and what has been achieved.

  3. Carolyn-Rodham permalink
    April 27, 2011 9:21 am

    I still think she’s picking out her outfit for the Royal Wedding… ;)

    • April 27, 2011 10:59 am

      Yeah, I’m doing that too. Right now I have it narrowed down to a royal blue or gray dress. Now I just need a hat ;)

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