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Heard Around the Hillary-Sphere: Thursday Evening Edition

October 22, 2009
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton walks with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., and others, as she arrives for  the Democratic Policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2009. (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton walks with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., and others, as she arrives for the Democratic Policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2009. (AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)

Secretary Clinton spent much of the day on the Hill today and headed over to the White House for more meetings:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is spending the day at her old office, as the former junior senator from New York returned to the Capitol Thursday as the face of the Obama administration’s foreign policy.
In between private meetings with former colleagues, Clinton joined Senate Democrats for a lunch meeting and an exchange of views on a variety of global hot spots. Clinton did not give any prepared statement, choosing instead simply to answer questions from lawmakers concerned about Afghanistan, Iraq and other pressing diplomatic issues.

Senators present said the largest share of the discussion was devoted to Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Obama administration is in the midst of a strategic review of the conflict, and both White House advisers and Senate Democrats are divided over whether to send thousands more U.S. troops to the region. On Thursday, Clinton did not tip the administration’s hand.

“I think she just gave a very honest and very effective summary of the questions” faced by Obama, said Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.). “She didn’t say where the president is or where they’re going.”
Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said the discussion was wide-ranging.
“We just asked a whole lot of questions about different subjects,” he said. “There was a lot on Afghanistan but a lot of other subjects too…. Also Iran, Middle East a number of other questions.”


On Thursday, Clinton’s former colleagues were happy to welcome her back, giving her sustained applause at the end of the luncheon discussion before she slipped out a back door to head to her next meeting.

“She fielded many questions about different parts of the world,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). “She actually didn’t even give a talk, she just answered questions. She was just amazingly thorough and well-informed and I think people were incredibly impressed.”

Clinton Policy Luncheons


Hillary continues to make headway in dealing with the election fiasco in Afghanistan:

Clinton, as secretary of state, helped clear the way with a long call to Karzai but also gave Kerry the room to run. And the result — Karzai’s agreement to hold a runoff election next month — was a joint triumph for the onetime rivals.

“We have an immense amount at stake in Afghanistan, and I felt ‘when you see a moment, move,’” Kerry told POLITICO Wednesday.

“We had a terrific working relationship,” Kerry said of Clinton, who holds the job he wanted but didn’t get. “I reached out to her, she gave me her confidence, she was completely supportive.”

Kerry and Clinton talked by phone Wednesday, but Washington being Washington, it didn’t help when White House press secretary Robert Gibbs slipped up and called the senator “Secretary Kerry.” And Clinton, who had a speech appearance elsewhere, wasn’t part of a small Oval Office meeting later in which the Massachusetts Democrat briefed President Barack Obama on his trip — and his strong view that the president should wait until after November’s runoff before sending more troops.


More than most secretaries of state, Clinton brings with her a set of past ties to Congress. “She has her unique network of relationships, and she uses them,” said one administration official. “Kerry was very helpful.”

Speaking of Afghanistan, I just saw the most incredible tweet just a few minutes ago- Karl Rove is accusing the White House of playing politics with this issue. Yes, you heard that correctly, Karl Rove- the same Karl Rove who would stoop to any level to one-up a political opponent or an enemy no matter how unethical or potentially illegal. His claim, of course, is preposterous on its face. While I understand the nature of politics is to apparently bludgeon the party in power I am beginning to think that today’s GOP exists solely to scream “NO!” to anything and everything this administration does. With respect to Afghanistan, never mind that we have Bush/Cheney to thank for much of the current situation. If we hadn’t run off to go take on the supposedly “imminent threat” posed by Saddam Hussein’s mythological WMD program, our troops in Afghanistan may have actually had the supplies and resources they needed.


Ok, back to Hillary…

Clinton Policy Luncheons

Secretary Clinton will be giving President Obama a status report on the Mid-East peace process:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is currently at the White House giving President Barack Obama a report on efforts to relaunch Middle East peace talks, aides say. Obama had requested the progress report at a trilateral meeting with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders in New York last month.

“The Secretary advised the President that challenges remain as the United States continues to work with both sides to relaunch negotiations in an atmosphere in which they can succeed,” a White House official said on background in a statement. “They also discussed the progress that has been made on a number of issues and the path ahead.”
“The Palestinians have strengthened their efforts on security and reforming Palestinian institutions, but they need to do more in these areas and on stopping incitement and preventing terror,” the official continued. “Israelis have facilitated greater movement for Palestinians and responded to our call to stop all settlement activity by expressing a willingness to curtail settlement activity, but they need to translate that willingness into real, meaningful action and do more to improve the daily lives of Palestinians. And both sides need to move forward toward direct negotiations.”

I think at this point BOTH Israel and the Palestinians need to get their act together. The path Hamas has chosen leads nowhere and the people of Gaza are ultimately the ones who suffer as a result of their reliance on misguided, violent leaders. And of course Israel suffers under the threat of terror attacks on civilians. I don’t know how the U.S. should go about strengthening the Palestinian Authority (PA) from the outside but it seems of late, the US has done just the opposite at times – I’m thinking of the PA originally agreeing to table the Goldstone Report only to pay a high political price that ended up enraging the people of Gaza thereby strengthening Hamas.

Israel, too, shows very little willingness to compromise on anything. And while Israel certainly has a right to protect itself, engaging in self-defeating things like this only serve to cause humiliation and breed resentment among the Palestinians, which in turn leads to more violence. It makes no sense.

It’s hard to take someone like Avigdor Lieberman seriously in terms of any type of peace process (the same can be said of the leaders of Hamas). I have never heard Lieberman so much as hint at a desire for peace in any meaningful way. In fact, quite the opposite. And of course as Hillary Clinton herself says, the U.S. can’t want peace more than the Israelis and Palestinians do…and she’s right.

In Israel’s Haaretz there is a commentary by Gideon Levy which describes the hard-line Netanyahu administration as doing more harm than good to Israel’s interests. I enjoy Haaretz because even if I don’t agree with a particular opinion in an op-ed, I respect the fact that the Israeli media is often much more tolerant of opposing viewpoints with respect to issues that involve Israel than we here in the US are. You would NEVER see this in a mainstream U.S. paper/website:

Israel has been dealing one blow after another to the rest of the world. While China has still not recovered from Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s absence from the reception at its Tel Aviv embassy – a serious punishment for China’s support for the Goldstone report – France is licking its wounds after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “vetoed” a visit by the French foreign minister to Gaza. And Israel has dealt another blow: Its ambassador in Washington, Michael Oren, will boycott the conference next week of the new Israel lobby J Street.


Israel strikes and strikes again. It strikes its enemies, and now it strikes out at its friends who dare not fall exactly in line with its official policies. The J Street case is a particularly serious example. This Jewish organization rose in America along with Barack Obama. Its members want a fair and peace-seeking Israel. That’s their sin, and their punishment is a boycott.


Dividing the world up between absolute good and evil – our side and our enemies, with no middle ground – is a sign of despair and a complete loss of direction. It’s not just our ambassador in Washington, who knows nothing at all about democracy and pluralism and only wants to please his masters. Such behavior – kicking and barking crazily in every direction – is destroying Israel.

Without giving us a chance to voice our opinion, Israel is falling to the status of an international pariah, the abomination of the nations. And whom can we thank for that? Operation Cast Lead, for example. Only the United States remains our automatic and blind ally for all our mistakes. Another democracy that saw its status deteriorating so much would ask itself first and foremost what mistakes it had made.

In Israel our approach is exactly the opposite: The rest of the world is guilty. The Scandinavians are hostile and the Turks are enemies, the French and British hate Israel, the Chinese are only Chinese and the Indians can’t teach us anything.

Any legitimate criticism is immediately labeled here as anti-Semitism, including Richard Goldstone, the Jewish Zionist. We are pushing everyone into a corner roughly and hope they will change their opinions and suddenly be filled with a deep understanding for the killing of children in Gaza. Now America too, even its Jews, are no longer immune to this aggressive Israel mad with grandeur…

Moving along…Unfortunately in Honduras, the crisis continues and as usual, women bear much of the burden.



One Comment leave one →
  1. Ashtok permalink
    October 23, 2009 1:14 pm

    If it were not for y0ur Secretary Clinton Pakistan capitol would be overrun by Taliban right now. She spoke sternly to their leaders and was criticized but they listened. I think Pakistan, who has nuclear weapons and would use them, is more of a threat than Iran. The only reason US is obsessed with Iran is because of Israeli pressure.

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