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Against My Better Judgment…

January 2, 2010

…I am going to address these negative stories that have been popping up over the past few days.

Unfortunately, while Secretary Clinton has only had a few well-deserved days off, some anti-Clinton commentators have used that to revive their factually-impaired theme which they created at the beginning of her tenure- that she has been rendered “invisible.” These people generally ignore facts which rebut their claims, for example, the fact that Hillary Clinton has been front and center on every major foreign policy issue for almost the entire year and that she has traveled more than any other Secretary of State in history during the first year as SOS.

The only reasons I can think of for why these stories pop up intermittently is because a) the people writing them simply don’t like Hillary Clinton; b) this sort of gossipy speculation grabs headlines; and c) it relieves them of the responsibility of having to do research and writing about complicated foreign policy issues.

This column appeared in the U.K. Daily Telegraph and it was written by Nile Gardener, who generally writes conservative opinion pieces devoid of critical analysis and he has a history of taking a swipe at Hillary Clinton every chance he gets. Here is an excerpt:

The White House should send a search party to track down Hillary Clinton. America’s foreign policy chief has been missing from the world stage for several days, and has become as elusive as the Scarlet Pimpernel at the height of the French Revolution. I wrote earlier in the year that Clinton had become the invisible Secretary of State, and her current absence certainly reinforces that impression.

One would have thought that with a potential revolution on the streets of Tehran, and with scenes of horrific and savage brutality against protesters by the Iranian regime, that Washington’s official voice on international affairs might at least have expressed an opinion. Even Barack Obama took time away from the golf course in Hawaii to comment (albeit rather weakly) on the latest developments in the Middle East’s biggest power, which included over 1,500 arrests by the brutal Iranian security forces and Revolutionary Guards, and the murder of at least ten dissidents.

I’m not aware however of a single statement from a senior official at the State Department on the latest situation in Iran – a disgraceful state of affairs and a huge abdication of responsibility.

As far as I can tell there is no foreign policy leadership at all in Washington at the moment, at a time when the United States is faced with a grave nuclear threat on the horizon from the Iranian dictatorship, and the world is anxiously watching as pro-democracy protesters are being beaten to a pulp and in some cases killed.

I don’t buy the view that because this is the Christmas/New Year holiday, senior figures in the Obama administration can’t be expected to react rapidly to major international developments….

There is so much wrong with that that it’s hard to know where to start. I guess I’ll start with the rather rambling response I left in the comment section over at his column:

Your Clinton Derangement Syndrome is getting tedious and you certainly have a flare for the dramatic. It’s laughable when you refer back to your previous heckling about Secretary Clinton being “invisible” way back in the beginning of her tenure and then try to argue that your assessment was correct because a year later you haven’t seen her on the national stage for a few days. You conveniently leave out the months and months where she was front and center, traveling and being on the world stage both at home and abroad, but that’s understandable Nile because that doesn’t quite fit in with your flawed thesis, does it?

Simply because YOU haven’t seen her on television for the past several days you assume that she’s disappeared or just doing nothing? Your notion that simply because she’s not issuing statements left and right, that there is no foreign policy leadership in ALL of Washington DC, is just ridiculous. Are you criticizing the Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, for not being front and center on the news over the past few days? Perhaps he issued statements but I’ve been watching/reading the news and certainly haven’t seen anything about or by him. He is, after all, the Secretary of Defense. But of course you’re not criticizing him because he’s a Bush appointee and his last name isn’t Clinton. Do you assume that because we haven’t heard from Gates, the Defense Department is closed for the holidays? Of course not. But he’s a Bush appointee so you probably approve of him. I personally would rather have Secretary Gates working behind the scenes right now than having him waste his time making public appearances which simply repeat what others in the administration have already said. The same goes for Secretary Clinton- as soon as the foiled terror attack came to light Clinton’s State Dept. ordered a review of the visa process and yesterday the they released changes in procedures which would go into effect immediately at all U.S. embassies. The bureaucracy created by the Bush administration when it created the Dept. of Homeland Security is a deeply flawed system which needs to be completely reworked but I don’t expect you to offer up any criticism of anything Bush did or didn’t do (like sending terrorists in U.S. custody to Saudi Arabia for rehabilitation through art therapy!).

Clinton has a 24/7 job and wherever she is at any given time she has a legion of aides/advisers working with her on important issues. Much of a diplomat’s job is behind the scenes work when not traveling but that fact seems to escape you. Like for example when Washington DC was shut down due to a blizzard Hillary summoned Japan’s Ambassador to meet with her at the State Dept. But you probably didn’t know that because quite frankly, you don’t give a damn. Perhaps the reason the State Dept. and DOD aren’t issuing a flurry of statements is because the administration wants to speak with a unified voice?

Obama has spoken out about the attempted bombing and about Iran- not to your satisfaction of course, but that goes without saying. You neocons love to suggest that other people get tough with Iran without considering a) how to follow through with any threats, b) considering the effect it might have on the protesters and whether it could actually work against them and c) any rationale plan for dealing with Iran other than to use force, despite the fact that the U.S. military is spread so thin that our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq have to over-rely on private mercenary contractors to do much of the work of the military- a dangerous proposition. Maybe you should suit up Nile and go help out on the front lines instead of just being a keyboard General? Or maybe you could make better use this space in the Telegraph by writing an open letter to the UK government asking them to increase their troop commitment in Iraq and Afghanistan by, say, 50,000 instead of just expecting the U.S. to clean up every international mess? Speaking of which, what’s the UK’s plan regarding dealing with Iran? Oh, that’s right, you guys don’t really have one- better to just advocate for the U.S. to go to war so you can sit and cheer on the sidelines. Very courageous.

Sorry for any typos and the like in that blurb above, I didn’t proofread it before I hit “submit” because I figured I had already wasted enough time on Nile Gardiner. I was a bit harsh about the U.K. but that was simply because I found it annoying that a conservative, neoconservative Brit would be so critical of the U.S. Secretary of State while the British government provides only token military support in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yes, they are our allies and yes, they have committed more troops to Afghanistan, but by and large, it’s the U.S. that does all the heavy lifting despite the fact that terrorism is an international problem. Thus, unless Nile Gardiner would like to suit up and go join The Cause, I’d rather not hear his blather about how there is no foreign policy leadership in Washington at the moment.

After Gardiner’s piece his the internet, this appeared in the conservative media site, CNSNews.com:

When asked about Clinton’s whereabouts, a State Department spokesman told CNSNews.com that she was on vacation, but would not provide a location. When asked why Clinton has not issued a statement on the Christmas Day bombing attempt, the spokesman said such a statement was not necessary.

“There is no need at this point for her to do so,” the spokesman told CNSNews.com by phone on Wednesday. “The president has, in fact, spoken on the issue and pretty well set the task in place.”

The Obama administration has confirmed that the father of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab reported his son’s embrace of Islamic extremism months before the 23-year-old boarded a plane in Amsterdam bound for Detroit. The father’s report resulted in a visa alert being sent to the State Department and the National Counterterrorism Center, which reports to President Barack Obama and Dennis C. Blair, the director of national intelligence.

Even with that information, the State Department did not revoke Abdulmutallab’s visa, according to CNN reporter Jill Dougherty, who cited the State Department and other administration officials as her sources during an interview on “CNN Newsroom” on Dec. 29.

Dougherty also reported that Clinton had ordered an immediate investigation or reevaluation of how visas are issued. But the State Department spokesman told CNSNews.com that there had been no “press guidance” about such an order being issued by the secretary.

On Fox News Channel’s “Hannity” show on Monday, Bob Newman, a homeland security expert, noted that Clinton had been “very quiet” about Abdulmutallab still having a U.S. visa, given the information provided to intelligence about his radicalization.

That same day, Dec. 28, Obama announced that an investigation was underway to determine why U.S. officials had not placed Abdulmutallab on a “no-fly” list or revoke his visa.

One foreign journalist has opined about Clinton’s silence on the Iranian matter.

In a column in Britain’s Telegraph on Wednesday, Nile Gardiner called Clinton the “invisible secretary,” who he said should be speaking out against the arrest of more than 1,500 Iranians by the country’s brutal security forces…

So essentially, this columnist is just taking Gardiner’s theme and running with it. However, as I noted in my post below about Dick Cheney, the hypocrisy is stunning- the response to the shoe bomber Richard Reid was slower than to this incident, however that’s not the point. I think Obama made a mistake by not coming out right away and addressing the attempted terrorist attack on Christmas day- he shouldn’t have waited three days to do so and I’m a little perplexed as to why he did. That said, I think the criticism of Secretary Clinton is misplaced. The idea that just because the State Dept. hasn’t issued a formal statement about the incident hardly can lead one to the conclusion that Secretary Clinton is “missing” or not doing anything- in fact, according to CNN yesterday, the State Dept. has been investigating what occurred with respect to the issuance of Abdulmutallab’s visa and issued new guidelines for all its embassies around the world.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. January 2, 2010 2:50 pm

    Stacy, I am glad you pointed out the blizzard meeting with the new Japanese ambassador. I am sick of our hard-working (and CHEERFULLY so) Secretary of State being kicked around by people wearing blinders, and, like you, I hop on my keyboard and rebut. We will keep doing that in the new year even though somewhere inside my head I see and hear Hillary saying, “Oh, I’m used to that.” I actually believe she is, but, just like Hillary, I am a “big sister,” and we tend to be defensive.

    All you anti-Hillary people out there, we are putting you on notice: We will continue to seek out your nonsense and refute it. If anything, I think we will keep even a better record of 2010, at least I will since it took me a little while to realize that the press was not going to cover her to my satisfaction.

    When she was on her first few trips, I did notice that especially the TV coverage was poor, but at that time certain other sources (specifically forums: Hillary’s Village, where I LIVED and one that went through so many identities now known, if it is still there, as Common Ground Politics) were providing lots of coverage. The problem with that was that is that it was all very insular and did nothing to get her message OUT. It all stayed within the password protected forums, and , as we learned when Hillary’s Village went down for good, all the information was lost.

    So, for me, 2010 is starting out differently. I will no longer, as I did in January of last year, be subject to moderation by others in forums run for obscure reasons by people with objectives that are perhaps different from my own. I witnessed Hillary’s Village turn into Sarah Palin’s Village in 2009, and that was when I realized that the day I began my own blog in summer 2008 because people at supposedly pro-Hillary blogs were turning against her was the day I took a step in the right direction. I did get waylaid last year, and it will not happen again. I intend to follow the SOS very closely on my blogs for the whole of 2010. Hillary’s Village having turned to cyber-dust in 2009 was probably the best thing that could have happened. Now, everything she does will be up in the public domain and not password protected, on our blogs.

    (Wow! Here I was spewing forth, and I realize now that what I just wrote is a New Year’s resolution – something I never make! So I am posting it on all my blogs.)

    A Rose for Hillary
    Still4Hill
    The Department of Homegirl Security

    • Terry permalink
      January 2, 2010 7:11 pm

      I love it when you get angry and fierce. Now this does raise an important point. Let’s not let this history you speak of get lost and unrecorded because it is important that we not repeat our mistakes. There are lessons to be learned. I hope you or Stacy will give us all a long and detailed story (as painful as it might be to relive) of what happened in the blogospere during the primaries and the leadup to them and how it has all reshaped itself since then because I think a lot of the nemeses are the same now. What lines divided people rather than uniting them? Who stood firm and who wimped out. I’d buy that from Amazon. I know Anne Kornblut of the Washington Post has a new book out, “Cracked Ceiling” about the women candidates in 2008 that might cover some of it but it would also be valuable from those who were in the trenches. I know Hillary’s base is out there and many of you are here but it is important that we communicate and share ideas and know one another because we need to support Hillary whatever she chooses to do with her life whether she continues in government or in the private sector. There always seems to be someone ready to malign her.

      There were a lot of us with our heads down who didn’t follow all the shifting loyalties in 2008. I wasn’t reading many blogs then with all the weekly and monthly primary coverage on CNN and MSNBC taking up six hours of every day. With all that news happening, a whole other layer was going on that many of us didn’t know about. Tell us more.

      Now I know Stacy is devoting this blog to current events and to foreign policy, as she should, but I would love it if you would all recap all you know somewhere. I’ll be checking your different blogs.

  2. Beverly Hill permalink
    January 2, 2010 3:51 pm

    They can’t stand it because a woman can do a better job, especially Hillary Clinton.

    But as always, she has class and stands above it all. She should not answer to such stupidity
    as Gardner is showing. What makes him the expert? What positive thing has he said or done for his country or ours?

    If the Brits can’t give more financial support, don’t you think they should give more moral support?

    Arrogance is a sign of insecurity and a lack of intelligence. Maybe he should do his homework first. Maybe then I would read what he writes. Maybe then we would actually care what he writes.

    Thank you Hillary for being who you are and standing up for what you believe in.
    It is a shame she still has to put up with such nonsense. A Happy New Year to her and her family!

  3. rachel permalink
    January 2, 2010 6:01 pm

    GOP wants to jump on anything and I can’t beleive Janet fixed her lips to say the system worked. What do we know for sure. They guy was issued a two year visa in 08, his dad contacted on the us embassy about him in Nov, CIA had info on him the state department put something in the wire the next day. Aparently the brits had info they didnt share as well as the CIA. What info did the CIA not pass on to the state department that the visa wasn’t revoked? Anyway the president stated what he wanted said, after the investigation then I beleive the state department may speak unless the president feels all that needs to be said has been said..

  4. PYW permalink
    January 2, 2010 9:15 pm

    Excellent rebuttals, Stacy!

  5. pcfs1 permalink
    January 2, 2010 9:49 pm

    But through all this, HRC has accomplished being the most admired women in 2009 as she has been for some years now been on the most admired list. I wonder how some people can sleep at night knowing that they do so much harm in their gossip. Mr Nile Gardiner is going no where as a reporter. I bet Madame Secretary has been busy with planning her daughters wedding coming up this summer. I pray that she had a wonderful holiday with her family. That said, She been very engaged as Sec. of State. Her job is 24/7 everyday.
    For me I will continue to support and defend our wonderful Secretary of State.
    I am so blessed to be among the people here who support and love her. This blog means the world to me. It’s the lifeline to keeping myself informed as to how our girl is doing every day. I see her appointments, the photo’s, the op-ed’s and article written about her.
    Thanks to Stacy for her blogs and Still4Hill and hers. Keep up the work and remember the words “never look back just keep on going, hold your head up high and never give up”. It went something like that but I am sure you all remember Hillary’s words.

  6. January 2, 2010 9:58 pm

    Reminds me of the changing of the playing field from when she was a first lady and then a presidential candidate – Remember in the 1990’s the focus was on “HILLARY IS DOING THE PRESIDENT JOB” and then when we got to the election it was – “HILLARY HAS NO EXPERIENCE” Jeez – I wish they’d make up their minds…

  7. Terry permalink
    January 3, 2010 1:26 am

    New story in the NYTimes about Hillary’s incredible fundraising clout. She has raised over $50M in barely nine months for the new Shanghai exhibition hall from private U.S. investors. All this she did with one hand tied behind her back, a terrible economy and despite her incredibly daunting schedule at the state department. What a woman!

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/03/world/asia/03clinton.html?ref=politics

  8. February 15, 2010 4:37 pm

    It is rather interesting for me to read the blog. Thanks for it. I like such topics and anything that is connected to this matter. I would like to read more on that blog soon.

    Best regards

Trackbacks

  1. My New Year’s Resolution « The Department of Homegirl Security
  2. My New Year’s Resolution « Still4Hill

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