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Vanity Fair Interview with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

May 11, 2011

The interview is with Jonathan Alter and is titled Woman of the World:

…Hillary Clinton is now in her ninth straight year as the Gallup poll’s “America’s Most Admired Woman,” but being a great secretary of state requires more than energy, brains, and celebrity. Dean Acheson helped rebuild Europe after World War II. Henry Kissinger, who acted like the secretary of state for Richard Nixon even before he got the job, engineered the opening to China. But does anyone think Colin Powell left State with a better reputation than he had before becoming secretary? Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice broke the gender barrier and were competent enough, but left no historic imprint. The State Department isn’t called “Foggy Bottom” for nothing.

For any secretary of state, the prerequisite for success is a strong relationship with the president. “He’s hard for her to connect with,” admits one of her top people. “It’s hard for her to break through to the more-than-polite level.” That isn’t meant to suggest chilliness or dysfunction. “Is it Bush-Baker?” the aide continues, referring to the relationship between the first President Bush and James Baker, who was so tight with his boss that he felt obliged to resign as secretary of state to run Bush’s ill-fated re-election campaign in 1992. “No. But there’s a lot of mutual respect, and she feels like she’s always got a shot with him.” Imagine how it feels to be a supplicant, looking for her “shot” at impressing the president. It was only four years ago that Hillary said her main opponent in the Democratic primaries was “irresponsible and frankly naïve” when he promised to meet with the leaders of Iran, North Korea, and other rogue regimes without preconditions during his first year in office. She hasn’t forgotten who turned out to be right on that one.

One day I asked Hillary point-blank how she gets along with Obama, with whom she meets a few times a week when neither is on the road. She gave me a predictable answer, that her relationship is “not only very good professionally but very warm personally.” Of course, “warm” is just another term of art in Washington, where the advice to anyone looking for a friend has long been to get a dog. When I ask for examples, she has to pause before recalling a very public moment: a spring day in 2009 when the weather was so good that the president suggested they go outside, where they were photographed chatting at a picnic table on the South Lawn. “It was exactly what I could have hoped for. It was spontaneous and heartfelt, and we had a good time,” she says. Her second example is a full hug she and the president shared in the Situation Room after the health-care bill finally passed.

She accepted the post, in November of 2008, only after President-Elect Obama—in an inspired move over the objections of many on his campaign staff—twisted not just her arm, she informed friends, but her fingers, toes, and every other bone in her body. The president, for his part, is proud of himself for choosing her. He knows that she represents the United States better than anyone but him and is—to the surprise of many Obama veterans—refreshingly low-maintenance. When budget season arrived this year and the departments all faced drastic cuts, Hillary used a Cabinet meeting to offer tips on how to avoid making cuts that would affect vulnerable people—children, the elderly—and look bad politically. (She recalled that Newt Gingrich’s effort to slash the school-lunch program, which put Gingrich on the defensive, was the real turning point in the 1995 budget debate.) Several second-tier Cabinet members thought it one of the most useful White House meetings they had ever attended.

I’ve interviewed Hillary numerous times since she was First Lady of Arkansas, and it’s usually frustrating. She’s terrific off the record: blunt, ironic, and incisive about people, including her husband. When she cuts to the nub of something and laughs infectiously, you can see why her friends consider her such good company. On the record is tougher, especially when she’s in a job where a single misplaced word can turn into an international incident. It’s not that she doesn’t trust at least some reporters; otherwise she wouldn’t risk private candor. But the distrust for the news media as a species—the sense of being burned and burned again—long ago made her wary and sometimes defensive.

That is just an excerpt above, go check out the whole article because it’s long and largely quite positive.

Thanks to CarolynR for tipping us off about this interview.

36 Comments leave one →
  1. jillforhill permalink
    May 11, 2011 2:08 pm

    I knew I was right. Welcome king of irony,you should fit in perfectly here. Now they can call Hillary a bitch and a ho like you did. This blog’s true colors are showing by leaving king of irony’s post up. Thain,stacey and others have now been exposed. I dislike palin but I would never call her a ho or bitch like this blog condones. Have fun.

    • stacyx permalink*
      May 11, 2011 2:30 pm

      Jill- I’m at work and just saw both your comments. I haven’t even READ that link because I haven’t had a chance, so you can carry on and make allegations and assumptions that are untrue about this blog and about me and other people here but quite frankly you know what you could have done instead as a fellow Hillary supporter? You could have just said- “Stacy, did you read that link from the KingofIrony, it’s really inappropriate and maybe you should consider removing it” or something helpful like that.

      I would NEVER go to someone’s blog and claim that just because a comment was up- a comment that the blog owner may not have even seen yet- it somehow represents the views of people at the blog, let alone the person who runs the blog.

      I’m really disappointed Jill. I have never had a problem with you – why would I? But you seem intent on bashing me and this blog and it is TOTALLY unjustified.Maybe you should have waited a little bit before you ran over here and passed judgment.

      I am deleting that guy’s comment, which I would have done anyway when I had a free moment (like now) to come back to the blog. And in fact, I’m not even going to go bother reading what he wrote at that link if it’s as negative as you say. And maybe if you had given me a chance this whole exchange would have never had to take place.

      I’d offer you an olive branch Jill, but for some reason, I don’t think you want one- you’d rather believe that this is some Obot blog- why you want to believe that, I have no idea. Again, I think we should stick together, but if you want to never come back here, I respect that. But do me a favor- don’t make unfair assumptions and allegations about this blog or what it does or doesn’t “condone” when you don’t even know WHY I hadn’t yet deleted the comment. Again, you could have been helpful by giving me a heads up about his comment but instead you chose to just lash out.

  2. Tovah permalink
    May 11, 2011 2:45 pm

    Jill- that really wasn’t fair. You seem to come here infrequently to comment but when you do I’ve noticed you seem do so for the sole purpose of attacking this blog, the people here and even Stacy. What is the point of that?

    I’ve never understood all the infighting. Stacy is incredibly open-minded and tolerant here and people with differing views are encouraged to discuss different things, including foreign policy. If a comment is abusive or overly-obnoxious and offensive towards Hillary I’ve seen her remove a comment. That said, she doesn’t censor people merely for disagreeing with her or even when people debate this administration’s policies. As she said above though you didn’t even give her a chance to read the comment let alone remove it, which seems sort of close-minded and unfair.

    If you don’t like this blog, fine, but don’t try to claim that all of us who come here regularly are anti-Hillary- that’s just wrong. Your whole “see I told you so” attitude is totally misplaced given it’s based on the assumption that Stacy not only had read that guys comment but that she agreed with his post- that’s a HUGE leap. I can’t speak for Stacy but I know a few bloggers and if they have real day jobs they can’t just sit on their blog and wait for someone to comment.

    I guess Stacy could turn on the moderation function of the comments but then all of our comments might have to wait hours before being approved- I hate when blogs do that because it can be hard to have a discussion on a post when the comments are hung up in moderation for a long time.

    Stacy- don’t let the criticism get you down- I love this blog and I know how much you love Hillary and don’t change a thing. Your knowledge of foreign policy is fantastic and I learn a lot here. I like the debate and I respect how tolerant you are. If some people just want to come here and hate on Hillary or hate on other commenters or hate on this blog, there’s really nothing anyone can do.

  3. HillaryFan permalink
    May 11, 2011 2:59 pm

    I didn’t even see the comment people are referring to so I guess stacy deleted it but I second what Tovah said.

    For the life of me I don’t understand why people just come here to make trouble whether it’s the people wtih Clinton Derangement Syndrome or people intent on stabbing other Hillary supporters in the back. Some people are just unhappy I guess and they seem to always try to drag people down with them.

    I think Stacy’s response says it all- Jill was rude, unnecessarily unkind and just made assumptions about what this blog condones without even knowing if Stacy had even seen the comment. In contrast Stacy responded very respectfully and addressed the things Jill raised. That pretty much tells me all I need to know.

  4. Steve permalink
    May 11, 2011 4:20 pm

    Jill’s criticism is absurd. I guess Stacy should babysit the comment section- moderate every single comment so that no offending comments see the light if day. The idea that anyone condones some stupid comment by someone with CDS is ridiculous and everyone knows it.

    Sounds more like Jill was just looking for a reason to jump out and scream “I told you so” after she made those dumb charges in a previous thread about Seamus, Thain etc. loving their “messiah” Obama. She made an a** of herself then and she’s doing it again now.

  5. Lulu permalink
    May 11, 2011 4:33 pm

    Who is this Jill person and why is she concern trolling on a Hillary blog? Why run around trying to diss other Hillary supporters? Kind of counterproductive.

    Her comments are consistently petty, close-minded and she is always trying to insult people. In other words she’s the opposite of Hillary.

  6. jillforhill permalink
    May 11, 2011 5:07 pm

    Give me a break. Here come the victim’s whining. This has nothing to do with Hillary,calling any woman a bitch or ho is not right. Why would king of irony think that type of post would be welcome here. I have nothing against stacey,I don’t even know her. We agree on certain things and she seems nice. This blog is going the way of taylor marsh’s blog and hillbuzz just transition to a regular foreign policy blog.

    I disagree with Hillary on a lot of things,but I don’t make her a scapegoat or give her a pass. The reason I like the Clintons is not why you like them,you would not understand. I do apologize for calling people obots that was wrong. But the other things I was right.

    • May 11, 2011 5:49 pm

      Jill- thanks for your response.

      You said:

      This has nothing to do with Hillary,calling any woman a bitch or ho is not right. Why would king of irony think that type of post would be welcome here…

      Jill, every once in a while I get commenters and even emails (through the ‘contact me’ tab on this blog) from hard-core Hillary/Bill haters and it has NOTHING to do with that kind of viewpoint being “welcome here.” It has to do with some people just trying to stir up trouble on blogs. Having been on Hillary blogs and other websites you know these people show up from time to time. Honestly, I am surprised I don’t get more of them, particularly considering that when I leave comments on other people’s blogs and even media sites, I link back to this blog, which tends to bring a lot of people here who might not ordinary come here.

      Also, I don’t put my comments in moderation so the fact that a few slip through once in a while is not a reflection of my views or the views of others who comment regularly on this site, but merely a reflection of the fact that the internet has a lot of hateful people running around hiding behind their anonymity. I used to use my full name, link sto articles I had written, etc. on the “About Me” section of the blog and was harassed so I got rid of that. My point being, there are unhappy, crazy people out there and I can’t always control who shows up and throws a link in a comment and I might not see it right away.

      Along those same lines, the claim that calling a woman a bitch or whore is something that is “welcome here” is simply not supported by anything I’ve ever written. In fact, quite the opposite. I try to be quite tolerant in my comment policy but there are some things that I won’t tolerate and that is one of them (threats are another). So please give me a wee bit more credit.Perhaps I shouldn’t take your comments personally, but it’s hard not to because you sort of made it personal. Rather than directing your ire at KingofIrony, you directed it at me and this site. There is no reason to think that KingofIrony put that comment up for any other reason than to piss people off and apparently he succeeded, which is the real irony. I never went to his link/site but based on what you said, it sounds like it was pretty offensive.

      This blog is going the way of taylor marsh’s blog and hillbuzz just transition to a regular foreign policy blog.

      Oh lord, please don’t compare me to Hillbuzz, I’m no right wing Palin-lover 😉 And for the record, I actually blog over at Taylor Marsh, but I think her site is a general politics blog with a much broader audience.

      That said, when I created this site over two years ago I made very clear that this was a blog devoted to Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, AND foreign policy AND some regular domestic politics thrown in- I’ve always been very up front about that. I do try to make the site mostly about Hillary and her work at the State Dept. but I do also include other stuff. I know that some people don’t like that and that they would rather this just be a Hillary fan site- I respect that- but at the end of the day, if I am going to spend as much time as I do blogging, I am going to go about it in a way that I find interesting. I like having debates with people and talking about foreign policy and politics in general and having this site have a slightly broader focus gives me an opportunity to do that whereas if this was only a fan site, I likely wouldn’t have that opportunity.

      So, again, thank you for your response and hopefully this clears things up.

    • Thain permalink
      May 11, 2011 6:21 pm

      Give me a break. Here come the victim’s whining.

      Nope, no victims, no whining. Just some people defending a blog we like a lot and a blogger (stacy) we’ve come to respect. Wouldn’t you do the same if someone came to your blog and tried to claim it was a magnet for misogynist Clinton-haters? I think you would.

  7. Carolyn-Rodham permalink
    May 11, 2011 6:02 pm


    Getting back to the article, I thought Alder’s generally positive tone was especially notable because in 2008, as I recall, he wrote a series of decidedly negative articles about her entitled things like “Why Hillary Can’t Win,” “Hillary’s Math Problem,” etc. He also suggested the only reason she won the New Hampshire primary was because she “choked up” — like many others, he missed the point. I think women voters were angry about the public/media’s sexist RESPONSES to her eyes misting briefly, and about the “likeability” question she was asked in the subsequent debate — a question, when you really think about it, was utterly outrageous.

    What a difference 3 years — and thousands of miles logged as SOS — make.

    • May 11, 2011 6:16 pm

      But that’s what makes me suspicious of him and people like Chris Mathews- now that she’s not POTUS they are willing to give her credit? Don’t get me wrong, I do hope that they are being complimentary because they finally recognize the hard work she’s done at State but part of me worries that if she were to run for POTUS tomorrow, Alter, Olbermann, Mathews etc. would revert back to their dismissive, sexist ways. But I hope I am wrong.

      • NotOverIt permalink
        May 11, 2011 8:04 pm

        While I did appreciate that Alter acknowledged how hard Hillary works and how smart she is, I didn’t get a positive vibe from this article.

        I took most of it as the ever Obama-loving Alter finding as many different ways as possible to point to examples of how Obama put Hillary “in her place” and giving him a lot of credit for being so damn swell and forgiving that he let Hillary out of time-out to play a small part in executing his great vision.

        Alter was on Morning Joe yesterday to hype his piece. Willie Geist pointed out how Hillary had once been villanized and everyone’s favorite target but now seemed to have credibility. Alter responded that he tried to find the former Hillary-bashers to comment for his article and none did.

        He, along with the MSNBC Boys and Richard Wolffe still make me sick.

        • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
          May 11, 2011 8:45 pm

          Yeah, I didn’t like that bit about Obama being so proud of his choice and how he knows that she represents the United States “better than anyone but him.” Are you kidding me?! Obama seems to have alienated numerous world leaders — and in the articleAlter was clear how much he has relied on Hillary to handle the delicate face-to-face diplomacy.

          • Thain permalink
            May 12, 2011 12:47 am

            “alienated certain world leaders”

            -carlolyn, after all this, please rell me you are not referring to poor Bibi Netanyahu! Don’t buy into that media and lobby BS.

            If you are not talking about Bibi but instead Sarko, crazy Silvio etc. then, well, nevermind 🙂

            • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
              May 12, 2011 1:39 am

              Yes, Sarkozy, but also the former President of Brazil, the PM of Turkey, King Abdullah, much of the Arab world..

              When you think back to all the excitement and good will generated among world leaders by his election, then the speech in Cairo (well, with
              everyone except Bibi!) …he managed to dissipate all those positive vibes pretty quickly.

  8. Thain permalink
    May 12, 2011 12:57 am

    Jill one more thing – you say me and Stacy and this site “have been exposed” (in your first comment) and then you say even in your second comment that you were right- I just want you to know that no, you’ve been wrong, about this blog and about Stacy. You clearly feel justified coming here, rushing to judgment, making ludicrous charges and crapping all over everyone and I’m constantly amazed at how tolerant Stacy is of people like you.

    But don’t think for a minute that you were “right” about anything.

    • Seamus permalink
      May 12, 2011 8:51 am

      Hey brother- don’t waste your time. It’s obvious she doesn’t like this blog so it’s just as well that she move along and spread her sunshine and happiness somewhere else. 🙂

  9. Thain permalink
    May 12, 2011 8:10 am

    @Carolyn- yeah, Hillary is a much better people-person and has known a lot of these leaders for years. Obama, not so much.

    Obama really screwed up by raising expectations in Cairo and then falling back on the same old foreign policy that had led to so much resentment in the Arab world. Did he really think he could just make a hopeful speech, tell people what they wanted to hear and then not follow through? Interestingly Bibi was allegedly outraged at the Cairo speech so I think we know why the administration hasn’t really followed through. Same old same old- we don’t want to alienate certain democratic constituencies, now do we? I don’t blame the Palestinians for totally giving up on us and being pissed off at Obama- he deserves their anger and resentment.

    • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
      May 12, 2011 1:15 pm

      I gather (from an article in the NY Times today) that Obama plans to give a speech next week in which he will use the occasion of OBL’s death to articulate a “unified theory about the popular uprisings from Tunisia to Bahrain.”

      You’ll appreciate this paragraph from the article:

      “Even before the Bin Laden raid, officials said, Mr. Obama was casting about for ways to tie together events in the Middle East. White House officials had weighed a speech in which the president would link the upheaval to the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations — a process that seems, if anything, even more paralyzed after the recent agreement between the Palestinian Authority and the militant group Hamas. Given that, officials said, the current plan is for the president to keep his focus on the broader changes in the Arab world, rather than to present a specific new plan for reviving the peace talks.”

      Yeah, right. As I said in a posted reply, I guess we’ll have to wait until Bibi’s address to a joint session of Congress the following week for our marching orders about the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

      [see Thain? You’ve had quite an influence on my positions!]

      • May 12, 2011 1:42 pm

        Big mistake on Obama’s part. The Israeli right and Israeli media have been very open about the fact that Bibi is coming to Congress to undermine the President and to PREVENT the admin. from putting forth it’s own proposal for Mideast peace. Obama is in a rare position- he’s operating from a position of strength with respect to Israel because of the recent killing of Bin Laden. But this little bump and reprieve won’t last long- he can only take the OBL thing so far. But Obama should use this opportunity to prevent Bibi from putting forth his own pretend plan because guess who congress will support unconditionally- both republicans AND Democrats? Not the President of the US, but rather the PM of Israel.

        Basically, with 2012 coming up Obama is not going to take on the Lobby and risk losing Jewish votes. It sounds crass to come out and say, but that’s how it is. That’s how it’s always been and that’s why the US never changes its failed formula for Mideast peace negotiations. We will continue to be subservient to our client state, while the state dept. and WH try to convince themselves that coddling Bibi will magically bring about meaningful change. It won’t- and deep down they must know that, no matter how many times they profess their undying love for Israel and their unyielding, unwavering, never-ending commitment to Israel’s security. As that video I posted multiple times here showed, Bibi BRAGGED about undermining Bill Clinton’s Mideast Peace efforts and BRAGGED about how he used negotiations to grab more land under the guise of “security guarantees.”

      • Thain permalink
        May 13, 2011 9:28 am

        @Carolyn-R: Wow, who are you and where’s Carolyn-Rodham, the woman who I believe once said she believed in a two state solution so long as Israel wasn’t forced by the US to give up the store, so something along those lines?!? 😉

        Suggestion- for those of us who care about this issue we should all write our members of Congress and let them know that we expect them to support Hillary Clinton’s efforts to be a good faith negotiator in the peace process even if that means leaning on BOTH sides. They get tons of letters from the I-Lobby (and tons of money) but I bet they don’t get a lot of letters from people who actually follow what’s going on day to day in the Occupied Territories and who understand that Bibi is not interested in peace. Also, we should do what Stacy does- when we see the media bias in the NYT, WaPo etc. we should write the author of the article and point it out. I believe at this point Stacy’s on a first name basis with Ethan Bronner. Heh. 🙂 Has anyone noticed that the oh-so-liberal Rachel Maddow NEVER touches this issue? Wonder why?

  10. Susan permalink
    May 12, 2011 10:19 am

    I have been visiting this blog for over a year now and I don’t usually comment but I enjoy the comments and debates that take place on this blog. But I am commenting now because after reading the first comment this thread I wanted to tell Stacy how much I appreciate what she does here and I simply cannot imagine why anyone would think this blog encourages anything negative, especially anything anti-woman. That charge is just crazy.

  11. rachel permalink
    May 12, 2011 12:30 pm

    Guess I missed all the fuss, nice article a little late but decent article.

    • May 12, 2011 1:44 pm

      Yeah, it’s a good article but it’s a day late and a dollar short, as you indicated. It’s hard to not be annoyed at how the media took so long to realize how hard she has been working and what an asset she was to this administration. I still don’t really trust the media.

  12. discourseincsharpminor permalink
    May 12, 2011 8:00 pm

    I don’t comment too much, but this blog is great and I learn a lot from the comments here. I will never understand why people who hate this blog or its regulars continue to return. It boggles the mind.
    As to Netanyahu’s visit, if anyone is surprised by the fact that he’s coming to put our government “in its place”, they’ve spent the last three or so years with their heads in the sand.

  13. May 13, 2011 7:13 am

    FYI: It appears that Bibi Netanyahu has decided that he will stick it to the Americans yet again- he will say “no” to ’67 borders, “no” to any halt to settlements and “no” to any compromise on Jerusalem. But he will demand more security guarantees from the President and likely that will include a lot more money.

    Tell me again why Congress panders to Bibi Netanyahu and sides with him over the POTUS? Tell me again why the American Jewish community won’t stand up and say, with a somewhat unified voice, “enough Bibi, you don’t treat our country like this…” And tell me again why the American media sugar coats everything Bibi does and says, while Israeli media is absolutely up front about it?

    Would someone please tell me why? Or is the answer a bit too uncomfortable and politically incorrect? Perhaps that’s why there is no real debate in this country about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Because it’s the same reason why professors can be denied honoraria, tenure etc. for daring to criticize Israeli govt policies and why anyone who has an objective, pragmatic view of the Middle East won’t get a key policy-making job in any administration, let alone elected to office. After all, look at what happened to Goldstone.

    • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
      May 13, 2011 9:56 am

      Because they honestly believe Jews are the world’s #1 favorite targets for bigotry and assume another holocaust would occur if they aren’t vigilant about their security (personally, I think women are the world’s #1 favorite target for bigotry but no-one has kept statistics about how many have died because of it, but that’s argument for another day…).

      It doesn’t help that here in NY, the cops arrested two “Muslim terorrists” (neighbors said they’re too dumb to be terrorists) who were caught on tape saying how they hate Jews, how they want to kill Jews, and plotting to pose as Orthodox, infiltrate a synagogue, and blow it up. I swear, their dialogue on tape sounded sooo scripted — I mean, how many times do they have to say, “I hate Jews, and in case you missed that, I REALLY hate Jews,” that I had the admittedly crazy thought that they were paid by Israel to pose as anti-Semitic terrorists — just in time for Bibi’s visit. Our local politicians were all, like, “See?! They really ARE out to exterminate us.” And I thought, “Gee, have you ever stopped to wonder WHY they hate Jews and their best buddies, the US?”

      • stacyx permalink*
        May 13, 2011 10:36 am

        @Carolyn- It’s sort of weird how some people almost seem glad when some anti-Semitic nut pops up, just so they can go “see, we told you so!” Whenever Ahmadinejad makes one of his really stupid, really hateful remarks, Bibi and his followers almost seem ecstatic. Of course, when his own foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, makes a comment about cleansing all of the Arabs from Israel, by violent means if necessary, that doesn’t get quite so much coverage, does it?

        I’m not sure Bibi and his unquestioning supporters really do believe they are in danger of another Holocaust as a result of the threats in the region. In fact, what I find so disgusting is how some are so willing to use the tragedy of the Holocaust as a cynical justification for illegal, immoral oppression of others. There’s a certain sad irony to some of the things Israel is doing to the Palestinians. Of course, antisemitism is still a problem and we should all speak out against it. The problem is, when the so-called pro-Israel crowd cries “antisemitism” every time someone says something about Israel they don’t like, it diminishes the tragedy and impact of actual antisemitism.

        Also, Israel is a huge nuclear power and it is the hegemon (along with the US) in the region – and lets be honest, the power dynamic has changed since 1938, which of course is a good thing. I understand the significance of history, the importance of “never forget” and the need for vigilance, but no one has argued Israel doesn’t have a right to self defense- but Israel and the US hide behind the self defense argument to justify everything. It’s getting harder and harder for Israel to claim to be the constant victim- no one oppressed group, not even Jews have sole rights to victim status. Perhaps instead of victims, we should consider them survivors and they should do everything possible to not go full circle and become the oppressor because that would be a real tragedy and undermine the very reason for the creation of Israel?

        Remember when the IDF released that audio recording that allegedly caught members of the Gaza Flotilla last year sneering “go back to Aushwitz!” to the IDF before the commandos landed on their ship? The MSM went nuts over it, remember? It was used to justify the overwhelming use of force against the flotilla and it was used as evidence for the claim that EVERYONE on board just hated Jews- remember that? Well, did you realize that Max Blumenthal investigated the origins of the audiorecording and discovered that the audio was doctored- by the IDF? NO ONE on the Mari Manarva ever said “go back to Aushwitz”- and yet the MSM never provided a correction for their false story based solely on Israeli propaganda. I’m sorry, but Israel’s actions in that instance are repugnant- they are cynically using the Holocaust to try to paint anyone who disagrees with them as anti-Semitic terrorists. To me, there is something really wrong with someone who would do that.

        There definitely are anti-Jewish terrorists running around, no doubt about it and nothing justifies that kind of irrational hatred. But there are always going to be irrational people filled with hatred- sometimes we can’t do much about that. But there are a lot more people out there that aren’t like that and we should be focusing on them- people who would respond more positively to the US and Israel if we showed an interest in practicing what we preach and acknowledging the suffering of the Palestinians.

        The word “security” has become a meaningless buzz-word as it relates to Israel. It has come to justify almost anything. The irony is that Israel seems to think more violence and oppression is the only way to solve it’s problems and make it secure. Nothing could be further from the truth.

        • Tovah permalink
          May 13, 2011 11:12 am

          Yes, times have changed for us Jews and it’s silly to pretend they haven’t.

          It’s interesting that if someone says Israel should not expand settlements and end the occupation, they become a pariah but if Jewish person says all Arabs are evil or says they are inhuman or have no historical claim to Palestine (or much worse), they are held up as beacons of light in the Jewish community.

          It’s time for us to address the problem with our moral compass. I was raised to believe that Jewish values demanded equality for all and human rights for all. It was never supposed to be “Never Again just for us, but for them it’s ok.”

        • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
          May 13, 2011 5:46 pm

          Wow, that story about the doctored tape and Gaza flotilla is astounding. Makes me think that my crazy idea that Israel staged the recent “foiled terrorist plot” may not be so nutty after all.

  14. May 13, 2011 9:08 am

    For anyone that is interested, a good commentary (in my opinion) from MJ Rosenberg about how Hamas’ refusal to “recognize” Israel isn’t and shouldn’t be an issue at this point – once negotiations start, it should be an endpoint, and all that matters is that all parties commit to peace.

    The demand by Bibi that the PA not only recognize Israel’s right to exist (the PA already does recognize that and has vowed a commitment to Israel’s long term security) but recognize it as a “Jewish State” is a smoke-screen. Did Jordan or Egypt or any other country have to formally recognize Israel as a Jewish state? Of course not. Prior to the PLO’s recognition of Israel we demanded, understandably, that they recognize Israel, end of story. Then when they did do that just as we and Israel asked, suddenly the requirement changed. Why is that?

    All that matters is that countries recognize Israel and agree to not wage war. How Israel chooses to define itself is it’s own issue.

    So next time you hear Bibi or Lieberman or Schumer or Obama or even Hillary say that the Palestinians must recognize Israel as a “Jewish state” as opposed to simply just recognizing the state of Israel, know that it is another attempt to move the goal posts down the field- yet another stumbling block to a two state solution.

    • HillaryFan permalink
      May 13, 2011 9:40 am

      @Stacy- you are far too reasonable to work in our government 😉

      This is all political. If we really wanted to push a two state solution forward I think we could do it but we don’t want to anger powerful constituencies right before an election. Obama doesn’t have what it takes to stand up to Bibi.

      I get the feeling that European countries are growing tired of the US running interference – in the comments to a post here not long ago someone left a link to an article that said the US had cancelled several Mideast Quartet meetings at Israel’s request because Israel didn’t want to be pressured to discuss borders, settlements etc. It also said countries like Russia, Germany and France wanted to have more of a say in the negotiations because the US had become an obstacle.

      The problem is won’t we just veto anything at the UN because wasn’t the Quartet created by the UN? I also read that Tony Blair was selected by the US to head the Quartet because he favors the Israelis over the Palestinians and Israel didn’t want someone in that position that might be fair to both sides. In other words, Israel got to pick who headed up the Quartet which doesn’t really seem fair. Don’t know if that’s true or not.

  15. Thain permalink
    May 13, 2011 1:41 pm

    This is why the Mideast debate never changes- politicians have to trip over each other to prove they are more “pro-Israel” than the next person and to do that they have to essentially take the philosophy of Israel Right or Wrong.

    This is why there was no support for Obama and Hillary when they tried to get the settlement construction to stop- because candidates really can’t come out and say the settlements are a main obstacle to peace. Instead they all say “well, maybe they should stop, but not in Jerusalem and they aren’t the REAL problem.” No, of course not, why would throwing people out of their homes, off their land, illegally confiscating it and turning it into Jewish-only housing be a problem when said land is on the negotiating table as part of a future Palestinian state? It’s just that kind of disingenuous stupidity that emboldens Netanyahu.

    In that article I linked to, notice how candidate Marcy Winograd has already failed the pro-Israel litmus test.

  16. Thain permalink
    May 13, 2011 2:46 pm


    with respect to something I think you mentioned in your comment above, about why some in the Middle East dislike US policies (and Israeli ones). I ran across this video/article which has one of the U.S.’s most celebrated opinion writers, Thomas Friedman, saying that the Iraq War was about telling Iraqis “to suck on this” and we just invaded them because “we could”:

    With that sort of attitude, do we really think that the pro-democracy movements throughout the Middle East are going to look kindly on the US and Israel? Why should they?

    Also, about the Iraq War, possibly upwards of 100,000 civilians were killed and yet there is no discussion of that. How can we lecture other people about violence and conflict when we launched an arguably illegal war and carpet bombed Baghdad causing mass casualties? It wasn’t self defense on our part. It was proactive aggression. Yet when a Palestinian throws a stone and gets 3 years in jail, they are a terrorist. It’s like so long as people commit acts of violence while wearing a uniform it’s ok. All we have to say is that we “tried” to prevent “collateral damange” but with such a huge death toll, apparently we didn’t try hard enough.

    And then here’s Israel-firster and neocon hawk John Podhoretz talking about Iraq:

    What if the tactical mistake we made in Iraq was that we didn’t kill enough Sunnis in the early going to intimidate them and make them so afraid of us they would go along with anything? Wasn’t the survival of Sunni men between the ages of 15 and 35 the reason there was an insurgency and the basic cause of the sectarian violence now?

    My point being, well, I don’t really know what my point is other than we malign the whole Arab world as a bunch of angry, anti-Semitic crazies but here in the US, we have become a nation of perpetual war that targets Muslims- not wars of necessity but of revenge and conquest where we used torture and black sites and sometimes tortured and killed the wrong people by accident. Then we expect that when we say we are an honest broker in the Middle East, for people to applaud and thank us for our efforts.

    And everyone knows that next up on the list of military interventions is Iran.

    • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
      May 13, 2011 5:10 pm

      Wow, that quote from Poderetz is truly unbelievable. He’s saying we should have PURGED all Sunnis ages 15-34?! When the NY Times published an article about Syria doing just that to its citizens — systematically going door todoor in dissident areas and externinating anyone
      between the ages of 15-35, some Muslims posted this was no different than what Israel has done to Palestinians. I wrote that I was no apologist for Israel [not since Thain set me straight!], but I’d never heard of Israel calling for a systematic purge of all Palestinian men between 15-35.

      I’m less sure about that now.

  17. January 25, 2013 8:16 pm

    It’s nice that she gets along with Obama.

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