Welcome to the new show on Bravo, “Project Foreign Policy-Style“! Stay tuned as our resident style guru, Fahreed Zakaria, guides us through the trials of putting together a brand new foreign policy!! Or is it really new, or just an expert tweaking to create a fresh new look for the season?
First, we’ll rewind to the day before the election to the preview show. Scat’s Blog picked up American Lassie’s pre-election post on the Trilateral Commission ties to the Obama crowd (see below) and provided a link to a CNN transcript of CNN’s Global Public Square with host Fareed Zakaria. Guest judges included former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright; former chief of staff under Ronald Reagan, Ken Duberstein; and former national security adviser under Jimmy Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski.
Maddy went into her closet stuffed with classic foreign policy attire and came up with this ’80′s vintage look from her PERSONAL collection! Dated? Well, the panel thinks they can “MAKE IT WORK!” by personalizing and updating the look for Barack Obama!!
The gist of this entire “Cliff Notes” review of foreign policy, held entirely to enhance Obama’s appearance, was the assumption that Obama had already won and John McCain was irrelevant; that “style” was a huge issue; that while Bush was WAY too arrogant in dealing with other nations, even Bill Clinton’s foreign policy approach was a bit too “arrogant” ; and that Colin Powell got the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.”
Of course, there was no mention of how the Bush Administration, as arrogant as they’ve been, did finally begin paying attention to foreign policy fashion and began talking with North Korea (finally following Clinton’s lead) and enlisting the aid of China in the process; how there have been contacts with Iran, and how the plans to deploy defense shield missiles in Poland (with Polish approval) has kept Russia off-guard (until now).
So, what did the foreign policy style gurus opine the day before the election?
First, note the glaring, implied assumption that Obama and his style leadership would win as Zakaria questions Brzezinski who echoes the Biden “gaffe” about the “testing” awaiting Obama:
ZAKARIA: All right. Let me ask you on the issue of policy, though. Does the president-elect start thinking about sending signals to foreign governments? Does he start actually sending those signals?
BRZEZINSKI: I think it depends on two things — one, on the nature of the president himself, and, two, on the circumstances.
I think what is going on right now — which is nothing less than a global crisis of American leadership, nothing less than that — I think the president-elect, whoever he is — and I have my own preference — will have to start sending signals right away, and will have to get ready to deal with some imminent problems.
Then, catch the comment by Brzezinski on who could become the new, fashion trend-setter as Secretary of State…and it isn’t Kerry or Richardson:
But then there is a second task he has to address, and that is to choose his Cabinet, to choose his foreign policy leadership, with which he will then make decisions.
And here, I think, a very important possibility that’s open to him — for the first time in a long time — is to create genuine bipartisanship in the decision-making process. And he can do that either by appointing a very distinguished leading Republican to the post of secretary of state. And there are some. And he has mentioned some of them by name. He’s traveled with some of them.
ZAKARIA: Who would you suggest they be?
BRZEZINSKI: Well, I would think, of course, such names come to mind, Senators Hagel and Lugar. But there may be others, but particularly those two.
I think that would be extremely reassuring and encouraging, both domestically and internationally, and would send the right signal.
Oops, where’s Olbermann on this? What does HIS fashion sense make of all this?
We then take a short detour for a rather smug exchange about McCain’s chance of winning the elite fashion world’s approval:
ZAKARIA: I should point out, there is, of course, a chance that Senator McCain will be elected president.
ALBRIGHT: Yes, we know …
The conversation continues with Albright discussing how the Obama crowd will change how things are done with a Republican Secretary of State, because, apparently with William Cohen, a Republican as Secretary of State under Clinton, things weren’t “bipartisan” enough. Frankly, it seems like just a bit too much “sensitivity” and only a chance to make a subtle dig at Clinton:
ZAKARIA: But let me ask you, Madeleine. You worked alongside a Republican secretary of defense, Bill Cohen. Does it work?
ALBRIGHT: I think it does. Though it was very funny, because when Bill first joined us, he used to say, “Well, you all have to do this.”
And we’d say, “What do you mean, ‘you all’? You are part of us.”
And I don’t know whether he thought of himself more as a senator dealing with the executive branch, or a Republican dealing with Democrats.
Ken and I have talked about this a lot.
ALBRIGHT: And we, in our own way, are going to do something about that, because I think, generally, there has to be a bipartisan approach. And people find it hard to believe that I was able to work with Jesse Helms. And because I was, I think we managed to get much further on NATO expansion, for instance, or a variety of issues.
You have to be able to work with the opposing party. That’s our system.
So, you’ve got a Republican in as Secretary of State, following the policies of Bill Clinton, but because his “style,” at first, isn’t quite up to par, the whole deal isn’t “bipartisan”? But, oh, working with Jesse Helms..HEAVENLY!! HUH??
Zakaria then turns to the subject of Iran. Again, note how McCain’s fashion acumen is totally ignored in the set-up:
Madam Secretary, you spent some time trying to deal with Iran in your term in office, and you actually made some overtures — I thought very innovative ones. You apologized, in some sense, for America’s role in a coup that had brought the shah of Iran into power. You expressed regret about it. Some of those moves were reciprocated, many were not.
Obama faces, in a way, a similar challenge with regard to Iran.
Should he do something? Should he try and do something ambitious? Should he try and somehow restart a process you began?
ALBRIGHT: The question is what’s going on in Iran, and whether — what the changes — Ahmadinejad is apparently not feeling well. He is facing elections.
I think we think of Iran as very monolithic, and it may not be. And that’s even more reason to actually begin talks with them. And talking is not necessarily making nice. It is delivering tough messages and listening.
ZAKARIA: Ken, Reagan faced the same challenge in a way, because the issue was negotiating with the Soviets. He had seemed to suggest in his campaign that where they begin to — as he famously put it — they began to die on him, one after the other.
DUBERSTEIN: And then he finally got one he could work with, which was Mikhail Gorbachev.
But Reagan always thought that the power of ideas could triumph. And so, the answer was, of course you’re going to talk to your adversaries. And you’re going to listen to your adversaries, as well.
Duberstein then says that the U.S. hasn’t been talking enough (and certainly Clinton NEVER talked about the “power of ideas”), but then Brzezinski appears to say the opposite before giving away the store and Duberstein seems to agree:
ZAKARIA: Zbig, what about this point that both Madeleine and Ken are making about talking?
So, you start negotiations, perhaps with the Iranians. It seems to me Iran is not yet ready to rejoin the modern world. The regime rests on a certain oppositional element of defiance and opposition to the United States.
So, maybe we start talking and the talks don’t go very well. What do you then do?
BRZEZINSKI: Well, don’t forget that we have been negotiating with North Korea for quite a while, and we finally have made some progress. It hasn’t been consummated yet, but the progress has taken place. And China has played a very constructive role here.
It seems to me that, if we engage Iran in conversations, in negotiations — without preconditions, without demanding that, in advance of the negotiations, the Iranians concede on the critical issue of the negotiations — then we might be able to make some progress, and other countries are more likely to join us.
BRZEZINSKI: They’re also more likely to join us, if we don’t conduct these negotiations in an atmosphere of mutual abuse or of military threats, because that doesn’t help the atmosphere in the negotiations, and it also helps the Iranian extremists to mobilize public opinion behind them.
So, the style involved in the process is almost as important as the substance.
Then it’s back to how Clinton wore his foreign policy outfits. Not very well, it seems, so we get another dig at Clinton who apparently, displayed “arrogance” toward Europe…according to Zakaria. (Are you buying this? It’s a new line on my radar…)
ZAKARIA: Madeleine, people in Europe tell me that they found that even dealing with the Clinton administration was tough in this regard, that there was — both on the economic side and the foreign policy side — there was a degree of American arrogance.
Then we come to the topic of Colin Powell, which reveals how Republican insider Duberstein has decided that the Colin Powell endorsement is the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” for Republicans. Yes, Colin Powell takes home raves for his stylish appearance and performance at the U.N.! And his accessories–those fake photos–to DIE FOR! (literally)
ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about your friend, Colin Powell.
ZAKARIA: Powell endorsed Obama — very public and very successful, I think, a moving endorsement.
You’re a Republican. You were Reagan’s chief of staff. Will you tell us who you’re going to vote for on Tuesday?
DUBERSTEIN: Well, let’s put it this way. I think Colin Powell’s decision is, in fact, the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval on Barack Obama.
ZAKARIA: And you’re going to take it?
DUBERSTEIN: I think so.
ZAKARIA: And we have to close. Thank you all.
So, the poster boy for the entire Bush Iraq-U.N.-Congress fake-out gets a free pass these days, I guess. If you’re an Obama supporter, history be damned! But, at least Powell LOOKS good, in either a uniform or a snazzy suit!
Remember, this little fashion preview/Obama infomercial happened the day before the election. The judges simply swooned politely and in full agreement, over Obama’s haberdashery without one iota of concern about the man’ substance. A waste of airtime if you wanted to find out anything about policy. But, SIGH, what a package they described!!! Perfect in every way, from his tasteful ties down to his classy footwear!
Now, let’s go back to that mention of Gorbachev. Post-election, like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the PLO, Gorby is on the list of Obama admirers, perhaps hoping to get some sartorial tips from the man himself. (But what’s this I hear? Iran firing some sort of new surface-to-surface missile?) But Gorby is even MORE smitten. From RIA Novosti, the Russian News Agency:
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has said that the Obama administration in the United States needs far-reaching ‘perestroika’ reforms to overcome the financial crisis and restore balance in the world.
The term perestroika, meaning restructuring, was used by Gorbachev in the late 1980s to describe a series of reforms that abolished state planning in the Soviet Union.
Gorbachev said that after transforming his country in the late 1980s, he had told the Americans that it was their turn to act, but that Washington, celebrating its Cold War victory, was not interested in “a new model of a society, where politics, economics and morals went hand in hand.”
He told the paper that the world is waiting for Obama to act, and that the White House needs to restore trust in cooperation with the United States among the Russians.
“This is a man of our times, he is capable of restarting dialogue, all the more since the circumstances will allow him to get out of a dead-end situation. Barack Obama has not had a very long career, but it is hard to find faults, and he has led an election campaign winning over the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton herself. We can judge from this that this person is capable of engaging in dialogue and understanding current realities.”(MORE)
Oh, I get chills every time I hear someone talk about “politics, economics and MORALS” in the same breath, don’t you? Makes me want to go out and buy a new outfit!
I guess Gorby is blinded by the glitz, perhaps…after all, he cites the Obama campaign as an indicator of being able to “engage in dialogue.” “Hard to find faults?” What? Well, Gorby hasn’t been in power for about 20 years and is hopelessly stuck with those big shoulder pads from the era, which is unfortunate for Obama, judging from what the current Russian leadership thinks of the new fashionistas in D.C..
Seems Vladamir Putin’s hand-picked successor Dmitry Medvedev has just moved a few new missiles to Poland’s borders. Now, it looks like Vlad himself maybe ready to strut his stuff on the runway again.
…National media reports have suggested that Medvedev might step down as early as next year, perhaps on the pretext of the need for a new election under a new Constitution, clearing the way for Putin to return.
The Cabinet official said he also doubted that Medvedev would use the constitutional amendments as a pretext to leave before the end of his term. But he added that he had heard rumors since Putin’s first day as prime minister that he was already tired of being the prime minister.
Back during July’s European vacation, Obama came out of a meeting with Gordon Brown “shaken” (British Commentators: The Chosen One Looked “Shattered” After Meeting Brown….and Did Cameron/Obama Discuss “Conservative Means” to Achieve “Progressive Goals”? and it looked like a repeat performance after his security briefing just after the election.
Can you image how the new Obama style will fare if he has to meet up with Putin? Obama will probably suggest a friendly round of shooting hoops and won’t those Magic Foreign Policy Shoes make it special! Putin himself showed great “anti-style style” when he took off his shirt and displayed some great beefcake photos out there before he left the top office, so I don’t know how Obama’s lightweight style will compare.
Maybe Obama will have to be carried out on a stretcher, with his Magic Shoe-bedecked feet dangling limply a la the Elton John’s big shoes as the he’s carried off in “Tommy,” after “The Champ” is defeated in spite of his rhinestone glasses and shimmering outfit!
Oh, but you can bet that the little lights on Obama’s Magic Foreign Policy Shoes will still be flashing for the folks back home. After all, even if you get creamed, you’ve gotta keep up your STYLE no matter what…and “MAKE IT WORK”!
See Minute 4:25 of Elton’s Pinball Wizard video to recall how those big shoes were carried out with “The Champ” and disappeared in disgrace …
You can buy vintage LA Gear Lights here for about $400…
Filed under: Current Politics | Tagged: Ahmadinejad, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, China, Chuck Hagel, CNN, Colin Powell, Elton John, Fareed Zakaria, foreign policy, George W. Bush, Gordon Brown, Hillary Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Joe Biden, John McCain, Ken Dubedrstein, LA Gear Lights, Madeleine Albright, Medvedev, Mikhail Gorbachev, North Korea, Pinball Wizard, Poland, Richard Lugar, Ronald Reagan, Russia, Scat's Blog, Tommy, Trilateral Commission, Vladimir Putin, William Cohen, Zbigniew Brzezinski | 14 Comments »