UPDATE 1: 8/10/09 PM:
Apparently, Hillary Clinton IS getting touched by the recent focus on her husband–in Congo, no less! This is SO NOT GOOD! And in so many ways…for women, for Clinton herself, for the country…is the final set-up in place for her to leave? A large part of her visit to Congo is going to focus on the mass rapes in the country and human rights issues, but by the time the following report gets to the U.S. that emphasis will probably be lost.
Note: I’ve deleted the original excerpt after seeing that it was from the AP….replaced by the story from the France24/AFP:
Clinton faced a flurry of questions from the students, not all to her liking. At one point, she showed a rare flash of public anger as a young man asked for the views of her husband, former president Bill Clinton.
“My husband is not the secretary of state, I am,” Clinton said forcefully.
The AP story also quoted her as saying she wouldn’t be “channeling” Bill Clinton and described her response as being “snapped.”
The Voice of America news omits the exchange and the BBC story only cites the last line/quotation (without the “she snapped” or the “forcefully.”)
Albert R. Hunt, Exec. Editor for Washington for Bloomberg News opined 8/10:
Big Dog May Not Return to Leash After Pyongyang
What will this Pandora’s Box yield?
UPDATE 3 8/11/09 AM
From the AP story at FOX News, the video…and, as predicted, this is going viral. Glenn Beck was razzing Clinton about this on his AM radio show just now and will sending it in his newsletter. He did make one comment that makes a lot of sense: that Clinton must really regret that she took the job. Whatever it is, she’s cleary frustrated as hell. Beck also played a tape of her during the campaign in which she shouts about how “Amercans have a right to debate” and how “debate is patriotic” (in reference to the Bush Administration). Beck mocked her “gentle” style and compared it to her outburst in Congo. He also commented on her absence from the trip to Russia and the N. Korean business. He was implying that she was being cut out of the loop. He was caustic, of course, but an awful lot of it was spot on. Especially when he finished up by saying that the Obama/ACORN machine had taken down the Clinton machine–that’s how scary these people (Obama people) are.
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ORIGINAL POST BEGINS HERE (Touching on what’s been brewing and finally came out today, as reported above.)”
This is a complicated post that has evolved over several days observation…
To start, back on Tuesday, 8/4/09, I posted a little comment over at the TD Blog’s open thread on Bill Clinton’s mission to N. Korea to free Al Gore’s journalists/reporters from Current TV (or whatever they are). I commented:
I expect to hear at some point that Bill’s success shows that Hillary sucks at being SOS…
So, lo and behold, I listened to the report on the “rescue” the next morning on the BBC World Service news bulletin (at 1400 UTC) and at the very end, the throwaway comment by a reporter on the phone (a British reporter, not an American) was (sic) “What’s interesting is that SOS Hill Clinton is married to Bill Cinton and he accomplished what she couldn’t.” The AP on Thursday (8/6) in an analysis piece (can’t quote them) and the L.A. Times in a news story that, of course, includes “analysis” used the word “overshadow” in their post-mission coverage.
Meanwhile, over at the BBC’s “Have Your Say” page, the teaser is “Should Africa Listen to Hillary Clinton?”
Should Africa listen to Hillary Clinton?
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has begun a tour of Africa, saying improving democracy is the key to boosting trade and development. But should Africa follow her advice? (more)
Gee, I thought she was representing the Obama Administration/the United States–why the “personalization” of her foreign policy trip?
Well, I guess it’s understandable, since Clinton has personalized some of her rhetoric, notably her comments in late July regarding North Korea. From the detailed coverage of the spat at India’s IBNLive:
“Maybe it’s the mother in me, the experience I’ve had with small children and teenagers and people who are demanding attention, Don’t give it to them,” she said in the interview.
She also said the North Koreans were like “little children” who “had no friends left.”
I have no no problem to the reference to motherhood, in general, but …did Clinton’s acid comments really help the situation?
North Korea’s Foreign Minister issued a scathing response. From the KOREAN CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY of DPRK(Democratic People’s Republic of Korea)
She said during her recent trip to India that “north Korea should not receive the attention it is seeking through behavior like missile launches,” likening Pyongyang’s behavior to that of unruly children. Her words suggest that she is by no means intelligent.
The DPRK has taken necessary measures to protect the nation’s sovereignty and right to existence to cope with the U.S. hostile policy and nuclear threat, not to attract anyone’s attention.
We cannot but regard Mrs. Clinton as a funny lady as she likes to utter such rhetoric, unaware of the elementary etiquette in the international community.
Sometimes she looks like a primary schoolgirl and sometimes a pensioner going shopping.
Anyone making misstatements has to pay for them.
While some stories in the Western press called N. Korea’s personal attack “bizarre” (See: the Agence France-Press report at News.com.au titled North Korea in bizarre Hillary Clinton attack ), over at IBNLive there’s a vote up on Clinton, up or down which is basically tied, and also a place where, among several choices, you can give her flowers or throw tomatoes, complete with a “live action” tomato throw at Clinton. Currently the tomatoes are the most popular choice.
The result of this spat was that the 6-party talks were declared “dead”….but the rhetoric was toned down and backchannel work to reset the playing field was undertaken and then, enter Bill Clinton and the freeing of the Current TV writers.
Early on, Asia Times Online, the “private” nature of Bill’s N. Korean rescue mission was nabbed as a “fantasy”: See Dear Leader stars in Bill and Hillary show for a good read.
Clinton was just the high-profile visitor North Korea hoped to entice from Washington in return for handing over the journalists.
Why bother to pretend otherwise, after wife Hillary, as secretary of state, had laid the groundwork by saying that maybe Ling and Lee had made a mistake and strayed across the Tumen River border with China when North Korean soldiers picked them up on March 17? And hadn’t Hillary already expressed an apology for the mishap after having said earlier the two had done nothing wrong?
The Independent Opinion Page seemed to think everything is OK for Hillary:
Yet one perk now stands out. How many other jobs would enable a woman to send her philandering husband to North Korea? Many women have fantasised about it. Mrs Clinton has actually done it. Take note Harriet Harman. Some sisters, at least, are letting their menfolk know who wears the (pantsuit) trousers.
Well, that BBC reporter quoted up top doesn’t seem to echo this shallow assessment. Neither did the AP or the L. A. Times and other media outlets. From the above L.A. Times story,
It once again led to him overshadowing his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, even as she is on her own diplomatic trip to Africa.
At the same time, the trip left some uncertainty about how Clinton’s new diplomatic career is fitting in with that of his wife, America’s chief diplomat. While Bill Clinton was in a worldwide spotlight, the debut of Hillary Clinton’s 11-day trip to Africa received scant attention. She has been trying to raise her visibility in an administration stocked full of capable diplomats and influential White House foreign policy aides. The Africa trip, including stops in Kenya — Obama’s father’s homeland — and several longtime hot spots, was meant to help her raise her own profile.
In an NBC interview Wednesday, the secretary of State said that though she had originally favored Gore for the North Korea assignment, she was “very much in favor” of sending her husband once the North Koreans requested it.
And, here’s something else, also from the L.A. Times story:
“This is really going to help consolidate his role as an elder statesman,” said Ross Baker, a political analyst at Rutgers University. “It almost gave him a kind of heroic tint.”
So Bill is the hero of the story; Hillary, not so much. Heck, by the end of the week on the McLaughlin Group, Hillary Clinton’s name didn’t even come up in the discussion of Bill’s trip to N. Korea and its potential implications at all!
Back to that BBC news bulletin I mentioned right up at the top…
A short bit later in the same news bulletin, I heard the report on Hillary Clinton’s umbrage at the Kenyan government…their corruption, impunity, and failure to correct the problems that resulted in the post-election violence back in December 2007.
The BBC story below has a video of Clinton Speaking at the 8th AGOA Conference.
Addressing the press following a meeting with the Kenya’s president and prime minister, Mrs Clinton strongly criticised Kenya’s political leadership.
She said the absence of strong and effective institutions had permitted ongoing corruption, impunity and human rights violations.
And she noted that these conditions had helped fuel the violence that engulfed the country in early 2008.
“We’ve been very clear in our disappointment that action has not been taken [over the violence],” she said.
“It is far preferable that it be done in the regular course of business, that prosecutors, judges, law enforcement officials step up to their responsibilities and remove the question of impunity.”
The violence broke out after supporters of Raila Odinga – the main opposition leader at the time – said he had been cheated of victory in the December 2007 polls.
“I want you to know President Obama feels a personal connection and commitment to the future of Kenya.”
If you listen to her speak this line, she enunciates every word very carefully, as if she wants to make sure everyone listening gets it. It’s overkill, of course. Perhaps over-compensating for Obama’s ties to Odinga and the same old, same old foreign policy that’s chugging along. Or some reflexive sense that she has to make sure any hint of “not being fully on board” is dispelled. Whatever. It seems to happen fairly often.
A little bit below this video there’s an audio clip which discusses the main concern of the U.S. regarding Africa, namely, OIL, since 24% of our imports come from Africa and catching up with China, Russia, and India.
Emira Woods, Liberian-American journalist and an “expert on U.S. foreign policy in Africa” comments, that despite the ” lofty rhetoric” of Obama’s Inaugural Address, U.S. foreign policy is “still focused on a narrow definition of U.S interests” with regard to “extractive industries”…oil, gas, and mining. Then there’s the “land grab” which is going on across the African continent. According to Woods, large “tracks of lands” are being turned over to the production of biofuels to fuel cars around the world, but there’s really very little concern about feeding starving children. Woods also relays concerns about the militarization of Africa. (Note: Both the Clinton video and the Woods audio are here on one page: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8185626.stm).
Very little “hope and change” over there, just like there’s very little here at home…
And in Angola, Clinton pushed for “credible elections”…you know, the kind the Democrats gave us last year during the primaries. Eek!
Of course, the topic turned to oil. From the BBC:
In Luanda, Mrs Clinton is expected to sign a memorandum of understanding with American oil giant Chevron and the US Agency for International Development (USAid) to promote investment in Angola’s agricultural sectors like coffee and bananas.
Asked about China’s growing influence in Angola, Mrs Clinton said she was not interested in what other people were doing in Angola because her focus was on what the US was doing.
Last year, Angola overtook Saudi Arabia as China’s leading source of crude oil.
She’s not interested in what China is doing? Really? Oh, please. It sounds sort of glib, doesn’t it? And completely disingenuous…
So, basically, all the trumpeting of a new foreign policy seems to be a lot of hot air and not much different than anything that’s come before. The U.S.’s self-interest is still all wrapped up in oil.
Remember how during the Bush years we got all sorts of big talk? Remember the infamous “axis of evil” reference in his 2002 State of the Union address (axis = North Korea, Iran & Iraq)? Well, there are times when Clinton sounds just like George W. with her sometimes very harsh or very glib statements.
Now, I really deplore the snark from that BBC reporter aimed at Hillary Clinton about Bill coming to the rescue. She seems to absorb al this without batting an eye. Then again, Hillary got the “street finger” from the Obama crew during the primaries. And she chose to leave the Senate and sign on with the Obama crowd. It’s nice that she’s adding some comments about women in her speeches, but in real life, she’s being slimed by a reporter for the BBC and undercut in her desired appointments to positions by the Obama team. It’s been reported that HIS people are in under her, not her first choices for key jobs. And now, Bill has re-entered and is the new hero of the N. Korea situation.
But she’s apparently OK with all this. (?)
So, the upshot of how this makes me feel is that 1) She’s getting shafted or undercut too often and 2) Sometimes she speaks in ways that makes me scratch my head. But most of the time, I just wonder what will happen next. What does Bill do next? Madeline Albright sure didn’t have to deal with this sort of thing. I can’t figure it out, unless Clinton is used to the soft form of “battered wife” syndrome. Then there’s the dealings with Obama, the guy who cheated and muscled himself into the nomination. Here she is, right on board the train with the usual U.S. foreign policy, surrounded by Obama loyalists, while he keeps his nose clean. I guess she’s OK with this and how she must defer to his lead, but it I don’t feel OK watching it all happen.
So, while others cling to Hillary Clinton as their personal inspiration, I can only say that I’m left with very mixed feelings at this point. I sort of shake my head and say ” Too bad” about Clinton’s odd position at State, along with everything else that is “too bad” these days…
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