Fox had the Republican presidential candidates last night; my impressions on it here.
And please Don’t call that a debate, it was a forum.
Hillary, speaking from Lima, Peru,
“I take responsibility,” Clinton told CNN in an interview while on a visit to Peru. “I’m in charge of the State Department’s 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts. The president and the vice president wouldn’t be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals. They’re the ones who weigh all of the threats and the risks and the needs and make a considered decision.”
But she said an investigation now under way will ultimately determine what happened at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, where Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed on September 11.
“I take this very personally,” Clinton said. “So we’re going to get to the bottom of it, and then we’re going to do everything we can to work to prevent it from happening again, and then we’re going to work to bring whoever did this to us to justice.”
Carefully worded, indeed:
Which brings to mind Tonto’s question to the Lone Ranger, “what do you mean ‘we’ kimo-sabe?”
Of course, the investigation’s not going to come up with anything until well after the election. By inauguration time, no matter who wins (unless the media can blame Romney), Benghazi will be yet another one of those disappearing story lines Jennifer Rubin writes about.
Hillary’s carefully-worded statement is hardly surprising, considering how Bill had the lawyers over the weekend. It is, as Jim Geraghty calls it, The Endless, Empty Refrain of ‘I Take Responsibility’
There’s a strange habit in politics of public figures declaring that they’re “taking responsibility” for something going wrong… but then not following up with any particular action, contrition, or consequence.
Absent from any of this is any kind of clearly outlined and verbalized American foreign policy, something that affects not only Libya, but our own hemisphere, Monroe Doctrine be damned.
The question, Who is responsible for what in Libya? remains unanswered.
But back to Hillary: Da Tech Guy is right on the money, pointing out that Hillary Makes The Smartest Political Move of this Cycle
This is the move of a political master. Consider what this accomplishes:
It is a statesman like move, going forward and not ducking responsibility in a way nobody has been willing to do.
It covers her, by taking responsibility it heads off all kinds of stories that might come up with a theme of finding fault. Why should congress investigate to pin blame when it’s already been accepted?
It supports the president, by taking the blame she shields the first Black president both showing herself a good soldier to the party and most importantly to the black community.
It undermines Obama by making her look strong, and him look weak. He is now forced to make some kind of statement second as a response. It’s the 3 AM phone call with her answering while he goes to Vegas.
It ends press coverage on what the Obama Administration should do next, blame assigned move on.
It doesn’t end coverage it changes it. What will the president do about this? It puts Obama in a box. Blame is assigned so what is the punishment? If Hillary is responsible does he ask for her resignation, does he fire her? With his electoral prospects already sinking he dare not do either, and God help him if she resigns on her own. It would be another example of her acting while he is paralyzed. It is the final act of Carterization of the president.
It makes her vulnerable as every commentator on the right calls for her head in the hope of embarrassing Obama and taking her down a peg.
It gets her in good with the base of her party. I can see the fundraising e-mails now. “She’s taken responsibility and those nasty right wingers are piling on” This will coin money for her. That doesn’t even take into account how the press will react.
It hurts her 2016 election prospects after all she is responsible for an attack on the US on the Anniversary of 9/11 no less.
Not only does this make her look presidential (Expect comparisons to JFK’s Bay of Pigs speech from the MSM) but it neutralizes her primary opponents on the subject, in fact for the second time in twelve years she will be able to paint herself as the victim of the irresponsibility of a man who should have known better.
It hands President Romney a ready-made issue in 2016 to use.
It puts Romney in a box. Every president has foreign policy failures and Mitt will have his share. Imagine the debate answer: “President Romney is right. I was secretary of state during the Benghazi debacle and I took full responsibility for it. What I would like to know is when the president will take responsibility for (insert relevant issue here)”. It will put and keep Mitt on the defensive.
The Bottom line is forgetting all the national security and moral issues involved. Hillary has done the thing that most helps her in the long run while all the time managing to undermine her foes on both the left and the right in one fell swoop.
That doesn’t mean it wasn’t the right thing to do, it IS but as usual the right thing is generally the smart thing and this was the smartest thing anyone in this administration has done in a while.
This story may continue, but in terms of its negative impact there will be little if any on Hillary Clinton from this point on.
As for tonight’s debate, expect Obama to repeat Hillary’s words, maybe even verbatim. The media will declare him the winner no matter what.
The Diplomad asks:
The real issue is not whether another inch of concrete, or a few armed guards would have made the difference in Benghazi. Given the size and violence of the attack, I doubt that would have done much. The real issues are what was that facility and what was it doing that was so important given the security environment? Why was the Ambassador there on 9/11?
Even more important, note later on her garbled comments about the key matters, to wit, the attack, the Obama misadministration’s characterization of the attack, and the nature of its response to an attack that went on for some six hours. Nowhere does she say that she contacted the White House, the Libyan government, or that she proposed any particular action. Nowhere does she explain the difference between the statements put out by Rice, Obama, and herself, blaming the attack on a virtually unseen video, and the statements by State and CIA career officers that State never concluded that the attack was the result of an anti-video demonstration gone rogue.
My latest post, Brazil: Lula Invites Bush for Fishing Trip is up at Real Clear World. Please read it and comment.
Please note there’s no podcast today. I’ll be liveblogging Pres. Obama’s swearing with the Real Clear World Blog guys. However, you can listen to any of the prior podcasts by clicking on the audio player in the middle of my Blog Talk Radio page or here:
Nearly 100 wealthy families and power couples contributed at least $100,000 each to help Barack Obama over the past two years, creating an elite set of donors to whom the president-elect repeatedly turned in financing his campaign, transition and inauguration, a Washington Post analysis shows.
John McCain, after pushing trough campaign finance reform and tying his hands behind his back by campaigning on public financing funds, lost big:
The ability to direct such large sums to a presidential candidate stems in part from the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance legislation. The law banned unlimited “soft money” donations, but it increased the amount individuals can steer to presidential candidates by allowing them to donate directly to a campaign as well as to state and national political parties to help elect a candidate.
Under the law, the maximum amount an individual can give in a presidential election year has gone from $25,000 to $70,100 over the past five years. And by creating joint fundraising committees — allowing donors to give the maximum to all three funding pools at once — campaigns have become much more efficient in collecting the donations.
Not that the Obama campaign is giving up on small donors. People are still getting weekly or almost-weekly emails asking for $5 donations.
Let this be a lesson to you, Republicans.
On taxpayer-funded PBS, reporters have a difficult time using words like “terrorist” to describe politically motivated bombers – even when Democratic officials have no problem using the term. On Thursday night’s NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, describing controversial Clinton administration pardons, PBS’s Ray Suarez identified the Puerto Rican terrorist group FALN as merely a “separatist organization,” even though in the soundbite that followed, Attorney General nominee Eric Holder clearly described the FALN as terrorists
130 bomb attacks during a period of nine years, six dead, and Suarez can’t get himself to call them terrorists. At least he didn’t refer to them as “political prisoners”, which is the meme among some.
Even if you’re not attending the inagural, here’s info on road restrictions in the DC area.
Including a whole collectibles shop from Cafepress.
Friggin’ peachy: now we’re going to be engaging the Islamists:
The incoming Obama administration is prepared to abandon George Bush’s doctrine of isolating Hamas by establishing a channel to the Islamist organisation, sources close to the transition team say.
The move to open contacts with Hamas, which could be initiated through the US intelligence services, would represent a definitive break with the Bush presidency’s ostracising of the group. The state department has designated Hamas a terrorist organisation, and in 2006 Congress passed a law banning US financial aid to the group.
The Guardian has spoken to three people with knowledge of the discussions in the Obama camp. There is no talk of Obama approving direct diplomatic negotiations with Hamas early on, but he is being urged by advisers to initiate low-level or clandestine approaches, and there is growing recognition in Washington that the policy of ostracising Hamas is counter-productive. A tested course would be to start contacts through Hamas and the US intelligence services, similar to the secret process through which the US engaged with the PLO in the 1970s. Israel did not become aware of the contacts until much later.
Why are they doing that? So that the world will like us, “will really like us”: Call it the Sally Field school of diplomacy:
Obama has said repeatedly that restoring America’s image in the world would rank among the top priorities of his administration
Maybe Obama will send Sally to do the talking.
The rash reality (which will get harsher) is that the US, as long as it stands for freedom and democracy, will never be liked by its enemies.
Here’s what’s going on:
Andres Oppenheimer, reporting from Buenos Aires finds Chávez, allies manipulating anti-Israel views
Earlier this week, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez — who has signed a ”strategic alliance” with Iran, main state sponsor of Hamas — expelled the Israeli ambassador, citing Israel’s alleged ”genocide” in Gaza. While there were heated street rallies in Miami and other U.S. cities, in South American cities they have been bigger and more violent.
Argentina’s government-backed leftist street protests organizer Luis D’Elia, who this week confirmed to Noticias magazine that he had received $1 million from Cuba to pay for anti-American protests during President George W. Bush’s 2005 visit to Argentina, on Tuesday led a rally in front of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires. Protesters threw paint and other objects at the mission.
What is going on? I asked myself. Is it because Argentina and Uruguay have large Jewish and Arab communities? Is it because of a somewhat perverse subliminal feeling of comfort that people in other regions have it worse than South Americans?
ALL ABOUT POLITICS
Many people told me that it all boils down to politics, and petro-dollars. Chávez and his allies, including Argentina’s President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, are importing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a region where Jews and Muslims used to live in significant harmony.
The region’s involvement in Middle Eastern politics has intensified since 2006, when Chávez first hosted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad has since returned to Venezuela, and has also visited Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia, in addition to receiving other Latin American presidents in Tehran.
Ahmadinejad signed several economic and political agreements, including plans to finance new pro-government television and radio stations in Bolivia and other Latin American countries.
Emilio Cardenas, a former Argentine ambassador to the United Nations, says Iran and Venezuela are benefiting from stirring up anti-Israeli sentiment in the region.
When the Venezuelan government-financed regional Telesur television station feeds free footage of Palestinian children hit by Israeli bombs to Argentine and other Latin American television stations, the not-so-subliminal message is that Washington is backing an atrocity, Cardenas said.
”For Chávez, knocking on Israel is knocking on the United States,” Cardenas said. ``Stirring up anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiment is functional to both Venezuelan and Iran’s political propaganda purposes.”
Ah, yes, Iran and Venezuelan, those tiny countries that pose no serious threat:
As a result of Chavez’s policy, which according to Obama “poses no threat,” Venezuela’s Jews close their schools
The rabbi said the latest incident affecting the Jewish community was the decision by the government to expropriate ownership of a large mall that was built by a Jewish businessman outside the San Bernadino district in Caracas.
In addition, twice in recent years Venezuelan military forces have raided the 1,400-pupil Jewish school in the Los Chorros neighborhood, ostensibly looking for arms.
But the most important development, which could have a major impact on the future of the country, is a referendum slated for next month.
Venezuelans will be asked to approve a measure that would allow Chavez and other politicians to be reelected indefinitely.
Chavez has been president since 1998.
“If that referendum passes I expect a lot of Jews will leave Venezuela, because it would mean Chavez is here to stay,” the rabbi said.
Shmuel Kornblit, Bnei Akiva’s Buenos Aires-based regional director for Latin America, said that in addition to the diplomatic staff, Bnei Akiva’s emissary to Venezuela, Yoav Weiner, and his wife, Maya, a Jewish Agency emissary were forced to leave.
“This move does not bode well for Jewish education in Venezuela,” Kornblit said by by telephone from Argentina.
“Jewish education in South America depends on outside educators. Now with the diplomatic mission forced to leave it will be very difficult to convince educators to come to Venezuela,” he said.
Kornblit explained that for security reasons the Weiners could not remain in Caracas. He added that Israelis who lacked non-Israeli passports had a difficult time obtaining visas to visit Venezuela.
“There is a strong anti-Israel sentiment in Venezuela, not so much anti-Semitism more anti-Zionism. That’s why Haredim have fewer problems there.”
Hugo’s going to love Obama.
The rest of us are going to look back fondly to the disastrous Carter administration and think of it as “the good ol’ days.”
As Richard put it, every nightmare begins with a dream.
On second thought
Maybe Obama should pick Blagojevich as Mid-East Envoy
Mr. Panetta has a reputation in Washington as a competent manager with strong background in budget issues, but has little hands-on intelligence experience. If confirmed by the Senate, he will take control of the agency most directly responsible for hunting senior Al Qaeda leaders around the globe, but one that has been buffeted since the Sept. 11 attacks by leadership changes and morale problems.
A quick look at Panetta’s Wikipedia page shows
He served as White House Chief of Staff to Bill Clinton, and before that was a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1976 to 1993. He is the founder and director of the Panetta Institute, serves as Distinguished Scholar to the Chancellor of the California State University system and is a professor at Santa Clara University teaching public policy.
During his time in Congress, his work concentrated mostly on budget issues, civil rights, education, health, and environmental issues, particularly preventing oil drilling off the California coast. He wrote the Hunger Prevention Act (Public Law 100-435) of 1988 and the Fair Employment Practices Resolution. He was a major factor in establishing the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
His positions included:
* Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on the Budget
* Chairman of the Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Domestic Marketing, Consumer Relations, and Nutrition
* Chairman of the Administration Committee’s Subcommittee on Personnel and Police
* Chairman of the Task Force on Domestic Hunger created by the U.S. House Select Committee on Hunger
* Vice Chairman of the Caucus of Vietnam-Era Veterans in Congress
* Member of the President’s Commission on Foreign Language and International Studies.
WHich begs the question,
What experience Panetta has on anything related to national security, the CIA or anything near related to the job?
his selection points up the difficulty Mr. Obama had in finding a C.I.A. director with no connection to controversial counterterrorism programs of the Bush era.
Hope, change, whatever.
Panetta’s tenure at the White House — both as Director of OMB and as Chief of Staff — was apparently characterized by a constant tension between him and the CIA, with his desire for deeper budget cuts being the running theme. CIA Director Woolsey had to form alliances with the Defense Department to fend off these deep cuts, as well as to ensure that the CIA retained some ability to track an expanding number of threats in a multipolar world.
UPDATE, Tuesday 6 January
Barack calls Leon Panetta.