Thursday, December 12, 2013

Taking Up A Collection

As dear readers know, Hillary Clinton has traveled the globe yet not visited the exotic landscape of Iowa in almost six years, since caucs night 2008. But according to this Politico piece, tellingly titled Lament of the Plutocrats, she did find time to give a recent speech at Goldman Sachs HQ:
Clinton offered a message that the collected plutocrats found reassuring, according to accounts offered by several attendees, declaring that the banker-bashing so popular within both political parties was unproductive and indeed foolish. Striking a soothing note on the global financial crisis, she told the audience, in effect: We all got into this mess together, and we’re all going to have to work together to get out of it. What the bankers heard her to say was just what they would hope for from a prospective presidential candidate: Beating up the finance industry isn’t going to improve the economy—it needs to stop. And indeed Goldman’s Jim O’Neill, the laconic Brit who heads the bank’s asset management division, introduced Clinton by saying how courageous she was for speaking at the bank. (Brave, perhaps, but also well-compensated: Clinton’s minimum fee for paid remarks is $200,000).
I've been doing this all wrong. My asking nice - ok, my obsessive kvetching on a blog with literally tens of readers - won't work. It's time to take up a collection. Let's pass the beret and get a couple hundred grand together.

I'll take the money and start a SuperPAC: Joint Organization Helping Negotiate Democratic Early Engagement Toward Hillary. If that won't fit on your check just use the acronym.
Then we can pay Hillary to give a speech in Iowa. It'll be an invite only event of course but I'm the fat cat who raised the money so I do the inviting.

Speaking of fat cats did you see where these feral felines took over the Nativity scene? I CAN HAZ BABY JESUZ? IT WUZ NOMS

Anyway. I do the inviting and I may even ask some of my old Iowa CCI friends to stop by, on the condition that their chants exclude the phrases HEY HEY HO HO and WHEN DO WE WANT IT? NOW!

If we up the ante to a half million, we might even get Hillary to take questions.

One question raised this week: how good a Secretary of State, really, was Clinton? I'm actually kind of agnostic on this one, and this piece also offers a mixed verdict.
Howard Berman, a strong Clinton backer who chaired the House Foreign Affairs Committee during her tenure, offered me a great example of the first line of reasoning: You don’t pick your moments, but deal with the world as you find it. “I don’t believe Secretary Clinton was constrained by future political considerations,” he wrote to me. “Let’s look at the issues Kerry is working on and it is clear that Clinton, for rather obvious reasons, couldn’t have replicated what he has done because those issues weren’t ripe then. … It’s about a different time.”

Blaming the White House, of course, is a common theme in any critique of a foreign policy record, and that’s especially so when it comes to the question of Clinton’s dealings with the White House of the president she ran against in 2008. Throughout her tenure as secretary of state, Washington wondered over the extent of Clinton’s actual influence in foreign policy decision-making (“she’s really the principal implementer,” Obama adviser Denis McDonough told me, when I asked about the division of labor between Obama’s White House and Clinton’s State Department for a Foreign Policy article last year). And it was by all accounts Obama himself who was reluctant to take on some of the challenges, like Middle East peace talks or a more activist stance toward the civil war unfolding in Syria, that Clinton is now dinged for avoiding.
Of course, you can only negotiate across a table from the other side. And government change in Iran has given Obama and John Kerry new opportunities. But we were reminded of the biggest obstacle to comprehensive middle east peace this week when Benjamin Netanyahu pointedly dodged Nelson Mandela's memorial. Haaretz writes:
His message is clear: My Israel, which spends untold tens of millions on such matters as bolstering and protecting settlement construction during peace negotiations with the Palestinians, or erecting detention facilities for African asylum seekers rather than formulating coherent and just refugee policies, has nothing left over for this man Mandela.

But that's only the beginning. With a wink and a nod to the settler right, the academic rabid right, and the KKK-esque far right, Netanyahu is sending an even stronger message:

This is where I stand on this Palestinian-lover, Mandela. And this is where I stand on his Palestinian-lover heirs.
Kind of draws an obvious parallel, doesn't it? And the biggest problem in our American domestic debate over foreign policy is that I only dare say any of this because I'm quoting an Israeli publication.

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