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WASHINGTON — The thaw in the resentful relationship between the most powerful woman in the Democratic Party and her younger male rival began at the party’s convention this summer, when Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton gave such a passionate speech supporting Senator Barack Obama that his top aides leapt out of their chairs backstage to give her a standing ovation as she swept past.

Mr. Obama, who was in the first steps of what would become a strategic courtship, called afterward to thank her. By then, close aides to Mrs. Clinton said, she had come to respect the campaign Mr. Obama had run against her. At the least, she knew he understood like no one else the brutal strains of their epic primary battle.

By this past Thursday, when Mr. Obama reassured Mrs. Clinton that as secretary of state she would have direct access to him and could select her own staff, the wooing was complete.

UNHAPPY TOGETHER President Bush and Colin Powell had a strained relationship. Enlarge+

UNHAPPY TOGETHER President Bush and Colin Powell had a strained relationship. Enlarge+

“She feels like she’s been treated very well in the way she’s been asked,” said a close associate of Mrs. Clinton, who like others interviewed asked for anonymity because the nomination will not be formally announced until after Thanksgiving.

Few are predicting that this new relationship born of mutual respect and self-interest will grow into a tight bond between the new president and the woman who will be the public face of his foreign policy, though some say it is not impossible. They argue that a close friendship between the two powerful officials is useful but not essential, and is not a predictor of the success of the nation’s chief diplomat.

While James A. Baker III was extraordinarily close to the first President George Bush and is widely considered one of the most successful recent secretaries of state, Dean Acheson was not a friend of Harry S. Truman and Henry A. Kissinger did not particularly like Richard M. Nixon.

“Two of the nation’s greatest secretaries of state in the modern period, Dean Acheson and Henry Kissinger, were not personally close but were intellectually bonded to their presidents,” said Walter Isaacson, the author of a biography of Mr. Kissinger and the co-author, with Evan Thomas, of “The Wise Men,” a book about America’s postwar foreign policy establishment. “I think that Obama and Clinton could form a perfect partnership based on respect for each other’s view of the world.”

TIGHT TEAM James A. Baker III’s success lay in his ties to the first President Bush Enlarge+

TIGHT TEAM James A. Baker III’s success lay in his ties to the first President Bush Enlarge+

Colin L. Powell, who was President Bush’s first-term celebrity secretary of state, would appear to be a cautionary tale for Mrs. Clinton since his relationship with the president was strained, and he left office an unhappy man. But Mr. Bush’s second-term secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, is generally not viewed as having the success her unusually tight bond with the president might have engendered.

 

In the Obama-Clinton relationship, advisers say, the relatively smooth nature of their talks about the secretary of state job indicate that both, for now, have a working chemistry. The advisers say that Mr. Obama was clearly interested in bringing a rival under his wing, and that he also recognized that Mrs. Clinton had far more discipline and focus than her husband.

At the same time, Mr. Obama’s advisers said, he had the self-confidence to name a global brand as his emissary to the world. He recognizes, they said, that after Jan. 20, he will have to build the kind of relationship that ensures that foreign leaders know that when Mrs. Clinton speaks, she is speaking directly for him.

Harry S. Truman and his secretary of state, Dean Acheson. Enlarge+

Harry S. Truman and his secretary of state, Dean Acheson. Enlarge+

“It helps to have a relationship that Bush had with Baker, that’s no doubt true,” said Martin Indyk, a former American ambassador to Israel, who was a supporter of Mrs. Clinton in the primary battles. “But if they are seen as working together effectively, I think that can be easily overcome. I don’t think he would have decided to appoint her if he didn’t want her to be effective.”

 

One close adviser to Mr. Obama said the president-elect also saw that Mrs. Clinton’s political skills would serve her well in the job, as happened with Mr. Baker and Mr. Kissinger. “They understood that statecraft is politics by another name,” the adviser said.

Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton first spoke after their primary fight on a flight in June to Unity, N.H., their first stage-managed appearance after he won the nomination. As they settled into their seats on his plane, the conversation, according to people on both sides, was far less awkward than they had feared. Over the passing weeks, the relationship gradually improved.

“They got past this long before their supporters and the party activists did,” said one Democrat who is close to both Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton.

Henry A. Kissinger and Richard M. Nixon at the White House. Enlarge+

Henry A. Kissinger and Richard M. Nixon at the White House. Enlarge+

After Mrs. Clinton’s speech in support of Mr. Obama at the Democratic convention, she crisscrossed the country tirelessly to campaign for him — so much so that he told aides he was impressed by the sheer number of events she was doing on his behalf.

Mrs. Clinton, it should be said, was herself diligent in advertising how hard she was working for the man who defeated her. When announcing her appearances, her press office included tallies of how many events she had held for Mr. Obama, and in how many states. At some rallies, organizers would distribute “Hillary Sent Me” buttons, as if Mrs. Clinton was being magnanimous by “sending” her followers to vote for Mr. Obama.

But Mr. Obama began calling Mrs. Clinton after some of the events — he dialed directly from his cellphone to hers one day in Michigan and another day in Florida — to check in and thank her for helping. By then, their intense primary fights over policy, which both sides now insist was more about heat than substance, had long receded.

“The reality at the end of the day was, whether it was Iran or health care or some of these other issues, we were always fighting big battles over small differences,” said a senior aide to Mr. Obama, adding that “in a campaign, conflict is what you go to.”

Substantively, the two were at odds over the Iraq war — Mrs. Clinton voted to authorize it and Mr. Obama said he would have opposed it had he been in the Senate then — and to a lesser extent over negotiations with Iran. But although Mrs. Clinton criticized Mr. Obama for being willing to sit down and talk to dictators, he has said he would have a lower-level envoy do preparatory work for a meeting with Iran’s leaders first. Mrs. Clinton has said she favors robust diplomacy with Iran and lower-level contacts as well.

In the weeks just before the election, the relationship between Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton further mellowed, even as she found herself in a startling role reversal with her younger rival. As a celebrity senator and powerhouse on Capitol Hill, she had helped Mr. Obama in his Senate race and offered advice when he first came to Washington; now she was the workhorse for a political phenomenon.

Since the election, Mrs. Clinton has talked to Mr. Obama only a handful of times, even as two close advisers to Mr. Obama who held top positions in the Clinton administration — Rahm Emanuel and John D. Podesta — have served as key negotiators between her and the president-elect on the secretary of state position.

But Mrs. Clinton has talked several times to Michelle Obama about raising a family in the White House and private schools in Washington. On Friday, Mrs. Obama said the two Obama girls, Malia and Sasha, would attend the Sidwell Friends School, just as Chelsea Clinton did.

Jeff Zeleny contributed reporting from Chicago, and Mark Leibovich from Washington.

nyt-logoprinter

 

 

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You could add – that 4 years ago stations like Fox News had significantly more power to influence the way not only voters thought but also what other news agencies eventually reported. It is actually a natural progression for Karl Rove to move over to Fox News as he has done. Because that was a tried and tested talking piece for the campaign(s) he ran. But this campaign is different – in 2000 the few sites promoting Gore – and the Democrats – has exploded – into a landscape of support for Obama and against the Rovian/Swift boat type tactics. So influential – the blogosphere has become – that Fox News was putting the idea out that Obama should try and control the Leftwing/or more supporting blogs – and in true Fox style they went even further to suggest – that if Obama couldn’t control the blogs – then how could he control the country. I think that was then being kind – as they had organized – through negotiation – the O’Reilly interview. And of their promise to offer more inclusive (and dear say somewhat fairer) coverage of his campaign. The blogosphere seems disparate – there is one site and one over there – but together it is having an effect – on any media outlet. Four years ago maybe the Sean Hannitys would have gotten their own way – but not this year – it’s the information age ~ baby! We drill for facts! 

Age has finally become an issue for John McCain. But the problem isn’t the candidate’s 72 years; it’s the antediluvian approach of his campaign.

McCain is running a textbook Rovian race: fear-based, smear-based, anything goes. But it isn’t working. The glitch in the well-oiled machine? The Internet.

“We are witnessing the end of Rovian politics,” Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google told me. And YouTube, which Google bought in 2006 for $1.65 billion, is one of the causes of its demise.

Thanks to YouTube — and blogging and instant fact-checking and viral emails — it is getting harder and harder to get away with repeating brazen lies without paying a price, or to run under-the-radar smear campaigns without being exposed.

But the McCain campaign hasn’t gotten the message, hence the blizzard of racist, alarmist, xenophobic, innuendo-laden accusations being splattered at Obama.

McCain is running a textbook Rovian race: fear-based, smear-based, anything goes. But it isn’t working. The glitch in the well-oiled machine? The Internet.

And it seems that the worse McCain is doing in the polls, the more his team is relying on the same gutter tactics. So over the next 15 days, look for the McCain campaign to become even uglier. That’s what happens when following Rovian politics is your only strategy — and Rovian politics isn’t working.

McCain has stockpiled his campaign with Rove henchmen, including not one but three of the people responsible for the political mugging inflicted on him in 2000.

Just last week he brought on Warren Tompkins in an “unofficial” capacity to see how receptive North Carolina would be to some Rovian slime. After all, it’s right next door to South Carolina, where in 2000 Tomkins and his buddies in the Bush campaign spread race-baiting rumors about McCain having an illegitimate black daughter (referring to McCain’s adopted Bangladeshi daughter Bridget).

And those disgraceful robo-calls that McCain is running? They were done with the help of Jeff Larson and his firm FLS-Connect — the same firm that created the robo-calls smearing McCain in 2000.

At the time, McCain’s reaction to the attacks on him was: “I believe that there is a special place in hell for people like these.”

His reaction now? I have a special place in my campaign for people like these!

So the Karl Rove specials keep coming. Obama and Ayers. Obama the Socialist. Obama and ACORN “destroying the fabric of democracy.” Palin (herself the manifestation of Rovian decision-making) delineating which parts of “this great nation of ours” are “pro-American.” (Interestingly, the sites of the 9/11 attacks didn’t make the list.)

And, did you hear, Obama is also… black! And he wants to give your money to all the poor black people! McCain didn’t come right out and say that, but it’s surely what he insinuated in his radio address this weekend: “Barack Obama’s tax plan would convert the IRS into a giant welfare agency.” Somewhere, Karl Rove is smiling, Richard Nixon’s southern strategy is waxing nostalgic, and John McCain’s missing moral compass is getting steamed about John Lewis’ evocation of the civil rights struggle.

The Internet may make it easier to disseminate character smears, but it also makes it much less likely that these smears will stick.

But there is a diamond amidst all this dung: the lack of traction this Rovian politics is getting. It’s as if Rove and his political arsonists keep lighting fires, only to see them doused by the powerful information spray the Internet has made possible.

The Internet has enabled the public to get to know candidates in a much fuller and more intimate way than in the old days (i.e. four years ago), when voters got to know them largely through 30-second campaign ads and quick sound bites chosen by TV news producers.

Compare that to the way over 6 million viewers (on YouTube alone) were able to watch the entirety of Obama’s 37-minute speech on race — or the thousands of other videos posted by the campaign and its supporters.

Back in the Dark Ages of 2004, when YouTube (and HuffPost, for that matter) didn’t exist, a campaign could tell a brazen lie, and the media might call them on it. But if they kept repeating the lie again and again and again, the media would eventually let it go (see the Swiftboating of John Kerry). Traditional media like moving on to the next shiny thing. But bloggers love revisiting a story. So when Palin kept repeating her bridge to nowhere lie, bloggers kept calling her on it. Andrew Sullivan, for one, has made a cottage industry of calling Palin on her lies. And eventually, the truth filtered up and cost McCain credibility with his true base: journalists.

There are many other anti-Rove Republicans abandoning their party. …because they can’t stand what Bush, Rove and now McCain and Palin have done to their party.

The Internet may make it easier to disseminate character smears, but it also makes it much less likely that these smears will stick.

As a result, the McCain campaign’s insinuation-laden “Who is Barack Obama?” was rendered more comical than spooky. Who is Barack Obama? The guy we’ve been watching over and over and over during the last two years. We’ve seen him. We know him. And we can remind ourselves about him with a quick Google search and a mouse click.

Obama “has shown the same untroubled self-confidence day after day,” and “over the past two years, Obama has clearly worn well with voters.” Those are the words of David Brooks, who has gotten to know Obama just like the rest of us.

Four years ago, McCain’s Rovian race-based appeals to our darker demons might have worked. This year, they are blowing up in McCain’s face. And in the face of the entire GOP.

Colin Powell’s endorsement of Obama as “a transformational figure” was powerful. But even more powerful was his withering indictment of the state of the Republican Party and the cancer of Rovian politics.

It was similar to the diagnosis of Christopher Buckley following his endorsement of Obama: “To paraphrase a real conservative, Ronald Reagan, I haven’t left the Republican Party. It left me.”

There are many other anti-Rove Republicans abandoning their party. I’ve had several Republican friends tell me privately what Powell and Buckley told the world publicly: that they’re voting for Obama. Most of them not because they like Obama, but because they can’t stand what Bush, Rove and now McCain and Palin have done to their party.

Rovian politics may or may not end up destroying the GOP. But, thanks to the Internet, with a bit of luck it will no longer have the power to befoul our democracy.

Source: HP

Colin Powell: New president facing a daunting picture

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