Archive for the ‘Clinton’ Category

Today’s Announcements: Obama’s Handpicked Team for a Foreign Policy Shift

December 1, 2008

When President-elect Barack Obama introduces his national security team on Monday, it will include two veteran cold warriors and a political rival whose records are all more hawkish than that of the new president who will face them in the White House Situation Room.

By David E. Sanger
The New York Times

Yet all three of his choices — Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as the rival turned secretary of state; Gen. James L. Jones, the former NATO commander, as national security adviser, and Robert M. Gates, the current and future defense secretary — have embraced a sweeping shift of priorities and resources in the national security arena.

Damon Winter/The New York Times

Barack Obama’s national security team is to include, from left, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Gen. James L. Jones, a retired Marine commandant.

The shift would create a greatly expanded corps of diplomats and aid workers that, in the vision of the incoming Obama administration, would be engaged in projects around the world aimed at preventing conflicts and rebuilding failed states. However, it is unclear whether the financing would be shifted from the Pentagon; Mr. Obama has also committed to increasing the number of American combat troops.Whether they can make the change — one that Mr. Obama started talking about in the summer of 2007, when his candidacy was a long shot at best — “will be the great foreign policy experiment of the Obama presidency,” one of his senior advisers said recently.

The adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, said the three have all embraced “a rebalancing of America’s national security portfolio” after a huge investment in new combat capabilities during the Bush years.

Denis McDonough, a senior Obama foreign policy adviser, cast the issue slightly differently in an interview on Sunday.

“This is not an experiment, but a pragmatic solution to a long-acknowledged problem,” he said. “During the campaign the then-senator invested a lot of time reaching out to retired military and also younger officers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan to draw on lessons learned. There wasn’t a meeting that didn’t include a discussion of the need to strengthen and integrate the other tools of national power to succeed against unconventional threats. It is critical to a long-term successful and sustainable national security strategy in the 21st century.” Mr. Obama’s advisers said they were already bracing themselves for the charge from the right that he is investing in social work, even though President Bush repeatedly promised such a shift, starting in a series of speeches in late 2005. But they also expect battles within the Democratic Party over questions like whether the billion dollars in aid to rebuild Afghanistan that Mr. Obama promised during the campaign should now be spent on job-creation projects at home.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/01/us/
politics/01policy.html?_r=1&hp

Obama’s strong-willed national security team

November 30, 2008
With Clinton as secretary of State, retired Marine Gen. James Jones Jr. as national security advisor and Gates remaining in Defense, Obama will have a choice among often starkly differing views.
By Paul Richter
The Los Angeles Times
November 30, 2008
Reporting from Washington — President-elect Barack Obama says he wants to lead an administration where strong-willed senior officials are ready to argue forcefully for differing points of view.

It appears that in two months, he’ll get his wish, and then some.

Obama’s new national security team is led by three veteran officials who have differed with each other — and with the president-elect — on the full menu of security issues, including Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, nuclear weapons and Arab-Israel conflict.

The president-elect is expected on Monday to begin introducing a team that includes Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), whom he has chosen as secretary of State; retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones Jr., tapped to be the new national security advisor; and Robert M. Gates, who has agreed to stay on as Defense secretary.

Clinton, Gates, Jones

Carolyn Kaster / AP; Roslan Rahman / AFP/Getty Images; Dennis Cook / AP
THE TEAM: No longer a rival, Clinton and Obama hold similar positions on many issues. Gates, center, is admired by the Obama team despite significant differences over nuclear weapons policy. Jones has separated himself from the Obama playbook on a few issues, including troop withdrawal.

Their collaboration isn’t likely to be as contentious as the first-term Bush administration battles between Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Vice President Dick Cheney. Clinton, Gates and Jones have worked smoothly, with the only visible clashes coming between Clinton and Gates’ deputies over Iraq.

But Obama will have some clear choices among their views, which differ in nuance in some cases and more starkly in others. Obama appears to be determined to keep them in line; advisors say he believes the Pentagon has become too strong in the Bush years, and he wants to reassert White House control.

Some American supporters of Israel have already been buzzing over the potential for conflict between Clinton and Jones on Arab-Israeli issues.

Jones, an admired former Marine commandant and supreme allied commander of NATO, was appointed last November as a Bush administration envoy charged with trying to improve the often dysfunctional Palestinian security forces. As part of that assignment, he drafted a report that caused a stir in Israel by criticizing the Israeli Defense Forces’ activities in the Palestinian territories.

Read the rest:
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/washingtondc/la-na-security30-2008nov30,0,7160819.story

National Security Pick: From a Marine to a Mediator

November 29, 2008

James L. Jones, a retired four-star general, was among a mostly Republican crowd watching a presidential debate in October when Barack Obama casually mentioned that he got a lot of his advice on foreign policy from General Jones.

By Helene Cooper
The New York Times

 

“Explain yourself!” some of the Republicans demanded, as General Jones later recalled it.

He did not. A 6-foot-5 Marine Corps commandant with the looks of John Wayne, General Jones is not given to talking about his political bent, be it Republican or Democrat. And yet, he is Mr. Obama’s choice for national security adviser, a job that will make him the main foreign policy sounding board and sage to a president with relatively little foreign policy experience.

The selection of General Jones will elevate another foreign policy moderate to a team that will include Robert M. Gates, a carry-over from the Bush administration, as defense secretary and Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state. By bringing a military man to the White House, Mr. Obama may be trying to cement an early bond with military leaders who regard him with some uneasiness, particularly over his call for rapid troop reductions in Iraq.

But General Jones will also be expected to mediate between rivals, particularly in dealing with Mr. Gates, who has his own power base at the Pentagon, and with Mrs. Clinton, who has told friends that she does not expect the national security adviser to stand between her and the president.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/29/us/politics/
29jones.html?_r=1&hp

In this Sept. 6, 2007 file photo, retired Marine Corps Gen. ... 
In this Sept. 6, 2007 file photo, retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones, chairman of the Iraqi Security Forces Independent Assessment Commission, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Jones, 64, is expected to be announced by Obama next week as part of the president-elect’s national security team, along with Robert Gates as secretary of defense and Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.(AP Photo/Dennis Cook, File)

Left cuts Obama slack for now

November 21, 2008

As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama boasted of opposing the Iraq War from the start.

By Glenn Thrush and Ryan Grim, Politico

But as president-elect, he has come to the rescue of surge supporter Joe Lieberman and flirted with the idea of keeping on Bush administration Defense Secretary Robert Gates — and now he seems poised to nominate war-authorizing Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to serve as his secretary of state. 

The sound from the left: not silence, but no howls of betrayal, either.

“Anybody who has reacted after two weeks is not a serious person,” said Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.).

Members of Obama’s loyal liberal base — from the Netroots to campus liberals to Hill Democrats — are watching closely as the candidate’s vague incantations of hope coalesce into cold, concrete presidential decision making. It’s not a seamless transition, but so far the left seems to be cutting Obama some favorite-son slack. Then again, he’s been president-elect for only two weeks — even milk bought on the day he was elected hasn’t had time to go sour.

“People continue to be excited,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat who represents an Oregon district he described as one of the five most progressive in the nation. “They’re still going to websites. There are campaigns they can be involved with. They’re still networking and raising ideas and moving forward.”

Anti-war voters are used to being disappointed. Some were flabbergasted when George W. Bush won a second term in the midst of the war in 2004; others were disillusioned when the Democrats didn’t do more to stop the war after capturing majorities of the House and the Senate in 2006.

And for some, that “here we go again” feeling came rushing back recently when Obama urged his soon-to-be-former Democratic Senate colleagues not to hold “grudges” against Lieberman, who infuriated liberals with his support for Iraq then picked at the scab by supporting John McCain — and opposing Obama — during the presidential race.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20081121/pl_politico/
15845;_ylt=AkRpmxcP5trpc9z49g2ijeus0NUE

Barack Obama will follow Lincoln’s lead in choosing bipartisan Cabinet

November 17, 2008

Barack Obama said today he would appoint at least one Republican to his cabinet as he praised the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln – a president who gave top posts to several of his bitterest political enemies.

Mr Obama, who meets John McCain in Chicago tomorrow to discuss ways they can work together after he becomes president, said he would be announcing Cabinet appointments soon, days after he discussed with Hillary Clinton the possibility of making her his Secretary of State.

In his first full interview since winning the election, Mr Obama described the challenges he faces when he takes office in January as “enormous” and “multiple”.

He made clear his determination to pick the most effective team to tackle them, even if it means choosing former rivals and Republicans.
Mr Obama said he had spent “a lot of time” reading the writings of President Lincoln since the election, because “there is a wisdom there and a humility about his approach to government, even before he was president, that I just find very helpful.”

He and Mrs Clinton have both read and admired ‘Team of Rivals’, Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book about how President Lincoln bought old foes into government after winning the 1860 election.

Reminded that the 16th president put many of his political enemies in his cabinet, Mr Obama was asked on CBS’s 60 Minutes whether he was considering the same approach. “Well, I’ll tell you what,” he replied. “I find him a very wise man.”

Lincoln and his cabinet. Courtesy of The Gilder Lehrman Collection, New York

Read the rest:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_
americas/us_elections/article5167418.ece

Republican Charles Krauthammer Praises Barack Obama

November 9, 2008
NBCs Tom Brokaw noted this quote on “Meet the Press” on Sunday.  It is worth reading again….

“With him [Obama] we get a president with the political intelligence of a Bill Clinton harnessed to the steely self-discipline of a Vladimir Putin. (I say this admiringly.) With these qualities, Obama will now bestride the political stage as largely as did Reagan.”

 

Iran's parliament speaker Ali Larijani has slammed US president-elect ...
US president-elect Barack Obama. 

(AFP/Getty Images/Justin Sullivan)

Read it all:
https://johnibii.wordpress.com/2008/11/07/mccain-most-
worthy-candidate-ever-to-lose/

Icon Of World War II To Present Refurbished, Returns to Historic Mission

November 8, 2008

The aircraft carrier USS Intrepid is an icon hero of World War II.  She suffered five attacks by suicide pilots —   — and over 200 sailors were killed on her decks.

Intrepid participated in the Pacific Theater of Operations of World War II, most notably the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Later she recovered spacecraft of the Mercury and Gemini programs and served in the Vietnam War. Since 1982, Intrepid has been part of the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York City. Because of her prominent role in battle, she was nicknamed “the Fighting I.”

Read about USS Intrepid on Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Intrepid_(CV-11)


Above: USS Intrepid in the World War II time frame

Intrepid Returns to New York WaterfrontFrom Fox News, NY

 

The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is reopening to the public with a two-day celebration.

A Saturday ribbon cutting aboard the World War II aircraft carrier will be followed by musical performances and fireworks.  Members of the Fire Department, the Police Department and the military also will gather for a game of tug-of-war.

The museum on the Hudson River underwent a 22-month, $120 million restoration at a New Jersey drydock. It returned home last month.

After WWII, the ship saw service in the Korean and Vietnam wars and was twice a recovery ship for NASA astronauts. Since 1982 it has become one of the city’s most popular tourist sites, drawing some 750,000 visitors yearly over the past decade.
******************

USS Intrepid’s Reopening, New Dedication Features Honors, Praises, HistoryBy Bill Blayer, Newsday

 

After a two-year, $120-million restoration project for ship and pier, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum reopens to the public Saturday with a day of special events.

The official grand reopening event will be held Tuesday on Veterans Day, when President George W. Bush is scheduled to be onboard to be honored by the museum.

After extensive work at a Bayonne drydock and a Staten Island pier, the historic aircraft carrier berthed at Pier 86 at West 46th Street and 12th Avenue offers new exhibits including areas of the ship never before accessible, four new aircraft and the rest of the planes repainted, a new public park-like pier and new handicapped accessibility. It also will charging higher admission fees: $3 more for adults to $19.50.

The first visitors begin touring the new displays and renovated ... 
The first visitors begin touring the new displays and renovated aircraft in the hangar bay on board the USS Intrepid, Saturday, Nov. 8, 2008, in New York. The ship reopened to the public today after a two year renovation. (AP Photo/Edouard H.R. Gluck)

On Saturday, the museum will open at 10 a.m. At 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., the Chaminade High School band will perform; at 1 there will be a tug-of-war between the FDNY, NYPD, Navy and Marine Corps; at 5:30 there will be a performance by the USO and Liberty Belles; at 6 a performance by Annapolis Men’s Glee Club and Barbershop Quartet; and fireworks at 7 p.m. Sunday hours are 10 to 6.

On Tuesday, the ship commissioned in 1943 will be closed to the public until 2 p.m. while the president attends Veterans Day ceremonies and is presented with the 2008 Intrepid Freedom Award. The award recognizes world leaders who embody the ideals of world freedom and democracy. Prior honorees include presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin, Margaret Thatcher and Silvio Berlusconi, and Russian President Boris Yeltsin.

“This is only the second time a sitting president has visited us,” museum president Bill White said.

Gov. David A. Paterson also is scheduled to attend along with 2,500 veterans.

The museum expects 1 million visitors in the next year to see the new exhibits aboard the 29,000-ton ship, including the newly opened fo’c’sle area where the anchor chains are stored in the bow, officers’ quarters and crew’s mess.

Ben Kalsman, 5, reaches skyward, as he sits on the shoulders ... 
Ben Kalsman, 5, reaches skyward, as he sits on the shoulders of his Father, Arden, waiting to board the USS Intrepid, Saturday, Nov. 8, 2008, in New York. The ship reopened to the public today, after a two year renovation. (AP Photo/Edouard H.R. Gluck)

Obama apologizes for Nancy Reagan joke

November 8, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama called to apologize to former first lady Nancy Reagan on Friday after he made an errant joke at her expense in his first postelection press conference.

By Steven Dinan
The Washington Times

Mr. Obama, answering a question about which ex-presidents’ advice he sought, said he had “spoken to all of them that are living.” He went on, but appeared to realize he probably didn’t need the “living” qualifier, and explained, “I didn’t want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about, you know, doing any seances.”

The joke at the expense of the ailing former first lady rubbed some who heard it the wrong way, and within hours Mr. Obama said he was wrong.

“President-elect Barack Obama called Nancy Reagan today to apologize for the careless and off-handed remark he made during today’s press conference,” spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said in a statement Friday evening. “The president-elect expressed his admiration and affection for Mrs. Reagan that so many Americans share, and they had a warm conversation.”

Reagan

Above: Mrs. Ronald (Nancy) Reagan

Mr. Obama seemed to get his facts backward in making the joke, aiming at Mrs. Reagan when it was actually Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton who wrote in her syndicated column during her time as first lady that she occasionally held imaginary conversations with long-dead first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

“I occasionally have imaginary conversations with Mrs. Roosevelt to try to figure out what she would do in my shoes,” Mrs. Clinton wrote in a June 1996 column. “She usually responds by telling me to buck up or at least to grow skin as thick as a rhinoceros.”

Mrs. Reagan, by contrast, consulted an astrologer friend about auspicious days for scheduling events. The White House said the practice began after the attempt on President Reagan’s life.

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library didn’t respond to a message asking about the incident.

After an election heavy on personality, in which the candidates made headway with voters on “The View,” “The Daily Show” and celebrity gossip blogs, maybe it was fitting Mr. Obama found himself explaining what books he’s reading, what kind of dog he’s going to get and which presidents he has talked to for advice in response to a question from Chicago Sun-Times Washington Bureau Chief Lynn Sweet.

She asked: “I’m wondering what you’re doing to get ready. Have you spoke to any living ex-presidents, what books you might be reading? Everyone wants to know, what kind of dog are you going to buy for your girls? Have you decided on a private or public school for your daughters?”

Mr. Obama said the dog – something he promised his daughters on election night – is a “major issue” in their household. They are looking for a breed that is hypoallergenic because of his daughter Malia’s allergies.

“Our preference would be to get a shelter dog, but, obviously, a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me,” he said, referring to his being the child of a white American woman and a black Kenyan man.

“So whether we’re going to be able to balance those two things, I think is a pressing issue on the Obama household.”

Obama Should Make Haste Slowly

November 7, 2008

Festina lente. Make haste slowly. That was the motto of the revolutionary-minded young Augustus who soon grasped that he needed to build upon Rome’s past, rather than dismantle it.

Amid the celebration of the historic victory of Barack Obama, the country should now quit the bickering, appreciate a fair and peaceful transference of power, and unite behind its new commander in chief.

By Victor David Hanson
The Washington Times

But in turn our new President Obama would do well to heed that ancient Roman wisdom, appreciating that the real world after Nov. 4 is not exactly the same as its frequent caricature during the hard-fought campaign.

John McCain promised to cut taxes on all. Mr. Obama promised to raise them on some. But neither plan fully appreciated that we are now buried deep under trillions of dollars of debt – and need both more revenue and less expenditure.

An Obama administration, like it or not, must cede to the laws of physics: America will have to pay down debt while not raising taxes too high at a time of recession. That balancing act will make it hard to borrow additional billions for more promised federal spending.

“Hope and change” may have implied an easy transition to our clean, cool solar and wind future. But for a while longer, America’s envisioned new electric cars will still require old-fashioned natural gas, coal and nuclear power to generate electricity to charge them.

Economic slowdown, conservation and public promises to drill more oil and natural gas have already helped to collapse world oil prices and saved us billions. And before we talk of ending the coal industry, we should thank our lucky stars that America has the world’s most plentiful supply of coal to transition us to alternate sources of energy.

We need more regulation of both Wall Street and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which all went feral and turned on us during both the Clinton and Bush administrations. Yet European leaders are faced with far worse financial meltdowns than we are – and their problems have nothing to do with American excess or George Bush.

The dollar is climbing against the Euro because market analysts realize that for all our sins, American financial institutions are still far less exposed than those elsewhere in the world, and our free-market system far more flexible to recover from excess and grow the economy.

Some have called for the Wall Street bailout to be just the first, rather than the last, large federal takeover of American finance. But again, we should remember that despite a looming recession, Americans are still collectively the most affluent and free citizens in the world – precisely because our unique free-market system creates enormous wealth and draws in more capital and talent than elsewhere on promises of commensurate individual rewards. President Obama need not give radical chemotherapy to an ill economy that does not have a fatal cancer.

The shooting war in Iraq is ending. President Obama can continue to withdraw American troops slowly on the basis of a growing victory, rather than rashly and harnessed to an artificial timetable. In time, a Democratic administration could assert that a constitutional government in Iraq and an unprecedented defeat of al Qaeda in the heart of the ancient caliphate enhanced U.S. security at home and abroad – and are achievements to be claimed rather than simply reckless acts to be abruptly abandoned.

For all the campaign charges of unfairness, America currently has the most progressive tax system in the world, in which the top 5 percent of wage earners pay over 60 percent of all federal income taxes. President Obama will raise rates, as promised. Yet he might consider that Americans in the past came to accept the Clinton income tax hike to 40 percent on the top bracket – but may well balk at adding unprecedented increases in payroll taxes on top of all that. That combination could mean a sizable tax raise on many of those self-employed who already pay nearly half their income in various taxes – and gut rather than just shear the sheep.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/nov/
07/make-haste-slowly/

Rahm Emanuel Pick Indicates “Obama is No More Mr. Nice Guy”

November 6, 2008

Barack Obama is signaling a shift in tactics and temperament as he moves from candidate to president-elect, picking sharp-elbowed Washington insiders for top posts.

His choice Thursday for White House chief of staffRahm Emanuel, a fiery partisan who doesn’t mind breaking glass and hurting feelings — is a significant departure from the soft-spoken, low-key aides that “No-Drama Obama” has surrounded himself with during his campaign. And transition chief John Podesta, like Emanuel, is a former top aide to Bill Clinton and a tough partisan infighter, though less bombastic than the new chief of staff.

By LIZ SIDOTI and NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer

The selections are telling for Obama, who campaigned as a nontraditional, almost “post-partisan” newcomer. People close to him say the selections show that Obama is aware of his weaknesses as well as his strengths and knows what he needs to be successful as he shifts from campaigning to governing.

“No one I know is better at getting things done than Rahm Emanuel,” Obama said in a statement announcing the selection.

Obama, who survived a long contest with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, also has made it clear he will rely heavily on veterans of her husband’s eight-year administration, the only Democratic presidency in the past 28 years. Podesta was President Clinton‘s chief of staff, and several other former Clinton aides are on Obama’s short lists for key jobs, Democratic officials say. Some of them helped write a large briefing book on how to govern, assembled under Podesta’s supervision.

Obama himself brims with self-confidence, to the point that some people view him as arrogant. But to a greater degree than many presidents, he appears willing to lean on Washington insiders associated with other politicians.

Still, he is also certain to bring to the White House a cadre of longtime aides.

Emanuel accepted Obama’s offer with a gesture of bipartisanship, addressing part of his statement to Republicans. “We often disagree, but I respect their motives,” Emanuel said. “Now is a time for unity, and, Mr. President-elect, I will do everything in my power to help you stitch together the frayed fabric of our politics, and help summon Americans of both parties to unite in common purpose.”

That would come as news to some Republicans.

In contrast to Obama’s collegial style and that of his top campaign advisers, Emanuel is known as a foul-mouthed practitioner of brass-knuckled politics who relishes both conflict and publicity. He once mailed a dead fish to a political foe.

But he also earned a reputation for pragmatic efficiency, whether the goal was winning House elections for Democrats or working with Republicans to enact Clinton’s centrist political agenda.

“Rahm knows Capitol Hill and has great political skills,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. “He can be a tough partisan but also understands the need to work together.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081106/ap_on_el_pr/obama;_
ylt=Ai_QF7iBJ4B4Y4lCCNEnNcqs0NUE