Archive for the ‘Kerry’ Category

New Secretary Faces Fixing Under-Resourced State Department

November 15, 2008
On news that president-elect Barack Obama is considering Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of state, Fox News brought out Democratic strategist Bob Bechel this morning who asked, “What does Hillary really want to do?  Get more post offices for the finger lakes region of New York or, as Secretary of state, visit European capitols and China?” In my opinion, this is one of the key problems with the State Department.  The Secretary of State often enjoys being “diplomat and traveler in chief” but often ignores his or her role as a key department head of the U.S. government charged with actually managing the Department of State.  During Condoleezza Rice’s time this came to a head when several of State’s diplomats refused to go to assignments in “hot spots” like Iraq.  These “public servants” were mostly coddled and cajoled while U.S. military volunteers, who take the same oath of service as State’s employees, face discipline when they refuse orders or assignments.  The point is that the next Secretary of State will have to deal with Russia, Iran, Iraq, China, Pakistan the Middle East and a host of other ‘hot spots.”  He or she will have to also get and keep the State Department at Foggy Bottom in line, on track, and in order — or it will become foggier still….

Seal of the United States Department of State


By Michael Abramowitz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 15, 2008; Page A04

The next secretary of state not only will face the challenge of repairing the nation’s tattered image and grappling with an array of global crises and hot spots, but also must solve a problem closer to home: reforming an under-resourced State Department to handle its growing duties, such as rebuilding war-torn societies, coping with worldwide pandemics and working with other countries to curb global warming.

“In the last eight years, we have significantly reinvented and transformed every national security agency except the Department of State,” said Philip D. Zelikow, who served as counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. “Our core Foreign Service officers and aid officers are not large enough to play the role that’s been cast for them, nor do we have the training establishment to prepare them for their roles.”

Speculation swirled yesterday that President-elect Barack Obama might be ready to offer the secretary of state post to an instantly recognizable star, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). But other contenders apparently remain in the mix, including Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee; New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson; and retiring GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel (Neb.). And after watching a administration whose tenure was marked by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the world appears ready for the nation’s new top diplomat — whomever it may be — to lead the reinvigorated diplomacy Obama has pledged to deliver.

“The next president and the next secretary come into office at a time when our economy is in recession, our military is tied down and our reputation is tarnished,” said Richard N. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations. “Diplomatic tools are arguably the one set of instruments that are available. It’s a natural moment for American diplomacy.”

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Voter Turnout Same or A Little More than ’04

November 7, 2008

 A new report from American University’s Center for the Study of the American Electorate concludes that voter turnout in Tuesday’s election was the same in percentage terms as it was four years ago — or at most has risen by less than 1 percent.

By Martina Stewart
The report released Thursday estimates that between 126.5 and 128.5 million Americans cast ballots in the presidential election earlier this week. Those figures represent 60.7 percent or, at most, 61.7 percent of those eligible to vote in the country.

“A downturn in the number and percentage of Republican voters going to the polls seemed to be the primary explanation for the lower than predicted turnout,” the report said. Compared to 2004, Republican turnout declined by 1.3 percentage points to 28.7 percent, while Democratic turnout increased by 2.6 points from 28.7 percent in 2004 to 31.3 percent in 2008.

“Many people were fooled (including this student of politics although less so than many others) by this year’s increase in registration (more than 10 million added to the rolls), citizens’ willingness to stand for hours even in inclement weather to vote early, the likely rise in youth and African American voting, and the extensive grassroots organizing network of the Obama campaign into believing that turnout would be substantially higher than in 2004,” Curtis Gans, the center’s director, said in the report. “But we failed to realize that the registration increase was driven by Democratic and independent registration and that the long lines at the polls were mostly populated by Democrats.” 

Some experts also note that national turnout trends may mask higher…

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Friday News Before Elections Has Often Influenced Vote

October 31, 2008

Four years ago, Osama bin Laden released a tape the Friday before Election Day.
Sen. John Kerry is convinced it stalled his last-minute surge.

Four years before that, the big story on the Friday before the election was that George. W. Bush had been arrested for DUI in Maine as a young man. His supporters are convinced that cost him the popular vote.

Back in 1992, special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh indicted Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger for his involvement in Iran-contra the Friday before the election.
President George H.W. Bush and his team thought it cost them the election.

In each of these cases, the impact of the these last-minute surprises was more debatable than that.
But there’s no question they made some difference.

Can it happen again?

Unlikely, because of early voting. What we’re learning this week is that more than 10 percent of voters have already voted. A third will probably have voted by Election Day.

That, combined with the small number of voters who still appear undecided, and the saturation of the airwaves with campaign messages in the final weekend, mean that even a freakier Friday this time around probably won’t matter much.

–George Stephanopoulos

Nuclear Terror is Real, But Sometimes Exagerated

January 9, 2008

By Michael Levi
USA Today
Jamuary 9, 2008

Politicians love to scare the wits out of people, and nothing suits that purpose better than talking about nuclear terrorism. From President Bush warning in 2002 that the “smoking gun” might be a mushroom cloud, to John Kerry in 2004 conjuring “shadowy figures” with a “finger on a nuclear button” and Mitt Romney invoking the specter of “radical nuclear jihad last spring….

With every week seeming to bring another nuclear bombshell, the candidates have plenty of fodder. The assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto in late December has refocused attention on that fragile nuclear-armed nation. In November, a uranium smuggling operation was busted in Slovakia; barely a week later, a new intelligence report revealed that Iran had shuttered part of its nuclear program, but Tehran continued to push forward with its dangerous efforts to produce nuclear fuel. No wonder people are worried.

Given the consequence of a successful attack, we’d be fools to convert from nuclear zealots who think the sky is falling to nuclear atheists who reject the existence of a real threat.

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Spurning Criticism, Rove Puts Blame on Democrats

August 18, 2007

WACO, Tex., Aug. 18 — During the last eight years, Karl Rove has been lionized and vilified, heralded as making the unlikely election victories of President Bush possible and impugned as reaching too high from an unusually powerful White House perch.

In the eyes of his many detractors, he has helped to send the Bush presidency off track in the process.

But in an interview at an IHOP restaurant here, days after he announced his resignation as Mr. Bush’s top political adviser, Mr. Rove defiantly dismissed the rash of fresh critiques that have come his way in the last several days, blaming the Democrats for the divisive tone that has dominated Mr. Bush’s tenure and for which he has frequently taken the blame.

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