Back in the early days of the personal computer, there was a highly successful international spy-chasing game named "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" Several recent headlines have made me ask "Where in the World is Hillary Clinton?"
First, as the health care debate geared up President Obama found it prudent to send Joe Biden off to Georgia (the ex-Soviet state, that is) and the Ukraine where he could do little harm. So, on the heels of a diplomatic initiative by President Obama and Hillary Clinton to "open a new era of mutual respect and improved relations" with Russia, Biden offered the following "The reality is, the Russians are where they are. They have a shrinking population base, they have a withering economy, they have a banking sector and structure that is not likely to be able to withstand the next 15 years. They're in a situation where the world is changing before them and they're clinging to something in the past that is not sustainable." Understandably, the Kremlin was moved to ask "Who is shaping U.S. foreign policy?" Where in the world is Hillary Clinton?
Next, Secretary of Defense Gates is sent off to assure Israel that Obama's mild acceptance of Iran's crackdown on internal democratic opposition and apparent acceptance of continuing nuclear aspirations should not be taken as a concern to Israel. So we have the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff saying that any strike by Israel against Iran's nuclear facilities would be “profoundly destabilizing”, while Joe Biden is saying that the United States “cannot dictate” to Israel. Where in the World is Hillary Clinton?
Third, we have Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner joining Obama on the series of G-20, G-8, and G-2 discussions about the international financial crisis, and providing assurances about our fiscal responsibility as part of the ongoing discussion about China's proposal for a new global currency to replace the dollar. While Treasury must be involved in these discussions, it is only part of our China agenda, and Hillary has recently muscled in to meetings with Chinese leaders to add North Korea's nuclear program to the agenda.
In American history it is not unknown for a president to tap a political rival as our chief foreign emissary, and in the age before the telegraph it was a quite effective technique. Perhaps Peggy Noonan was correct that Hillary "got rolled" when she agreed to become Obama's Secretary of State, and he then appointed special emissaries to handle Afghanistan/Pakistan (Holbrooke) , and the Middle East (Mitchell). But then, perhaps there is some significance to the fact that she maintains a campaign staff of eight and is adding to a $3,000,000 campaign war chest.
For those of you concerned about the depth of thought and attention to detail exhibited by our Congressional leaders, this week's You Tube is a brief comment by John Conyers, the chair of the House Finance Committee. Six months to name a dog; a few weeks to overhaul health care.
bill bowen - 7/31/2009