Laura Bush’s new book has a picture of Dubya sitting across the table (maybe at Camp David) from Putin and raising his arms. According to Mrs. Bush, he was telling Putin to lift weights. Evidently, Putin took the advice leading to his current penchant for publishing odd he-man, calendar-like photos of himself that Rachel Maddow never fails to find. Despite his obviously enhanced strength, Hillary Clinton, who does not lift weights as far as we know, managed to wrangle an unscheduled audience out of him when she was in Russia in March.
But here is just the sort of thing that makes you want to bang your head against the wall, except that it’s your head, so that is not a good idea. According to this Washington Post article By John B. Bellinger III, Without White House muscle, treaties left in limbo, the White House is racking up a really lousy record for pushing ratification of treaties.
Despite the presence of 59 Democrats, the Senate has approved only one treaty (a tax agreement with France) during the 112th Congress.
Even if the Senate approves START and several other bilateral tax conventions this year, the Obama administration will have presided over Senate approval of the smallest number of treaties during a two-year Congress in more than 50 years.
This is my issue. I spend every spare moment there is in my life, following and logging the tenure of one highly competent, super-diligent (not to mention bright-eyed, brilliant, cheerful, and adorable) Hillary Rodham Clinton at the State Department. If I could do that for a living , I would be a very happy camper. Unfortunately, I also need to hold down a full-time-plus job, but, trust me, I know what Hillary Clinton is up to. In a nutshell, she spends a great deal of time in the air, lands in exotic places, participates in countless summits, conferences, and a huge number of bilaterals, in addition to her signature outreaches to the general population everywhere she goes. So when I see that the White House is doing the worst job in half a century of supporting the tireless work of my Secretary of State, I am NOT a happy camper. I have witnessed this before.
In 2000, my Governor, Christine Todd Whitman (with whom I was not enchanted as Governor) was appointed by the Bush White House head of the EPA. She accepted, and was nice enough not only to present the President with his current best friend (whom I miss) that adorable little guy named Barney, but she also introduced him to the breeder from whom Dubya later purchased Ms. Beasley who is Laura Bush’s current BFF. This appointment set in motion, in the state of N.J. a remarkable effect. In Whitman’s absence, we had an Acting Governor (having no Lieutentant Governor at the time, the N.J. provision was that the President of the Senate acted as Governor). DiFrancesco was Acting Governor on 9/11, and he managed the situation very well, but the GOP in N.J. failed to back him in the next gubernatorial race. Jim McGreevy, who later became famous as a Gay American, was elected and lasted about two years until he announced his orientation and again we had a quite competent Acting Governor Codey. Fast forward two years and we elected Corzine who neglected to wear his seatbelt, launching Codey back into the State House, and now we are learning to live with another Christie, but this time it is his last name. That’s N.J. for ya!
Here’s the point. Christie Whitman would not have been Governor ad infinitum (thank heavens), but, having been drafted, she accepted and tried to serve. But the White House (HER ADMINISTRATION!) cut her off at the knees and she lasted only two-and-a -half years at the post. I am not saying N.J. would not have gone through these biennial transitions had she not accepted the EPA post, that could have happened anyway. Even though I was not a fan or supporter, I was insulted by the way her White House treated her. She gave that post an honest try, and they blocked her at every pass.
Similarly, if what Bellinger is saying in WaPo is true, I am insulted and angered for Hillary Clinton, for me (virtually shadowing her), and for the American people for whom this SOS works so hard. What? These treaties she is hammering out are NOT receiving White House support? You mean that in addition to being weak against BP in the Gulf Gusher situation, the White House is feeble in supporting treaties the SOS is bringing home? It is the gusher that needs capping, not the treaties!
Wow! I am reaching the point. It will not be long! That New START had better be supported and ratified, Hillary and Lavrov worked very hard to get that written. But further, what about the other treaties? I know my Hillary, and I can tell you she is like a little cobbler hammering these agreements out behind closed doors. The White House had better get behind her! I am looking at my watch.
(Seriously, she is working very hard. I love her too much to watch her keep driving herself the way she does if they are not going to support her. Hillary, let’s set a deadline. One more year. If they do not put some muscle behind you, resign and run. Please! PLEASE!!! WE’RE ALL READY FOR YOU!)
UPDATE: PCFS sent me this article which complements the WaPo one.
“First, let me underscore President Obama’s and my commitment to the Free Trade Agreement,” she told RCN Television. “We are going to continue to work to obtain the votes in the Congress to be able to pass it. We think it’s strongly in the interests of both Colombia and the United States. And I return very invigorated … to begin a very intensive effort to try to obtain the votes to get the Free Trade Agreement finally ratified.”
She also made an interesting point unofficially. To demonstrate that Colombia’s cities are now safe, she unexpectedly met up with her husband in the sleek northern half of the capital for cappuccinos and then a steak dinner, a move that delighted Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, who explained that it showed how his capital has been transformed over eight years from a violent hellhole into a perfectly normal city where anyone can go out to dinner.
Both deeds were the right things to say and do, given the failure of the White House and its Democratic congressional allies to pass the U.S.-Colombia free trade pact.
But this won’t happen with even the best of just words — someone needs to be there in Congress making the effort to bring in the votes. Hillary Clinton, by her statement above, showed she knows this, but Obama doesn’t seem to realize that this is what it takes and has always taken to get a treaty to pass. He still hasn’t gone to bat for this pact.
If Obama can’t do it, maybe this is a task he could ask the former president to take on. The Man from Hope could play a powerful role in getting the Colombia treaty moving in Congress if he were asked, and given his interest in the country, it’s a mission he might be likely to accept.
Does Obama actually, like DO anything? Besides look for ass to kick? Oh, hey, why not kick some Congressional ass and get some treaties ratified? Nah! If he does ask Bill Clinton to do this, it will not be the “brilliant move” the author here conditionally accords Obama. It will be the desperate act of a completely ineffectual head of state. I will not use the term “leader” since daily he proves he is not one. Pathetic!
(Thanks for the article, pcfs!)
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