Tales from the Trail

I’m not forcing Bill to eat tofu and I don’t want to be VP- Hillary

Is  she forcing her husband to eat tofu? No.

Did Bill cry at the wedding? Not really.

Does she want to be vice president? Absolutely not.

On Wednesday, Hillary Clinton graciously handled softball questions about her husband’s diet and her daughter’s wedding at Fortune magazine’s  “Most Powerful Women” conference — before moving on to quash persistent rumors that she  might be interested in the vice presidential slot in a second-term Obama administration.

Ann Moore, the chairman of Time Inc., launched a Q+A session at the summit of 400 leading women in politics, business and the arts with an assessment of Bill Clinton’s successful drive to slim down ahead of his daughter Chelsea’s wedding in July.

“He looked so trim, and he said that’s because you and Chelsea were forcing him to eat tofu!”  Moore said.

Clinton denied this, but did say that the former president — who has a history of heart problems — had sworn off red meat as part of an effort to get healthy.

“He,  in response to our urging, really embarked on what became a very successful diet but it also was good for his heart,” Clinton said. “There’s so much evidence now that you can lower your cholesterol, you can actually reverse damage to your arteries by eating plant based meals. So he’s been off of red meat,” Clinton said.

Bill Clinton emerges as leading U.S. political favorite — poll

OBAMA/

CLINTON/Nearly a decade after his presidency ended in scandal and disgrace, Bill Clinton has emerged as the most popular figure in the U.S. political firmament, according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll.   Except he’s not running for office.

Fifty-five percent of the 1,000 adults who responded to the survey reported having positive feelings about the Arkansas Democrat, vs. only 23 percent who harbored negative feelings. (When he left office in early 2001, his ratings were 34 percent positive and 52 percent negative.)RACING/

The poll, which has a 3.1 percentage point margin of error, comes at a time when many voters are angry about the country’s economic straits, including high unemployement and an exploding fiscal deficit. Clinton’s two-term presidency was marked not only by impeachment and the Monica Lewinsky scandal but also by buoyant growth and a balanced budget.

Obama joins call-in to back his pick in Colorado primary

President Barack Obama on Tuesday urged people in Colorado to support his pick to run for U.S. Senate in their state, jumping into a close Democratic  primary race in which the other  candidate is  backed by former President Bill Clinton.obama_bennet

Obama has put his weight behind current Colorado Senator Michael Bennet, who was appointed to take over the seat vacated by Ken Salazar, whom Obama selected to be secretary of the Interior at the beginning of his term.

“He’s been a breath of fresh air in a town with a lot of hot air,” Obama told a telephone conference call with Bennet and listeners, who quizzed the freshman Senator about the attack ads he has endured. Obama said this was par for the course in politics.

Even Obama didn’t make the cut for Chelsea’s wedding

Friends of Bill and Hillary Clinton who didn’t get invited to daughter Chelsea’s wedding now have something to take the sting off.

President Barack Obama didn’t get invited either (and the mother of the bride is a member of his Cabinet).

OBAMA/Barbara Walters asked him bluntly on ABC’s “The View” whether he was invited to the wedding of the year.

Mum’s the word on Clinton family wedding

hill_chelsea“My lips are sealed… I’m under strict orders not to talk about it,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton revealed in an NBC interview.

The “it” she’s referring to is not a state secret. “It” is the upcoming wedding of Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of the secretary of state and former President Bill Clinton.

The publicity-shy Chelsea and fiance Marc Mezvinsky are getting married at the end of the month.  Plans for the wedding are a closely guarded secret. And mother is following orders — no details divulged here.

Obama seeks help, Clinton (Bill) to the rescue?

In the latest twist in the Obama-Clinton family drama, the current president has enlisted the past president to help shore up sagging confidence in his economic leadership and repair his tattered relationship with business.  OBAMA/

Barack Obama has asked Clinton to come to his meeting with business leaders today to discuss job creation and investment. That is a day after he also enlisted the help of long-time Clintonista Jack Lew to be his budget director after he presided over surpluses during Bill’s tenure.

It is quite a transformation in the Obama-Clinton relationship, from bitter foe with a dash of alpha male rivalry during the primaries (when the other Clinton was running for president), to rock solid partners in the Democratic cause.

‘If I could live another 100 years, I’d like to continue in the Senate’ – Robert Byrd

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – It was a sight that would have seemed unimaginable when Senator Robert Byrd was growing up in West Virginia.

On Friday at a memorial service for the longest-serving member of the U.S. Congress, the first black American president paid tribute to a man who in his youth had belonged to the Ku Klux Klan.

OBAMA/It was just a moment in time, but reflected the sweep of social and political change in U.S. history during the 92 years of Byrd’s life.

Bill and Hill catch Dinner in Bogota

hillU.S. Secretary of  State Hillary Clinton caught a rare dinner with her husband Bill in Bogota on Tuesday.

Where did they eat? A local steakhouse. Who paid? Unknown.

The Colombia tete-a-tete marked a rare overseas schedule intersection for the Clintons, who each spend lots of time on the road — he for his foundation, she for the State Department.bill2

Clinton told reporters in Bogota it was a chance to get together and reflect on security advances in Colombia, once a byword for political and drug-related violence.

Bill Clinton urges Obama to think young for Supreme Court

clintonWhile playwright George Bernard Shaw argued youth is wasted on the young, former President Bill Clinton on Sunday urged President Barack Obama to put youth high on the list of attributes for the next United States Supreme Court nominee.

“I’d like to see him (President Barack Obama) put someone in their late 40s or early 50s on the court and someone, you know, with a lot of energy for the job,” Clinton said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Liberal Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, one of the oldest and longest-serving justices in history, announced earlier this month he would resign. Stevens celebrates his 90th birthday on April 20.

from Afghan Journal:

Engaging the Afghan Taliban: a short history

(The niche that once held a giant Buddha, in Bamiyan. Picture by Omar Sobhani)

(The niche that once held a giant Buddha, in Bamiyan. Picture by Omar Sobhani)

For those pushing for high-level political negotiations with the Afghan Taliban to bring to an end to the eight-year war,  two U.S. scholars  in separate pieces are suggesting a walk through recent history  The United States has gone down the path of dialogue with the group before and suffered for it, believing against its own better judgement in the Taliban's promises until it ended up with the September 11, 2001 attacks, says  Michael Rubin from the American Enterprise Institute in this article in Commentary.

Rubin, who is completing a history of U.S. engagement with rogue regimes, says unclassified U.S. State Department documents show that America opened talks with the Taliban soon after the group  emerged as a powerful force in Kandahar in 1994 and well over a year before they took over Kabul. From then on it was a story of   diplomats doing everything possible to remain engaged with the Taliban in the hope it would modify their  behaviour, and that they would be persuaded to expel Osama bin Laden who had  by then relocated from Sudan.  The Taliban, on the other hand, in their meetings with U.S. diplomats, would stonewall on terrorism  but would also dangle just enough hope to keep the officials calling and forestall punitive strategies.

Over a five year period of engagement, the United States gained little while the Taliban grew even more radicalised and the threat from al Qaeda more serious. Rubin details how State Department officials were repeatedly misled by Taliban officials harbouring bin Laden even after two U.S. embassies were attacked in Africa in  1998.  They even told them they would protect the Buddha statues in Bamiyan which were subsequently destroyed.