Tales from the Trail

Making peace with the MILF

Grappling with the alphabet stew of world insurgencies can have its pitfalls.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discovered as much Friday as she fielded questions about the Moro Islamic Liberation Front during a town hall-style gathering in Manila.
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MILF has the same acronym as an obscene phrase that gained currency in recent years. It was used in a Saturday Night Live political sketch last year in which characters playing Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton criticized sexism in the U.S. election campaign.

Questioned repeatedly about peace efforts with the MILF in the southern Philippines, Clinton struggled with how to speak the acronym.

“I’m encouraged by what I hear about the progress in the peace efforts that are going on between the government and MILF,” Clinton said, pronouncing it like a word — the same way as the acronym for the obscene phrase.

Then she switched and adopted the local usage — saying the letters individually.

Clinton said the time seemed ripe for a peace deal with the MILF, which has been fighting the Manila government for nearly 30 years.

Clinton hopes for success where his effort failed

Former President Bill Clinton is clearly hoping that Congress succeeds this time around where his administration failed 15 years ago.

clintonAnd perfection is not required — just get healthcare reform done. That was Clinton’s message to Senate Democrats who are now behind the steering wheel in trying to move legislation forward.

Clinton’s own effort to overhaul the healthcare system in 1994 fizzled long before reaching this far — the House of Representatives approved its version of a bill last weekend.

The First Draft: Democrats turn to Clinton in Senate healthcare push

Former President Bill Clinton is due to visit Capitol Hill today to talk healthcare reform with Senate Democrats and their independent allies. PHILANTHROPY-CLINTON/

The meeting’s important because Democrats have yet to find the 60 votes they need to stop Senate Republicans from blocking President Barack Obama’s signature domestic issue. House Democrats got their end of the job done over the weekend by passing landmark legislation.

Clinton’s presidency was overshadowed by his own failed bid to reform the healthcare system in the 1990s. But NBC said he could help sway Democrats wavering in the current debate, including Sen. Blanche Lincoln of his home state, Arkansas. CONGRESS BUDGET

How Hillary got the nod

Hillary Clinton was walking with her husband Bill in a nature preserve near their home in New York when the cellphone in his pocket started ringing. RUSSIA-CLINTON/

It was five or six days after the November election that Barack Obama won after defeating her for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Instead of turning the phone off while strolling through nature, Clinton’s husband, the former president, answered it.

Clinton, Gingrich, Lott share political war stories and laughs

While members of the U.S. Congress angrily debated bogged-down efforts at healthcare reform, three one-time adversaries shared old stories, pats on the back and laughs.

Former Democratic President Bill Clinton, ex-Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Senate Republican Leader Trent got together this week for the unveiling of Lott’s official Senate portrait.

“I’m still wondering why I’m here,” Clinton said, drawing chuckles and applause from a packed crowd on Capitol Hill of a few hundred people, including past and present congressional power brokers.

Barack and Bill lunching, can burgers be far away?

So we hear that current President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton are going to do lunch today.

OBAMA/It will follow Obama’s big financial regulation speech being delivered to Wall Street on the anniversary of the Lehman Brothers collapse.

Wondering how much appetite they’re going to have after a speech on financial collapse and during an almost inevitable discussion about healthcare reform — the issue that turned into this past summer’s discontent.

The First Draft: Deja vu for Obama, Congress, healthcare?

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President Barack Obama heads for Capitol Hill tomorrow to address a joint session of Congress on one of the most pressing issues of the day, healthcare reform. For those with middling-to-long memories of Washington, this may have a familiar ring. Another Democratic president argued for healthcare reform on another September day some 16 years ago, and somehow healthcare remains unreformed.

rtr1oqi_compBack then, it was President Bill Clinton, who spoke to Congress on September 22, 1993. That speech was full of sounding phrases like “healthcare that can never be taken away” and “security, simplicity and savings.” It also paid tribute to contributions from then-first lady and now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose efforts to change U.S. healthcare went down to defeat.

Obama tried out some sounding phrases of his own on Labor Day in Cincinnati, calling on Congress to pass healthcare legislation this year.

The First Draft: searching for peace

President Barack Obama meets with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at the White House around 11 a.m. in the long-running quest for Middle East peace that has bedeviled American presidents for decades.

Mubarak is already out with his talking points, saying in media interviews that Arab states would recognize and normalize ties with Israel only after an overall Middle East peace deal is achieved, and not before. USA/

Obama then turns to Clinton vs. Clinton. He meets Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at 1:30 p.m. about her Africa trip, and then moves on to a meeting with Bill Clinton, the former president and current husband to the secretary of state, about his trip to North Korea.

In Bill-Hillary popularity contest, Bill wins

Hillary Clinton may be Secretary of State, but her husband Bill still wins the popularity contest.

The former president grabbed the headlines recently on what could be considered her diplomatic turf by going to North Korea and securing the release of two American reporters.

And then he was off to Las Vegas to celebrate his upcoming 63rd birthday with pals at a steak house where an 8 ounce goes for $240 — and that’s without a baked potato or veggies — according to the New York Times.

The First Draft: Hillary Clinton’s bad day

CONGO-DEMOCRATIC/CLINTON-OUTBURSTSome days, you really have to feel for Hillary Clinton. And this could be one of those days.

Secretary of State Clinton’s bad day started Monday in Kinshasa, in the middle of a grueling African trip, when a translator goofed and made it sound as if a questioner wanted to know what Clinton’s husband Bill thought of a particular issue. While on this tour, she’d already had to comment on the former president’s humanitarian mission to free to U.S. journalists from North Korea, and basically, she’d had about enough.

Read a just-the-facts Reuters story on what happened here and watch the video below.