Tales from the Trail

2012 Election? In hot summer, it’s leaving Americans cold

A long spell of brutally hot weather is not the only thing making Americans cranky this summer.

With four months still to go before the presidential election on Nov. 6, Americans seem to be experiencing the 2012 campaign more like studying for a big math test than watching an exciting neck-and-neck horse race, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. More Republicans in particular are bored with the campaign.

The poll 0f 2,013 adults conducted June 7-17 found that most Americans find the presidential election campaign between Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney to be important and informative – but also exhausting, annoying, too negative, too long and dull.

More Republicans in particular find the campaign boring, and they were far more likely to feel so in June than in March, before Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, locked up their party’s presidential nomination.

In contrast, more Democrats are finding the campaign interesting now than in March, although comparable numbers of Democrats and Republicans say the contest has been too long and too negative. 

The Rich and Taxes – Clinton’s lament

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took what appeared to be a coded swipe at Republican refusals to consider raising taxes in U.S. debt limit talks, saying on Tuesday that all leaders must make hard decisions to put their countries on the right track.

Clinton, a Democratic candidate for president in 2008 but now “out of politics” as top diplomat for her one-time rival President Barack Obama,  sounded pointedly political as she recounted a meeting with an unnamed president facing serious fiscal challenges.

“Often times leaders are struggling to get the political support they need to make the hard decisions,” Clinton said at meeting on government transparency at the State Department.

“Deceased” bin Laden opens up slot on FBI’s 10 most wanted list

The FBI’s list of “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” has a new opening now that Osama bin Laden is dead.

The bureau wasted no time at all slapping the word “Deceased” in big white letters on a red background at the bottom of his photograph less than 12 hours after President Barack Obama announced to the world during a dramatic late-night statement.

The al Qaeda leader, killed in a U.S. helicopter raid on a mansion compound near the Pakistani capital Islamabad, was among those on the “Most Wanted Terrorists” list when then-President George W. Bush went to FBI headquarters for its unveiling after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.

Washington Extra – Changing hats

The national security musical chairs was made official today by President Barack Obama.

On stage was a daisy-chain of Washington insiders who have worn many hats over the years and criss-crossed different administrations. They all report to Commander-in-Chief Obama, who by comparison appeared a relative newcomer.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a former senator and first lady, was there to welcome back into the fold Ryan Crocker, who was chosen to be ambassador to Afghanistan.

Clinton doesn’t want Iran taking ‘one iota of credit’ for Mideast revolutions

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says when it comes to the pro-democracy movements sweeping through the Middle East give credit where credit is due. And that means not to Iran.

The United States has long been at loggerheads with Iran over its nuclear program — the West suspects Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons, Iran says it is trying to provide energy for its people. USA/

Now the United States, which sees Iran as a major threat to the region,  is also suspicious that Tehran is trying to capitalize on the Middle East revolutions.

Obama defends Libya policy during hectic New York day

President Barack Obama followed up his speech to the nation defending his Libya policy on Monday night with a whirlwind visit to New York City. He explained the policy in three network news  interviews  (ABC, NBC, CBS)  — at the city’s famed Museum of Natural History.

Then he made a quick visit to a kids’ science fair, joking to the high school students that they are smarter than he is, before dedicating the new Ronald H. Brown U.S. Mission to the United Nations building.bill_barack

There his Libya strategy was applauded by a roomful of diplomats and endorsed by a Democratic predecessor, ex-President Bill Clinton, the husband of his secretary of state.

Washington Extra – Consequential choice

Truth or Consequences?

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s message on Libya’s ceasefire declaration was basically: she’ll believe it when she sees it.

“We are going to be not responsive or impressed by words. We would have to see actions on the ground. And that is not yet at all clear,” she said. USA

President Barack Obama put it in starker terms: “Muammar Gaddafi has a choice.”

Washington Extra – Say it ain’t so

The White House says it knows that just telling Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to go, doesn’t make it so.

LIBYA-GADDAFI/SONGaddafi “has clearly shown that he doesn’t intend to leave just because we said so,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

The head of intelligence told it like it is, Carney said. “Director (James) Clapper stated what is true, that Colonel Gaddafi is hunkering down, we all know that.”

Washington Extra – Women of power

Were the cosmic pranksters having a laugh when the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day happened to fall on the same date as Fat Tuesday?

Washington showed off its woman power. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard expressed their delight at meeting on such an auspicious day. USA/

Britain’s former first lady Cherie Blair was also at the State Department for the 2011 International Women of Courage Awards ceremony.

Washington Extra – Oil up

How high is it? A 2-1/2 year high.

How high can it go? No one knows.

BUSINESS/SUMMERYEnergy Secretary Steven Chu expressed what is on many minds – that the oil price jump can hurt the economy. “We have a very delicate recovery going on and an increase in prices will make that vulnerable.”

Even with all options on the table, U.S. officials expressed great caution about imposing no-fly zones over Libya. “I think we are a long way from making that decision,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

Some Republicans saw the oil price scare as an opportunity to push again for expanding off-shore oil drilling. “To end this dangerous over-reliance on oil imports, we must find more domestic resources, improve our efficiency and improve international cooperation,” Senator Dick Lugar said.