Tales from the Trail

The First Draft: Obama Decision Time On Afghanistan?

October 28, 2009

AFGHANISTAN/The latest violence in Afghanistan may raise the drumbeat in Washington for a decision from President Barack Obama on whether to send more U.S. forces.

How Hillary got the nod

October 14, 2009

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/

Well isn’t that special! Clinton reassures Britain on its U.S. relationship

October 12, 2009


It turns out the relationship between the United States and Britain is very special.

The First Draft: Hillary Clinton marginalized? If you have to ask…

October 12, 2009

IRISH/Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spent the weekend in Switzerland and Ireland, but landed on the morning talk shows on Monday, fending off questions about whether she has been marginalized in the Obama administration. It’s not considered a good sign when people start asking this question in Washington, because the implication is that the answer is “yes.”

The First Draft: David Letterman and the Dalai Lama

October 6, 2009

CANADA/This is one of those Washington days that seems to defy a theme. Consider:

Iran is the topic at the Senate Banking Committee, where officials from the State and Treasury departments are set to testify on economic sanctions against Tehran.

In his own words, former Bush speechwriter blabs

September 15, 2009

Matt Latimer, who used to make a living writing speeches for former President George W. Bush, has decided to let loose in a book under his own name that describes the White House as more like the TV show “The Office” and less like “The West Wing.”

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

September 8, 2009


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.

Zelaya struggles to convince U.S. his ouster was military coup

September 3, 2009

Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya is having a hard time convincing the Obama administration he was deposed by a military coup.
Zelaya argues that being awakened at 5 a.m. by soldiers in your presidential palace, flown to another country by hooded and armed military guards and deposited on the tarmac in your pajamas pretty much fits the description of a military coup.
The Obama administration agrees the scenario is a coup but maybe not a military coup since the legislative and judicial branches were involved as well.
The Honduran president met Thursday with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to prod her on the issue.
He was rewarded with a pledge to cancel $30 million in aid to the de facto government, but did not get a formal military coup declaration. Zelaya said the U.S. decision was nonetheless a sign the region is unified against the coup government.
While he awaits his restoration, Zelaya speaks out frequently on the situation in his country. He’s done the speech so often it has become a routine, delivered with a dry sense of humor.
“In Honduras, on the 28th of June, barely two months ago, a cruel coup d’etat took place,” he told a George Washington University audience Wednesday.
It was a poorly managed affair, Zelaya said, citing a Spanish constitutional law expert who labeled it “anti-aesthetic.”
“I can say that it was obscene and not aesthetic to pull out a president at 5 a.m., raiding his residence, shooting guns,” Zelaya said, adding that soldiers pumped 150 bullets into a metal door at the house.
He had his cell phone as he left his room, and made an effort to call his wife to let her know.
“When they saw my cellular, they didn’t want me to make a call to let the people know perhaps,” he said. “They surrounded me, 10 military men with their rifles.

Group accuses U.S. Kabul embassy guards of misconduct

September 2, 2009

Nearly naked, drunken guys dancing around a bonfire and engaging in lewd conduct. And there are pictures and videos. No it’s not a frat party gone wild.  It’s downtime for some private security contractors hired to protect the U.S. embassy in Kabul,  according to the nonpartisan Project on Government Oversight.

The First Draft: searching for peace

August 18, 2009

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.