Tales from the Trail

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.

Last year it sometimes seemed as though Obama was determined to be everything Clinton wasn’t as a president, and, even though he never publicly admitted it, was certainly determined to learn from Clinton’s mistakes on healthcare.

Now he seems to want to draw some positive lessons from the Clinton years, even adopting a bit of Clintonomics to avoid being seen as an anti-business liberal.

The mystery of the homesick Iranian nuclear scientist

The facts are few: Shahram Amiri, an Iranian nuclear scientist, disappeared in June 2009 during a pilgrimage to Mecca. He turned up this week at the Iranian interests section in the Pakistani Embassy in Washington wanting to go home.

What happened during the year inbetween is quite murky and even a timeline of what is publicly known requires much reading between the lines and connecting circumstantial dots.

ABC News reported in March that Amiri had defected to the United States. That would be quite a catch.

Clinton spokesman stands by her words in immigration fracas

OBAMA/Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s suggestion that the U.S. government would sue to block Arizona’s tough new immigration law raised some eyebrows around town, not to mention in Arizona.

But at the State Department, Clinton’s press people have had little to say — except that “her words speak for themselves.”

And they have said that over and over again.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner was grilled about Clinton’s comments in an interview with an Ecuadoran television station on a trip to Latin America last week.

We’ve built it…will they come?

OBAMA-ASIA/At least she didn’t have to build it herself.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday hailed the successful completion of the U.S. Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo — the whiz-bang coming-out party for the financial heart of an up-and-coming economic superpower.

It was, by all accounts, a U.S. building that almost didn’t get built, and Clinton said she was gratified that U.S. businesses stepped up to fund the $61 million pavilion — a move made necessary by U.S. laws which forbid the spending of public money on such showpieces.

“I vowed last year that I would personally build the pavilion if I had to, so we could be part of that Expo. Thankfully I did not because all of you worked together to make this a great success,” Clinton said at a special meeting in the State Department marking the official opening of the Shanghai extravaganza.

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.

Obama to World Cup? Well, if U.S. team reaches the finals….

BASEBALL/

President Barack Obama has said he might make the trip to this summer’s soccer World Cup in South Africa — but won’t commit unless the U.S. team reaches the finals, according to South Africa’s foreign minister.

Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, at the State Department to formally launch the new U.S.-South Africa “strategic dialogue” agreement, said Obama had indicated he might be lured to the World Cup, which begins on June 11 and holds its final at Soccer City in Johannesburg on July 11.

“I remember him saying that he would — maybe  — consider coming if the American team goes to the quarter finals, might come if they reach the semi-finals and WILL come if they are to the finals,” Nkoana-Mashabane said at the signing ceremony, earning a laugh from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton for Justice?

NUCLEAR-SUMMIT/Would Secretary of State Hillary Clinton trade her globetrotting ways for the distinguished black robe of a Supreme Court Justice?

The Washington parlor game is in full swing over who President Barack Obama will pick to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.

In the middle of it all, Clinton’s name was very publicly, and quite intriguingly, thrown into the mix this morning  — by a Republican.

No matter how you slice it, Obama’s on a roll

NCAA/What does he do for an encore?

President Barack Obama started the week with a victorious end to the healthcare angst. And ended it with a win on START.

For a president who entered his second year with a Nobel Peace Prize but scrounging for a mega-accomplishment to put in the Democrats’ corner in an election year, this week handed him a pair of major victories.

But there is still plenty of time for things to go awry before November — think Kansas in the NCAA basketball tournament. Or for things to go even better than hoped — think Butler.

Obama ready to lend Rahm to Russia

OBAMA/President Barack Obama has a potent weapon in his arsenal if his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev has any concerns about selling a new nuclear arms reduction treaty to the parliament in Moscow — his famously assertive White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

“Just as we have to go to our Congress, President Medvedev has to go to the Duma. And I think President Obama has said that he would send Rahm Emanuel to Moscow,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unexpectedly informed reporters during a White House briefing on the new treaty.

Emanuel’s muscular powers of persuasion are credited with holding U.S. lawmakers in line for the recent approval of the president’s historic healthcare reform, and he was also recently accused by a former colleague of picking an argument while stark-naked in a congressional shower.

When seen from Capitol Hill, Jerusalem looks a bit different

ISRAEL-USA/What’s the U.S. policy toward Israel? It may depend on which branch of government you ask.

On Capitol Hill, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu got a warm reception during his Washington visit this week. Eric Cantor, the only Jewish Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, says Congress is on “a different page” than the Obama administration over Jewish settlements in Jerusalem and the overall U.S. relationship with Israel.

Netanyahu got a less obviously effusive welcome from the Obama administration. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met him at a hotel on Monday and his White House meeting with the president on Tuesday took place behind closed doors, without photographers present.