Tales from the Trail

Clinton finds ‘Hillary fans and fanatics’ in Philippines

If you’re a hard-traveling foreign secretary and need a place to recharge your batteries after a week of diplomacy, the Philippines seems to be the place to go.

PHILIPPINESU.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton got an enthusiastic welcome on arrival in the capital Manila Thursday after a week of visits that included stops in Berlin and Singapore.

Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo called her “the most popular foreign secretary the world over.”

“The Filipinos love her,” he told a news conference. “I told her that there are Hillary fans and fanatics here.”

To demonstrate the point, she was greeted by a couple thousand cheering school students when she visited Malanday High School in suburban Marikina.

Clinton and the Berlin Wall domino

When the Berlin Wall topples for a second time Monday, more may be laid bare than the inherent weakness of a political system.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the wall, Berliners have erected a wall of giant painted dominoes.

During the evening’s festivities the domino wall will be toppled along several blocks near Brandenburg Gate.

Clinton pushes for cooperation on confronting extremism

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used an awards ceremony Sunday in Berlin to push European allies for greater cooperation in confronting extremism, nuclear proliferation and other challenges of the 21st century.

Her remarks came as thousands of people GERMANY/WALLcrowded into the city on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

“We should look to the examples of the generations who brought us successfully through the 20th century and once again together chart a clear and common course to safeguard our people and our planet, defeat violent extremists and prevent nuclear proliferation,” Clinton said.

The First Draft: Gripes and Goblins

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton griping about Pakistan while in Pakistan. PAKISTAN USA/

She says it was “hard to believe” that no one in Pakistan’s government knew where al Qaeda leaders were hiding. She talked about her tough talk in a series of morning television interviews, and said on CNN “trust is a two-way street.”

Top military brass coming over to the White House this afternoon. President Barack Obama meets with the military Joint Chiefs of Staff on Afghanistan and Pakistan this afternoon in the Situation Room (so you know it’s important).

Vice President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Robert Gates are also down to attend the meeting where they are all expected to go over recommendations on troop strength and strategy.

The First Draft: Obama Decision Time On Afghanistan?

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.

He’ll make remarks today at a Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony, and could address the matter there. Plenty of other topics are on the front burner, though, including healthcare reform and overhauling financial regulation, to name just two.

Senator John McCain, Obama’s Republican presidential rival in 2008, said the decision on sending more troops to Afghanistan should come soon. McCain told CBS television’s “Early Show”: “Overwhelmingly the military establishment and those who have had the experience of our success in Iraq know that the people there don’t want the Taliban back … and they want an environment of security. And we watch this situation continue to deteriorate while this long protracted process of decision-making goes on. We’re not operating in a vacuum. The president of the United States needs to make this decision and soon. Our allies are nervous and our military leadership is becoming frustrated.”

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.

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

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

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went to great lengths on Sunday to reassure Britons and their political leaders that the “special relationship” between the two allies is strong and intact.

Exhibit A: at a news conference with Foreign Secretary David Miliband, Clinton opened her remarks by stressing their strong relations.

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

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.”

Clinton had no comment when newscaster Ann Curry on  NBC’s “Today” program asked whether she should be more visible on such hot-button issues as Iran and Afghanistan. But she responded fully when asked about concerns that the “highest-ranking woman in the United States needs to fight against being marginalized.”

“I find it absurd, I find it beyond any realistic assessment of what I’m doing every day,” Clinton said. “I believe in delegating power. I’m not one of those people who feels like I have to have my face in the front of the newspaper or on the TV every moment of the day. It would be irresponsible and negligent were I to say, ‘Oh no, everything must come to me!’”

The First Draft: David Letterman and the Dalai Lama

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.

Afghanistan is expected to be front and center when President Barack Obama briefs congressional leaders about his Afghan strategy.

Pakistan‘s foreign minister has a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In his own words, former Bush speechwriter blabs

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.”

In excerpts of his book “Speech-Less” appearing in the October issue of GQ magazine, out on newsstands Sept. 22, Latimer says Bush had something unflattering to say about the leaders of the pack running to win the White House in last year’s election. OBAMA/

(We obtained, and more importantly, read all the excerpts to be published in GQ. There is some discussion about the plan to boost the economy which we leave you to read in the magazine or book).