Now that Congress is back from its week-long Memorial Day recess, it’s time for the U.S. top brass to hit the road. President Barack Obama heads to the Middle East today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Honduras, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is in China and U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke promises a visit to Pakistan this week.
Closer to home, Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor starts making the rounds on Capitol Hill in advance of her confirmation hearings. Meantime, Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal faces questions at his confirmation hearing today before the Senate Armed Services Committee today. McChrystal’s nominated to be the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
This might be an opportune time for travel. The Ipsos/Reuters poll indicates global consumer confidence is stabilizing, after dropping for 18 months.
Obama’s Mideast trip is in part a fulfillment of a campaign promise to deliver a speech to the Islamic world from a major Muslim capital early in his presidency. He’ll make the speech in Cairo on Thursday, where T-shirt vendors are ready with a version that reads “Obama: New Tutankhamon of the World.” His first stop in the region will be Saudi Arabia, where the discussion is expected to focus on oil prices.
Sometimes it’s not the distance traveled but what you say when you get there. That may be true for Dick Cheney, who last month emerged from his undisclosed location for a high-profile confrontation with Obama — they weren’t in the same room but Cheney started talking moments after Obama finished — over how to handle the threat of terrorism and its aftermath. The former vice president went to the National Press Club last night to offer support for gay marriage, regulated on a state-by-state basis. He has done this before, but doing it now puts him to the left of Obama, who favors civil unions for gay couples.