Tales from the Trail

The First Draft: Hillary Clinton’s bad day

CONGO-DEMOCRATIC/CLINTON-OUTBURSTSome days, you really have to feel for Hillary Clinton. And this could be one of those days.

Secretary of State Clinton’s bad day started Monday in Kinshasa, in the middle of a grueling African trip, when a translator goofed and made it sound as if a questioner wanted to know what Clinton’s husband Bill thought of a particular issue. While on this tour, she’d already had to comment on the former president’s humanitarian mission to free to U.S. journalists from North Korea, and basically, she’d had about enough.

Read a just-the-facts Reuters story on what happened here and watch the video below.

But because the Clintons are the Clintons, with a long history in the public eye, that was hardly the end of it. Tuesday morning television — CNN, ABC, NBC, others — replayed the video of Hillary Clinton snapping at the student questioner: “You want me to tell you what my husband thinks? If you want my opinion, I will tell you my opinion, I am not going to be channeling my husband.” It was a five-star video on YouTube.

Back at the State Department, Assistant Secretary P.J. Crowley acknowledged that the question, however poorly it was translated — the questioner wanted to know what President Barack Obama thought, not former President Clinton — struck a nerve. Crowley told CNN that her reaction had to be taken in the context of her African trip, where she has worked to draw attention to the plight of women who are victims of rape as a weapon of war in Congo.

The First Draft: Reviews flood in after Obama’s Cairo speech

OBAMA-EGYPT/He’s been preparing for this moment since long before he came to the White House, so President Barack Obama might wonder how his Cairo speech to the Muslim world went over. He wouldn’t have to wait long — within minutes after he ended his address, the reviews started flooding in.

The Washington Post said Obama did well, but basically, talk’s cheap: “Perhaps today’s words, from the son of a Muslim, will be viewed as a welcome olive branch. But it’s still just a speech. And even stirring words can’t paper over the seemingly intractable differences in the Mideast.”

The New York Post got a bit snarky: “If world peace is attained by complimenting those on the other side into submission, he made some serious progress. Obama really buttered them up in Cairo.”

“I don’t want to screw up”, says Obama’s Iraq envoy

KOREA-NORTH/KIMSeasoned U.S. diplomat Chris Hill showed some jitters on Wednesday over being nominated as next U.S. ambassador to Iraq.

“I just don’t want to screw it up,” said Hill, in fairly undiplomatic language at a confirmation hearing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

As new U.S. ambassador, Hill would oversee the drawdown of U.S. troops.

Hill has faced some opposition as next U.S. ambassador to Iraq but he had a fairly smooth hearing on Wednesday.

Hillary on the Hill

WASHINGTON – Bill Clinton was not in the room, but his presence was certainly felt at Hillary Clinton’s long confirmation hearing on Tuesday.hillary4

As the Senate Foreign Relations Committee considered her nomination to be Barack Obama’s Secretary of State, Republicans on the  panel raised the potentially thorny subject of the former president’s charity, which has received donations from several nations including the governments of Saudi Arabia and Norway.

They questioned whether appropriate steps had been taken to avoid possible foreign policy conflicts if Sen. Clinton, of New York, is confirmed.

California, Here She Comes

Don’t look for Condoleezza Rice to get all sentimental about waving goodbye to Washington after the Bush administration leaves office on Jan. 20.

It’s no secret that the Secretary of State plans to go back to California. But will she miss life in the U.S. capital?

“No,” Rice said, laughing, in a CNN interview.

She has been a top adviser to President George W. Bush for eight years — first as national security adviser before moving to the State Department in 2005.

Bill Clinton hails Obama’s selection of secretary of state


U.S. Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton won the swift and hearty support of one former globe-trotting U.S. president: her husband, Bill Clinton. 

Just minutes after President-elect Barack Obama nominated Hillary Clinton as his top diplomat on Monday, Bill Clinton issued a statement of praise.

“As an American, I am thankful,” Bill Clinton said. “As her husband, I am deeply proud.”

Welcome to Front Row Washington: Tracking U.S. politics

WASHINGTON – With the election over, it is time to say happy trails to Reuters “Tales from the Trail” election blog and give a warm welcome to “Front Row Washington” which will provide readers a view from Reuters correspondents working the political beat around town and the country.

Reuters has a front row seat to all the action in Washington, whether in the White House, Pentagon, State Department briefing rooms or in halls of Congress. From here we will offer readers insight, analysis and behind-the-scenes stories as Democrats move into the White House and Republicans try to influence policy decisions.

We heartily thank all our readers over the last year or so who have made this blog a success and invite you to stay tuned because it will be a fun ride over the coming years.