It’s Tina Brown’s World, Hillary Clinton Just Lives In It

s-TINA-BROWN-BILL-CLINTON-HILLARY-CLINTON-largeAll the world’s a stage and Tina Brown is apparently holding the strings. Right on cue The Daily Beast editrix is responding to Hillary’s Clinton’s interview with Ann Curry earlier this week, during which Clinton touched upon the ‘invisible’ meme that plagued her this summer. Read the opener of Brown’s “Hillary and the ‘Woman Thing’” and see if you can spot what’s missing.

Hillary Clinton has spent her entire career looking bug-eyed with incredulity when an interviewer asks her whatever question she most expects at that moment. Her theatrical bemusement was more convincing than usual on Monday’s Today show, however, when Ann Curry asked what she says to people who are “concerned that you have been marginalized.” After dismissing the whole notion as “absurd,” she said: “I’m not one of these people who feels like I have to have my face in the front of the newspaper or on TV every moment of the day. I would be irresponsible and negligent were I to say, ‘Oh, no. everything must come to me.’ Now maybe that is a woman’s thing.”

Maybe that is a woman’s thing! Maybe. Maybe it’s also the Hillary meme Tina Brown, herself created this past July when she penned the is ‘Hillary is Invisible’ piece for the Daily Beast, something she neglects to mention here but was perfectly thrilled to take credit for when touting the Daily Beast’s one year traffic numbers the other week, so we know for sure it’s not a memory thing.

We’ve wondered before whether Brown hasn’t been using her Beast platform in an attempt to write the Clinton’s back onto center stage in order to plump up her prospective audience for The Clinton Chronicles Brown’s upcoming tome on the nations political power couple. But considering the Secretary of State is still answering a question put forth by Brown in a column three months, she perhaps may want to consider checking in with Tina and company to find out what they have determined her latest iteration to be. Maybe it’s a media woman’s thing.

Meanwhile looks like Tina may need a new chapter because she appears to have grown bored with Invisible HiIlary and moved on to a “tough-minded, clear and focused” Hillary who has “learned how to circumnavigate that tiresome phallic competition and acknowledged what’s different—and valuable—about her own female nature.” Also? She apparently has Bill under control. Let’s hope someone is keeping the real Hillary in the loop.

Hillary Clinton On Whether Obama ‘Deserves’ His Nobel Win: ‘I Can’t Read The Nobel Committee’s Minds’

No matter what, Hillary Clinton always seems to be answering questions regarding the powerful men around her. Not to get to MoDo on the subject, but it must get tiring. Then again, she’s not the Secretary of State for nothing. Despite plenty of humorous (and not so humorous!) speculation about both of the Clinton’s response to President Obama’s surprise Nobel Peace Prize win last Friday, Sec. of State Clinton was nothing if not diplomatic in her response to Ann Curry regarding whether she thinks Obama “deserved” to win and join the ranks of “Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa, and Nelson Mandela.” (Not to put too fine a point on it!) Though her mind-reading remark does leave a little doubtful (political) wiggle room.

“The fact that the Nobel committee, and I can’t read their minds, none of us can, but the fact they recognized that his attitude toward America’s role in the world and his willingness to challenge everyone to step up and take responsibility really restores an image and an appreciation of our country.”

Not exactly the “bonk, bonk bonk” some of us were imagining but who knows what goes on behind closed doors! Clinton however did appear to want to bonk a few heads together when Curry asked her about the rumors that Clinton is continually being marginalized. Oh yes, and she says she’s done with her presidential ambitions.

‘Why are you not more out-front on these very important issues of our time? … What do you say to the people who are concerned that you have been marginalized?’

CLINTON: ‘Ann, I find it absurd. … I believe in delegating power. You know, I’m not one of these 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. … My goal is to be a very positive force to implement the kind of changes that the president and I believe are in the best interests of our country. But that doesn’t mean that it all has to be me-me-me all the time. I like lifting people up. … I am part of the team that makes the decisions.’

CURRY: ‘Will you ever run for president again? Yes or no.’

CLINTON, laughing merrily: ‘No.’

CURRY: ‘No?’

CLINTON; ‘No. No. I mean, this is a great job. It is a 24-7 job. And I’m looking forward to retirement at some point.’

You get a stronger sense of Clinton’s (understandable) frustration on this point from watching the video.

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Obama’s National Security Advisor Demurs on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

alg_obama_dont_askOn the Sunday edition of CNN’s State of the Union, host John King recalled one of President Obama’s most overlooked campaign promises: repealing the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy of homosexuality in the military. Amid a financial crisis and the ever-raging health care debate, the issue has often been overlooked in recent months and the Obama administration is asking for patience. “Is it time now, as soon as possible, to change that policy?” King asked. “The president has an awful lot on his desk,” said National Security Advisor Jim Jones, a retired Marine Corp general.

“This is an issue he intends to take on at the appropriate time,” said Jones, indicating that the Defense Department is taking the necessary steps to “prepare.” King introduced the issue by reading from a statement by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in which he wrote to the president: “At a time when we are fighting two wars, I do not believe we can afford to discharge any qualified individual who is willing to serve our country.”

Public opinion of homosexuality has become more accepting both in the military and out in recent years, aided largely by a positive portrayal in popular media. In a post-Will & Grace world, and along with seminal films like Brokeback Mountain, we’ve seen acknowledgment and recognition rise across America. And with the tide doubtlessly changing in culture, politics seems to be a final frontier of sorts when it comes to homosexuality.

There has clearly been a cultural shift since President Clinton introduced his version of the policy over 16 years ago, but today’s Democrats are still treading lightly when speaking publicly about a change. As Obama struggles to control the terms of debate throughout his first year in office, the administration seems to be avoiding hot button issues like Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which tend to bring out passionate and emotional debate. The administration seems to be favoring media pragmatism, leaving public comments about the policy to eventually come from higher ranking official like Hillary Clinton or even the president himself.

Below is the clip of Obama advisor Jim Jones on State of the Union:

Photo via NY Daily News

Between Obama and Bill Clinton, Guess Who Else Was On TV Last Night? (Hint: It Rhymes With “Schmillary”)

Hillary on NewHour PBSYes, PBS watchers, that badly-lit official holding forth about wartime elections in Afghanistan, the McChrystal memo, and this week’s United Nations General Assembly is none other than Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, talking substantively and at length about important matters of foreign policy and national security! Whoo! Can I get a what-what?

Oh, and also, Barack Obama was on Letterman and Bill Clinton was on the Daily Show.

No disrespect to either of them — the Clinton Global Initiative is great and so is health care — but honestly, could the Secretary of State fly any more under the radar? Two months later, Hillary Clinton is still “the invisible woman at the State Department,” as Tina Brown coined it in July. It’s the exact opposite from the El Completo Ginsburg President — which is fine, he’s the President — but even Condi got more facetime than this.

Since Hillary’s invisibility was pointed out two months ago &mdahs; by Brown, by the New York Times, by Peggy Noonan, by us — her big news breakthrough happened thanks to her groundbreaking trip to the Congo. Not because of her speaking out against violence against women and the use of rape as a weapon of war, but because of her testy reaction to a question. You know what I’m talking about, if you don’t just Google “Hillary Clinton Congo.”

This is a mistake and a misuse of a fantastic resource — Clinton was terrific on the NewsHour, with precise responses putting issues in Afghanistan in context (and spinning the McChrystal Report into its place, it should be noted). Watch it below or read it in full here. Furthermore she reiterated a soundbite that Foreign Policy called “historic“: saying that she has labeled “corruption…a national security threat.” (This is from the McChrystal Report which assesses government corruption and abuse of power as on par with the insurgency in undermining American efforts in Afghanistan.) This makes what she had to say about Afghani President Hamid Karzai significant, since she backpedals from handing him the blame:

I don’t think he was really tested in the prior administration…I think there are some positive changes going on. Is it enough? Is it moving at a pace that I prefer? No, but I want to look at this very objectively. I can see the problems and I can see, you know, the positives and then we want to move more to the positive side of the ledger.

(This, IMHO, is the only part of the interview that rang a little false to me — but what else are they going to do before the election plays out? Which she basically says: “We’re not going to make any decisions of any significance until we know the outcome of this election. I mean because we have to know who our counterparts are, and we have to make it clear that in return for X, we expect Y.”)

The point is, Clinton said a lot of important and revealing stuff in this interview. It was long and thoughtful and may not have been flashy and punchline-ridden, but it should have been promoted — and been one of many stops on her media blitz. But hey, it’s not too late — hi there, White House Twitter Feed, old friend! I see you tweeted about Obama on Letterman, and about the President at the Clinton Global Initiative today, and about the work of Vice President Joe Biden, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, White House economist Austan Goolsbee, and Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra. Surely there’s room on your Twitter feed for the Secretary of State! We’d love it if you tweeted this link out of course (here’s the bit.luy! ) but if you’re purists, here’s the direct link to the PBS trasncript. We promise we’ll retweet you!

Does The Long Arm of Gawker Reach the State Department?

Picture 3Does the long arm of Gawker reach all the way to the State Department? Yesterday, the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton protesting the behavior of private contractors employed by ArmorGroup who guard State Department employees in Kabul, Afghanistan. From the letter:

Numerous emails, photographs, and videos portray a Lord of the Flies environment. One email from a current guard describes scenes in which guards and supervisors are “peeing on people, eating potato chips out of [buttock] cracks, vodka shots out of [buttock] cracks (there is video of that one), broken doors after drnken [sic] brawls, threats and intimidation from those leaders participating in this activity….”

Disturbing, yes? Mother Jones picked up on the letter yesterday morning and wrote a longish piece about it, that post has 26 comments. Just after 4pm yesterday Gawker published an enormously disturbing slide show of photos (provided by POGO) depicting the “animal house” antics. When I saw the post an hour or so later it had already clocked over 12, 000 views. As of this morning 95,000 plus people have seen it. Yesterday evening a State Dept. spokesperson announced an investigation had been ordered and that “these are very serious allegations, and we are treating them that way.”

So was Gawker publishing the pics a motivating factor behind the State Dept’s quick response? Hard to say. Apparently the contractor ArmorGroup has been under some sort of investigation due to its behavior since 2007. But the pictures Gawker first pubbed are upsetting, utterly damning, and impossible to ignore, and they’ve now been seen very quickly by a whole lot of people (though not as many as saw McSteamy!). What may be the most interesting part of all this is that POGO first “provided” Gawker with those pictures, when no doubt there are plenty of mainstream organizations who would have been happy to pick up. Someone at POGO knows their new media stuff: Gawker is the online taste maker and is capable of immediately getting something out to a large audience who will pay attention, inevitably the MSM will follow and get out to everyone. Is this a sign of things to come? Maybe Gawker is turning itself into the new media world’s version of Woodward and Bernstein. It’s certainly quickly becoming the MSM of the blogosphere.

New York Post Fantasizes Spitzer Back Into Office

Picture 4Who wants Eliot Spitzer back in office more, Spitzer or the New York Post? The cover of the Post today says Spitzer is looking to run for office again (”say it ain’t, ho!”), the article quotes anonymous sources who say he is considering returning to public office, perhaps statewide, but provides scant evidence otherwise. Does it matter? The New York Post knows where it’s bread is buttered, if Spitzer were to run for office again just imagine the headlines! It would be the best thing to happen to the paper since Rudy Giuliani’s short-lived run against Hillary Clinton for New York’s Senate seat back in 2000.

In all likelihood the Post probably took one look at the current statewide political field, which is dire pretty much across the board, and decided some action was necessary. Between another Bloomberg term, Gillenbrand and Schumer ensconced in the Senate, and Cuomo in line for Gov, we’re not talking headline grabbers. Plus, Paterson’s numbers are so in the tank he’s almost already out of the picture. Spitzer, however, is a gift! Leave it to the Post to create for themselves a story that will carry them through another year of slumping newspaper sales.

Just wait. This story will get picked up in enough places over the next week that Spitzer will have to issue some sort of denial while simultaneously testing the waters to see in another run at something is a possibility. Also, Spitzer back in office is not that much of a stretch. Did anyone really believe the man was out of politics for good? Everyone loves a good redemption story, and New Yorkers a willing to forgive a lot in the face of ambition. And anyway, if Mark Sanford can cling to office in spite of his Buenos Aires jaunts, and Ted Kennedy can be heralded everywhere for his life-long tenacity in the face of scandals, it may be the Post, in suggesting Spitzer will soon returned to elected office, is just one step ahead of everyone else.

Ted Kennedy’s Funeral Coverage Dominates Airwaves

Picture 4

Senator Ted Kennedy’s funeral is dominating the dials this morning. For those of you unable to get to a television both and ABC News are carrying it live online (sans the history-rich coverage, alas), as is the homepage.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica, where the service is being held, is packed with dignitaries; the above pic was snapped a few minutes ago (oh to be a fly on the pew of that conversation!). You can find of list of the speakers herePresident Obama is slated to give the eulogy. Below is a look at how the Twitterverse is reacting.