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This is from the New York Times morning briefing.

Two weeks in, miscues are worrying Mr. Trump’s aides.
The bungled rollout of his executive order barring immigrants from seven Muslim countries, a flurry of other miscues and embarrassments, and low approval ratings have led to Mr. Trump and his top staff rethinking an improvisational approach to governing that mirrors his chaotic presidential campaign.

Time and again Hillary Clinton warned that running a campaign is not the equivalent of governing and that running businesses is not like running a country. The way Trump ran his campaign gave every indication that his “governing” style was going to be fast, loose, and superficial.

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Hillary tried to tell us, but you know: Tracy Flick, emails, private server, low energy, criminal, “lock her up,” and worse.

Meanwhile Trump, all along, had a private server just to communicate with Russian parties not yet completely identified, had surrogates talking to Russians with close ties to the Kremlin and to Putin, and even told Russia to hack Hillary’s email.

He has never bothered to inform himself, has eschewed reading and security briefings, and does not, to this day, read documents that are put in front of him for a signature, so he cannot ask questions about them, and concerns himself with whether the women on staff are wearing sufficiently feminine garb  – a twist darkly similar to the fashion police in Iran and other Islamic republics.

Improv is theatre and does entail skills, and there is no doubt that there are times when skilled statesmen and stateswomen must employ them. They are not, however, the go-to in the playbook. No matter how often we may refer to political kabuki, there is never an implication that preparation is not involved. To perform political kabuki, successful parties overprepare as do all good actors, students, teachers, and just about everyone else in a broad variety of responsible positions.

Of course there is theatre in politics. There have also been entertainers who have made the transition to politics relatively smoothly including George Murphy, Ronald Reagan, Fred Thompson, Hulk Hogan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Al Franken for example.  But it is a transition involving different skills sets.

Trump team moving on from improv? That involves homework, and homework involves reading. We’ll see how this goes.


P.S. On another note, it is not lost on me that the Times chose the verb to bar rather than to ban. Just saying.

 

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This picture is from the May 1, 2009 ceremony when the name of Brian Adkins was added to the memorial wall in the lobby of the Harry S. Truman Building. Brian was a 25-year-old Foreign Service officer killed in his first tour of duty in the consular section of the American Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  Also added to the wall that day were the names of Felix Russel Engdahl, U.S. Consul in Shanghai, who died in 1942 in a Japanese internment camp; Thomas Waldron, first U.S. Consul in Hong Kong, who died of cholera; Edmund Roberts, a special envoy sent by President Andrew Jackson to negotiate a treaty with Japan, who died of dysentery.

It was the first time we saw Secretary Clinton cry.

Date: 05/01/2009 Description: Secretary Clinton at the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) Plaque Ceremony in C Street Lobby.   © State Department photo by Michael Gross

 

Hillary Clinton on the Tragedy in Benghazi

Hillary Clinton’s Video Remarks on the Deaths of American Personnel in Benghazi, Libya

Yesterday, our U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya was attacked. Heavily armed militants assaulted the compound and set fire to our buildings. American and Libyan security personnel battled the attackers together. Four Americans were killed. They included Sean Smith, a Foreign Service information management officer, and our Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens. We are still making next of kin notifications for the other two individuals.This is an attack that should shock the conscience of people of all faiths around the world. We condemn in the strongest terms this senseless act of violence, and we send our prayers to the families, friends, and colleagues of those we’ve lost….

In the lobby of this building, the State Department, the names of those who have fallen in the line of duty are inscribed in marble. Our hearts break over each one. And now, because of this tragedy, we have new heroes to honor and more friends to mourn….

… we must be clear-eyed, even in our grief. This was an attack by a small and savage group – not the people or Government of Libya. Everywhere Chris and his team went in Libya, in a country scarred by war and tyranny, they were hailed as friends and partners. And when the attack came yesterday, Libyans stood and fought to defend our post.

May God bless them, and may God bless the thousands of Americans working in every corner of the world who make this country the greatest force for peace, prosperity, and progress, and a force that has always stood for human dignity – the greatest force the world has ever known. And may God continue to bless the United States of America.

 

President Obama and Secretary Clinton at the White House and State Department

Hillary Clinton on the Deaths of Tyrone S. Woods and Glen A. Doherty in Benghazi, Libya

Hillary Clinton at State Department Eid ul-Fitr Dinner

Religious freedom and religious tolerance are essential to the stability of any nation, any people. Hatred and violence in the name of religion only poison the well. All people of faith and good will know that the actions of a small and savage group in Benghazi do not honor religion or God in any way. Nor do they speak for the more than one billion Muslims around the world, many of whom have shown an outpouring of support during this time.

Unfortunately, however, over the last 24 hours, we have also seen violence spread elsewhere. Some seek to justify this behavior as a response to inflammatory, despicable material posted on the internet. As I said earlier today, the United States rejects both the content and the message of that video. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. At our meeting earlier today, my colleague, the foreign minister of Morocco, said that all prophets should be respected because they are all symbols of our humanity, for all humanity.

Benghazi-Spin: Myth-Busting and Reality Check

Myth:  Hillary Clinton said the attack on the Benghazi installation was an outgrowth of a demonstration against an anti-Islamist video on the internet.

Not exactly.  Here are her words on September 12, 2012.

We are working to determine the precise motivations and methods of those who carried out this assault. Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior, along with the protest that took place at our Embassy in Cairo yesterday, as a response to inflammatory material posted on the internet.

There were demonstrations against such a video at many U.S. embassies world-wide and in the region,  however.

Sep 11, 2012

Cairo protesters scale U.S. Embassy wall, remove flag

Egyptian demonstrators climbed the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo today and pulled down the American flag to protest a film they say is insulting to the prophet Mohammad.

This Wikipedia entry gives a pretty complete treatment.  All of these embassies were under the oversight of the State Department.  The American School in Tunisia was destroyed.  Secretary Clinton, just back from a tour that ended in Vladivostok,  did have her hands full, but she did not blame this attack on the video.

Hillary mentions a precedent: Terry Jones burning the Quran the previous year and the resultant deadly protest in Afghanistan.    Jones was also promoting the offensive video.

Much early discussion centered on embassy security.  Many wrongly assumed that Marine Embassy Guard were stationed at every embassy (untrue) and that their mission was to guard personnel.  Hillary points out the error as did Victoria Nuland shortly after the attacks.

Clearing The Air On How Embassy Security Works

Hillary went to Capitol Hill to testify as soon as she had gathered the necessary information and her schedule permitted.  She answered every question posed to her and also announced the appointment of the required Accountability Review Board (ARB).

Hillary Clinton with Indonesian FM Marty Natalegawa

I’m looking forward to the opportunity to go up to the Congress today. I will be briefing in two separate sessions, the House and the Senate, in a classified setting, along with my interagency colleagues, as we continue to work together, and with governments around the world, to ensure that our people and our facilities are safe. I will be joined today by the Director of National Intelligence, General Clapper, by the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, by the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Sandy Winnefeld, along with experts from the FBI, the State Department, and elsewhere in the government.

Now, I anticipate that this briefing will cover our security posture before and during the events, and the steps we have taken since to do everything we can with host governments to protect our people and our embassies and consulates. The Director of National Intelligence will speak to the intelligence issues surrounding these events in Libya. Deputy Secretary Carter will brief on the superb support we have had from the U.S. military in the wake of these events, and we are at the very early stages of an FBI investigation. The team from the FBI reached Libya earlier this week. And I will advise Congress also that I am launching an accountability review board that will be chaired by Ambassador Thomas Pickering.

Partisan attacks began early.  We went on the defensive here.

House Tea Party Members In Pursuit Of Hillary Clinton: Examine Your Own Role In Cutting Diplo Post Security

Issa Flips The Coin And The Game Is On

In the course of the four-hour testimony there were some obvious gaps in congressional knowledge of how embassy security operates.  As Victoria Nuland pointed out on September 17,  internal security (walls inward) is the task of the guest country, and external security (walls outward) is up to the host country,  Marine Embassy Security Guard (MESG) is posted at embassies (not usually at consulates) primarily to secure documents not personnel.   That task  falls under the purview of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security headed by Eric Boswell who testified in camera along with Secretary Kennedy yesterday to the same committee.

Hillary Clinton at the Transfer of Remains Ceremony to Honor Those Lost in Attacks in Benghazi, Libya

In the days since the attack, so many Libyans – including the Ambassador from Libya to the United States, who is with us today – have expressed their sorrow and solidarity. One young woman, her head covered and her eyes haunted with sadness, held up a handwritten sign that said “Thugs and killers don’t represent Benghazi nor Islam.” The President of the Palestinian Authority, who worked closely with Chris when he served in Jerusalem, sent me a letter remembering his energy and integrity, and deploring – and I quote – “an act of ugly terror.” Many others from across the Middle East and North Africa have offered similar sentiments…

This has been a difficult week for the State Department and for our country. We’ve seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men. We’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful internet video that we had nothing to do with. It is hard for the American people to make sense of that because it is senseless, and it is totally unacceptable…

The people of Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Tunisia did not trade the tyranny of a dictator for the tyranny of a mob. Reasonable people and responsible leaders in these countries need to do everything they can to restore security and hold accountable those behind these violent acts.

 

Hillary Clinton’s Media Interviews on Benghazi

For more than a month Hillary had been taking responsibility, talking to Congress and the press, providing explanations and information such as she could (some information was classified and later declassified, e.g. the fact that “the annex,” as the second building was called, was actually a CIA operation and the related fact that two of the four Americans killed were actually CIA officers and not State Department personnel).

Look, I take responsibility. I’m in charge of the State Department, 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts.

Nevertheless, when Hillary, traveling abroad in Peru, used those words to CNN’s Elise Labott it was breaking news across prime time cable.  Remarkable. Proving that when it comes to Hillary Clinton even saying the same thing differently somehow generates headlines.

(Recently she mentioned that she would decide whether or not to run in 2016 “after the first of the year.”  The story went viral despite that fact that for three months she had been saying that she would not make that decision “before the end of the year.”)

Aftermath … Benghazi, The Great Debate, and Hurricane Hillary

Hillary does not mention that, ill and injured,  she was handling her duties from home and at one point from her hospital room during the weeks in December when the ARB Report came to her.  We owe her dedication a great debt.

She has told us many times that we should take criticism seriously but not personally.  Her summary of the ARB findings stand as an excellent example.  In fact the ARB did not find fault with her or with any particular personnel.  The faults they did spotlight were functional and procedural.   Hillary addressed these with alacrity.  She accepted all 29 recommendations and ordered them implemented.  She pledged not to leave office until all were in the process of implementation and met that goal.

Here is a link to the ARB Report and the cover letter she sent with it to Congress.

Hillary Clinton’s Cover Letter to Congress and the Unclassified ARB Report

She testified on Capitol Hill as soon as her doctors permitted (which may have been earlier than they recommended).

Video: Hillary Clinton’s Testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Benghazi

As I have said many times, I take responsibility, and nobody is more committed to getting this right. I am determined to leave the State Department and our country safer, stronger, and more secure…

… let me underscore the importance of the United States continuing to lead in the Middle East, in North Africa, and around the world. We’ve come a long way in the past four years, and we cannot afford to retreat now. When America is absent, especially from unstable environments, there are consequences. Extremism takes root; our interests suffer; our security at home is threatened.

That’s why I sent Chris Stevens to Benghazi in the first place. Nobody knew the dangers better than Chris, first during the revolution, then during the transition. A weak Libyan Government, marauding militias, terrorist groups; a bomb exploded in the parking lot of his hotel, but he did not waver. Because he understood it was critical for America to be represented there at that time.

Our men and women who serve overseas understand that we accept a level of risk to protect the country we love. And they represent the best traditions of a bold and generous nation. They cannot work in bunkers and do their jobs. So it is our responsibility to make sure they have the resources they need, and to do everything we can to reduce the risks.

Video: Hillary Clinton Before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Benghazi

With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator. Now, honestly, I will do my best to answer your questions about this, but the fact is that people were trying in real time to get to the best information. The IC has a process, I understand, going with the other committees to explain how these talking points came out. But you know, to be clear, it is, from my perspective, less important today looking backwards as to why these militants decided they did it than to find them and bring them to justice, and then maybe we’ll figure out what was going on in the meantime.

Hillary speaks eloquently in this chapter in her own defense.  She really should not have to, but Benghazi became a political football the very day after it happened and the fact that she was out of politics when it happened and that those who testified before Congress were career diplomats and not politically aligned mattered nothing to the people who intended a witch hunt.

None of us can really know what we might have done as colonial residents of Salem if our neighbors were accused of witchcraft.  A rapidly dwindling number of Americans knows how they reacted when asked by Congressmen or an ambitious and wrong-headed Senator to name names of “enemies” in the entertainment industry, the military, and even in the very department Hillary headed. I, however, did know what I could do to defend Hillary, so I have included in this post not only her words, but my own defenses of her – some of them.

I know Hillary does not agree with some of what I have said, and I did go ahead and name names as she has not.  None of it is secret.

The Tea Party v. Hillary Clinton: It Never Ends

Part of the partisan offensive was a review of the Accountability Review Board reporting system initiated by some in Congress who, as Hillary points out, refused to be satisfied or simply refused to listen.  It was a silly, frivolous waste of taxpayer dollars.

Hillary Clinton and the ARB Reporting System Reviewed: Things You Should Know

Hillary Clinton and the ARB Reporting System Reviewed: More Things You Should Know

 

Benghazi was the event that drew a dividing  line through the Hillary team.  People I had known since her 2008 campaign peeled off.  It was fast and furious in dramatic, stunning contrast to the pro-Hillary passion they had professed up until that point.

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Hillary Clinton’s ‘Hard Choices’ Retrospective: Introduction

Access other chapters of this retrospective here >>>>

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Hillary Clinton meets Obama for informal lunch at the White House

May 29, 2014
(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2013.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, about to go on a book tour for her soon-to-be-released memoir, had a private lunch with President Barack Obama on Thursday.

The White House had no details, saying only that “the president enjoyed an informal, private lunch with Secretary Clinton at the White House this afternoon.”

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People Magazine was following Hillary today.

 

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Given that the discerning readers here have the intellect, perspective, and judgment to deal with authentic text rather than depend on adulterated, opinionated, cherry-picked interpretations by reporters assigned to stalk follow the Hillary Clinton beat, here are the links from the New York Times to the actual papers rather than to op-eds and  slanted “summaries” of them.

The Clinton Papers Part 1: West Wing

The National Archives made public on Friday afternoon a trove of secret documents detailing the inner workings of Bill Clinton’s White House. Thousands of pages of internal memos and papers shed light into the administration’s approach to foreign policy and domestic politics.

Clinton Papers Part 2: East Wing

The National Archives made public on Friday afternoon a trove of secret documents detailing the inner workings of Bill Clinton’s White House. This collection includes documents related to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s role.

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Obama to screen ‘Mandela’ at White House; Hillary Clinton to host Kennedy Center showing

NEW YORK — The Nelson Mandela biopic “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” will get an audience from President Barack Obama, as well as a screening at the Kennedy Center hosted by Hillary Clinton.The Weinstein Co. tells The Associated Press that Obama will screen the film Thursday at the White House. Mandela’s daughters Zindzi and Zenani Mandela will join, as will the film’s stars, Idris Elba and Naomie Harris.

The film will also screen Nov. 20 at the Kennedy Center, with Clinton hosting the gala.

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Various and sundry have garnered big bucks over the years writing books about Hillary Clinton, and there are,  assuredly,  more in the pipeline, so it is no surprise that the Tweedledum and Tweedledee of campaign gossip are releasing a sequel to Game Change, their autopsy of the 2008 campaign.   In anticipation of  Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s Double Down: Game Change 2012, content leaks are few but explosive.

CNN is busily trumpeting the news that a tiny but mighty group within the White House examined the effect of replacing Joe Biden on the 2012 ticket with Hillary Clinton. What is interesting in their presentation are the key questions:  Did President Obama know?  (Strong probability.)  Did VP Biden know? (Probably not.  Their ticker reads that he dodged a bullet he did not see coming.)

Absent among the questions is whether Hillary knew.  We do not know the answer.   The question, apparently,  is not considered relevant.   That alone is telling.  Hillary Clinton is not a game piece.   Like the rest of us, she is flesh, blood, bone, and brain (a lot more brain than the other 99% and I am not talking financial assets).  Her knowledge of and stance on the switch-off Halperin and Heilmann refer to certainly deserves some discussion.

Anita Finlay reminds us that women are not cardboard cutouts.  That includes Hillary Clinton who is not Betsey McCall or a piece of illegal ivory on a chess board.   Surely one of the people whose life would have been most heavily impacted  merits some consideration by pundits so concerned about whether the two top guys knew about Bill Daley’s focus groups.  (Obama appears to know very little about what goes on in the whirlwind around him – but that is not the point,)

hillgrope

The story CNN and its pundits ignored, emanating from a second book due out soon, is that following the election Obama tried, perhaps more than once, to convince Hillary to remain for another year as Secretary of State and that she declined stating that it was time for her to leave public office.

Make of it what you will.  As stated above, these new publications join a library of gossip surrounding Hillary Clinton who is, after all, a human being whose feelings, opinions, and considerations on these issues that would have hugely impacted her life should be taken into account.

Personal take:

1) Hillary had mapped out a four-year plan of action as Secretary of State.  She had accomplished what she set out to do and never intended to remain with the administration longer than she did.

2)  I am sick of Hillary Clinton being used as a political football.  She is sweet and kind and has her own true concerns and issues that supersede those of this or any administration.  She is addressing those effectively in her current role as private citizen and that is worth watching.

3) Hillary Clinton, after 40 years of public service, deserves the kind of private life most of us consider our due.

4)  What Anita said.

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Hillary Clinton and Chelsea represented the Clinton Foundation at the Wildlife Trafficking Forum at the White House today.  It has been reported that she met with President Obama prior to the event.  She was scheduled to make some comments on Syria before today’s developments which included Secretary of State John Kerry remarking that one option for a solution would be that Syria turn over its chemical weapons to an international body.  Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, shortly afterward, made that formal suggestion to Syria.  Hillary included these developments in her remarks.

It is always helpful to have a written transcripts of remarks like these, so I hope they will become available.  I will add them here if they do.  Meanwhile here is a video of Hillary Clinton’s comments from today as former Secretary of State on Syria as as representative of the Clinton Foundation on wildlife trafficking.

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