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Obama Seeks out the Wise Old Men (and Women) of Foreign Policy

By Perry Bacon Jr.
Interviewed in April about his role advising Barack Obama on foreign policy, former national security adviser Anthony Lake said, "I'm one of the few bald heads."

"Most of the folks we brought in are in their 40s. They had some experience in the Clinton administration, but I think they are the next generation," said Lake, who helped put together a variety of working groups on different foreign affairs issues over the last year for the Illinois senator, who he endorsed early last year despite having served in a top post in the Clinton administration.

But the 69-year-old Lake is no longer standing out because of his lack of youth among Obama's advisers. Obama met today with a group of foreign policy advisers that his campaign announced would be part of a formal team through the November election, and he's added plenty of gray with former secretary of state Madeline Albright (71) former senator Sam Nunn (69) and former congressman Lee Hamilton (77).

Obama's campaign last week announced a bunch of economists who would be advising him, and -- just as on that list -- the foreign policy group seems selected to unite the various wings of the Democratic Party. There are Clinton backers (Albright, most prominently), longtime Obama backers (former assistant secretary of state Susan Rice, Lake, former Navy secretary Richard Danzig), and a number of officials who didn't get involved in the primary process, such as former secretary of defense William Perry.

Obama has started recalibrating some of his stances for the general election, and this new team could steer him further away from some of the bolder positions he took in the primaries.

Albright publicly praised Clinton's comments that she would not meet leaders of rogue nations without pre-conditions, after Obama said he would hold such meetings and criticized Clinton's stance. While not taking on Obama directly, Hamilton in a recent interview said "you cannot lock yourself into something in a fluid situation" when asked about setting a precise timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq.

Obama has indicated some flexibility on both issues in recent weeks, saying he would meet with leaders like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad only to advance U.S. interests, and he would consider revising his plan to withdraw all combat troops from Iraq in this first two years in office if the situation there suggested a different approach.

The list of Obama's advisers is also notable for who is not on it. Richard Holbrooke, a leading figure in the Clinton administration's foreign policy who had backed the former first lady during the primary process and has long been considered a potential secretary of state in the next Democratic administration, did not make the cut, nor did Samatha Power, who has long advised Obama on foreign policy issues but left his campaign after being quoted calling Clinton a "monster" earlier this year.

Posted at 4:20 PM ET on Jun 18, 2008  | Category:  Cast of Characters
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I resent the italics. Haven't women come far enough not to require italics in a title. I'm calling you a filthy name in my mind (Perry Bacon Jr.).

You need to retract the italics, clearly you don't respect women enough.

Posted by: Lisa W | June 19, 2008 4:14 PM

What's with the long ramble about Soros? (Who cares?)

Posted by: Soros? | June 19, 2008 2:35 PM

How Soros Financed Obama's Campaign
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May 30, 2008 (LPAC)--In late 2006, George Soros, the British empire/Wall Street gatekeeper of the Left, vetted Senator Barack Obama's potential Presidential candidacy on behalf of financier oligarchs. Soros then introduced Obama to a selected financier group, and Obama soon afterwards announced he would seek the White House.

Soros's involvement with Obama's brief national political career had begun two years earlier with Soros fundraising for Obama's campaign for U.S. senate, and continued through the 2007 Presidential campaign launch with huge fundraising operations by Soros and his circle.

SOROS AND OBAMA - A Preliminary chronology

2004: The London-Wall Street axis singled out Obama, then an Illinois state senator, as their "Rising Star" in U.S. politics. The Rockefellers' family political agency known as the League of Conservation Voters endorsed Obama in the Democratic U.S. senate primary, ran TV ads on the Rising Star theme, and directly funded Obama's national career manager, consultant David Axelrod.

Obama's opponent in the Democratic primary, Blair Hull, was a self-financed millionaire, so Obama used the "millionaires' exception" to the campaign finance law to take $12,000 each from donor, six times the ordinary limit at that time. Thus nearly half of his $5 million primary funding came from 300 donors.

George Soros raised $60,000 of this Obama funding, with his own donations and those he procured from his family. Soros reportedly met with Obama first in March -- a mere state senator, Obama was the only candidate in the country with whom Soros met personally during the 2004 election cycle, according to Soros spokesman Michael Vachon (quoted by CNS News, July 27, 2004). On June 7, 2004, Obama was in Soros' New York home for an Obama campaign fundraising event.

December 4, 2006: Obama met with George Soros in Soros' mid-town Manhattan office. After an hour interview, Soros took Obama into a conference room where a dozen plutocrats waited to talk with Obama. Key among them were UBS (Union Bank of Switzerland/Swiss Bank) U.S. chief Robert Wolf, and hedge fund manager Orin Kramer.

December, 2006, a week later, Robert Wolf had dinner in Washington D.C. with Barack Obama to map out campaign strategy.

Early January, 2007: Obama announced his Presidential candidacy. The New York Times announced that candidate Obama had nailed the support of two highest-level Democratic fundraisers: George Soros and Robert Wolf. By mid-April, 2007, Wolf had raised $500,000 for Obama.

Mid-January, 2007: Wolf ran a dinner for Obama in Washington, with potential bundlers Jim Torrey, Brian Mathis, Jamie Rubin, and (again, from the original Soros meeting) Orin Kramer.

Early March, 2007: There were two fundraisers by Wolf and one by Edgar Bronfman, Jr.

Mid-March, 2007: George Soros began a staged dance with Obama. Writing in the New York Review of Books, Soros denounced the rightist Israeli lobby, AIPAC.

March 21, 2007: Continuing the dance, the Obama campaign rebutted Soros (as in, "Obama distances himself from Soros"), and denounced the Hamas movement.

April 9, 2007: An Obama fundraising party for the New York elite was held at the home of financier Steven Gluckstern, the former chairman of George Soros' Democracy Alliance. A photograph of the event, published (April 16, 2007) in New York magazine, showed George Soros seated immediately next to the standing, speaking Obama. Soros was enthroned as the only one in the room seated, stationed between host Gluckstern and Obama. Two months earlier Soros's Mr. Gluckstern had been quoted in the New York Observer saying he MIGHT be raising "well over a million dollars" for Obama.

May 18, 2007: George Soros hosted an Obama party at the Greenwich, Connecticut palatial mansion of Paul Tudor Jones, who runs the giant hedge fund Tudor Investment Corporation. They collected $2,300 from each of the approximately 300 attendees, the local newspaper Greenwich Time reported.

Posted by: | June 19, 2008 10:14 AM

Posted by: Anonymous | June 19, 2008 10:16 AM

I certainly don't recall Obama "saying he would meet with leaders like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad...." Surely Obama has not singled out Ahmadinejad when he has spoken of the possibility of meeting with appropriate Iranian leaders in order to advance U.S. interests, though only following thorough preparations.

Unfortunately, Perry Bacon Jr. here reminds us of his Obama's muslim links piece earlier.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 19, 2008 8:30 AM

Obama never said he would meet Ahmadinejad without preconditions, he has said this various times. Actually what he did say was that there are more important people in Iran to meet with, and the media should stop focusing on this person. Thats is very true. Please do some more reading before stating things as fact, it perpetuates false notions about his positions.

Posted by: bp | June 19, 2008 3:34 AM

recalibrating some of his stances = flipflopping

Posted by: Anonymous | June 18, 2008 6:29 PM

Obama is a pragmatist. Neither he nor McCain are idiots.

Posted by: Prophet of Doom and Gloom | June 18, 2008 6:27 PM

Obama is a very smart man.

Posted by: nelly | June 18, 2008 5:49 PM

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