8 a.m. ET: Remember when Bill Clinton was seen as a potential liability for the Obama administration? In the weeks after President Obama was elected, the New York Times called the former president and his complex web of financial dealings "the most important stumbling block" Hillary Clinton had to overcome in order to be Secretary of State. Would he travel the world on speaking engagements to questionable groups? Hobnob with controversial donors? Would his outsize personality overshadow or interfere with his wife's work?
So far, the answer to all of those questions seems to be "no." If it's possible for one of the most famous men on the planet to fade into the background, Clinton has largely done so. Even during a recent spate of stories on how Hillary Clinton was working to figure out her role within the administration, Bill Clinton hardly got a mention. And that New York Times piece from last November did include this line: "Obama advisers also said that Mr. Clinton would bring enormous assets as a popular figure around the world who would effectively serve as an unpaid ambassador for Obama policies."
Those advisers were prophetic. At this moment, Clinton is on a delicate mission abroad, traveling to North Korea attempting to negotiate the release of two imprisoned American journalists. (How will conservatives react to footage of Clinton arriving at the airport in Pyongyang and "smiling as a young girl presented him with a large bouquet of flowers"?) Robert Gibbs said this morning the administration would have no comment on this "solely private mission" while it's underway. This story links nearly every recent Democratic occupant of the White House, as the two reporters are employed by Current TV, which is chaired by Al Gore. And during the Clinton administration, former president Jimmy Carter took his own, somewhat controversial diplomatic trip to North Korea.
Closer to home, is the White House about to suffer a high-profile personnel casualty? The Wall Street Journal reports: "Obama administration officials are holding discussions that could result in White House counsel Gregory Craig leaving his post, following a rocky tenure, people familiar with the matter said." Craig's handling of the planned closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison is reportedly the key factor in his tenuous position. (The White House dismissed the "rumors" as "nothing more than typical Washington parlor games," just as it did with Al Kamen last month.)
The final step before Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation to the Supreme Court begins today, as the Senate commences what Roll Call dubs "a highly orchestrated floor debate expected to be long on political posturing but short on substance or suspense." So far, a half-dozen Republicans have announced plans to back the nominee, and every Democrat in the chamber is expected to support her with the possible exception of Mark Begich, who hasn't yet disclosed his intentions. The final vote is expected Thursday.
Also in the Senate, the "cash for clunkers" program appears to be on shaky ground. The chamber has yet to approve the $2 billion infusion for the program that the House passed last week. More liberal senators like Dianne Feinstein and Susan Collins are now on board, but conservative critics such as Jim DeMint, Tom Coburn and others may still block the additional funding. (Perhaps they're reading the WSJ editorial page, which calls the scheme "crackpot economics.") The uncertainty over the program comes even as it is being credited with boosting auto sales in July. Even the most conservative lawmakers have auto dealers in their districts, so watch for the dealers to ramp up their lobbying efforts.
August 4, 2009; 10:04 AM ET
Go to full archive for The Rundown »
Please email us to report offensive comments.
The comments to this entry are closed.