(Providence, Rhode Island) – Normally in the week after a presidential election, everyone would still be talking about the fallout and would be handicapping the possible candidates for the next election. But, nothing stops the normal train of thought in Washington, D.C., faster than a political scandal, and that is just what has dominated the headlines for the past ten days.
Never Forget – I did a story this week talking about the focus of news coverage. Oftentimes in a scandal – particularly a political sex scandal – the coverage zeros on the salacious details of the misbehavior, and the real issue gets lost. Ask almost anyone today what the Clinton impeachment hearings were about and they will say Monica Lewinsky. Wrong! The impeachment was for President Clinton’s perjury in a federal lawsuit involving Paula Jones. In this case, General David Petraeus and the CIA were being examined for what they knew about the fatal terrorist attacks in Libya. The fact that Petraeus’s affair with biographer Paula Broadwell surfaced has now become the center of attention with a lot of the press. Many of us need to refocus more on Libya, and less on the affair.
Minute Rice – Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham promised they would block the nomination of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to be Secretary of State. Rice famously went on TV five days after the fatal Libyan attacks and proclaimed it was all about a protest over an anti-Islamic video, when in fact the administration knew by then it was a calculated terrorist attack, likely from Al-Qaeda. In his news conference this week, President Obama angrily blasted the senators for blocking Rice, as if such a promise has never been made before. Republicans will surely bring up how Democrats planned and succeeded in blocking Robert Bork and John Tower. They keep score in Washington, D.C., and Rice’s nomination – if it happens at all – may be short-lived.
Political Viability – It may seem an odd question at this point, but can David Petraeus survive this sex scandal and become a viable political candidate someday? Some had been touting him as a GOP presidential candidate down the road. He probably could sustain a comeback. The general public is hugely forgiving, as witnessed by the comebacks of Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich. On the other hand, John Edwards could probably never even run for dog catcher in North Carolina, given the circumstances of his affair. So, the jury is still out on Petraeus. The fact that he immediately admitted his indiscretion and resigned is likely in his favor. He certainly has the ego and the ambition and, at age 60, is young enough to resurface someday.
Double Trouble – The oddest duo to emerge in the Petraeus scandal is the Tampa twins, Jill Kelley and her sister, Natalie Khawam. Neither is linked to Petraeus romantically, but they were everywhere in military social circles, including with Petraeus and Gen. John Allen who is running the war in Afghanistan. Kelley became the caricature of the week. Because of all her military society work, she was made an “honorary” Ambassador at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa and an “honorary” Consul General to South Korea (why, we do not know). In any case, when the herd of reporters showed up outside her home this week, she called police in Tampa and in a desperate act of self-importance tried to invoke diplomatic immunity to keep the reporters at bay. It didn’t work!
Caught on Tape – You’d think after the secretly videotaped “47 percent" speech that wounded Mitt Romney during the campaign, he might choose his words more carefully. But this week he held a conference call with supporters and talked about all the “gifts” President Obama gave to certain voting constituencies, as the reason for the president’s reelection victory. Again, people recorded his call and it was leaked. Others in the GOP who aspire to higher office were mortified. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, who may run for president said, “No, I think that’s absolutely wrong. We have got to stop dividing the American voters. We need to go after 100 percent of the votes, not 53 percent. We need to go after every single vote. And, secondly, we need to continue to show how our policies help every voter out there achieve the American Dream, which is to be in the middle class, which is to be able to give their children an opportunity to be able to get a great education. So, I absolutely reject that notion, that description. I think that’s absolutely wrong.” It looks like Campaign 2016 is now under way!
New England Shuffle – The opening of Secretary of State has recast the name of Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts as a possible nominee, given Susan Rice’s baggage, mentioned above. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, who is termed-out and is a close friend of President Obama, is a possible pick for Attorney General or a federal judgeship. In neighboring Rhode Island, Sen. Jack Reed could be the next Secretary of Defense and independent Governor Lincoln Chafee, a close Obama ally, is also on the Cabinet short list. It’s possible all four men could be selected which would create a political scramble in Southern New England the likes of which has never been seen before. Talk about political musical chairs!
Full Circle – As I mentioned at the top, amidst all the scandal and other news, it’s important we don’t forget the four people who died in the Libyan attack. The are U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens; Sean Smith a 10-year State Department aide; Glen Doherty, a security guard and former Navy Seal; and security guard and former Navy Seal Tyrone Woods. The best way to honor them is to find out what really happened and fix it!
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