As someone who found the whole Crowley-Gates-Obama beer summit kind of absurd the first time around, I'm actually kind of impressed--not to mention surprised--by the news that Crowley and Gates met for a second round of beers (minus Obama and the cameras) at a Cambridge bar last night. Is it possible something good might come out of that whole media circus?
Another day, another South Carolina Republican official doing something stupid--this time in a cemetery with an 18-year-old stripper, sex toys, and some Viagra. The official told the investigating police officer that the sex toys and the Viagra were things he always kept with him "just in case." He had a harder time explaining the stripper in the cemetery. North Carolinians like to say that their state is "a valley of humility between two peaks of conceit," but I'm starting to think it's pretty unfair to Virginia to lump it in with South Carolina that way.
Alan Grayson, the Democratic Congressman from Florida who's rapidly making a name for himself as the sort of liberal analogue to Michelle Bachman, is in some more hot water for calling Linda Robertson, an adviser to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, a “K Street whore.” Anthony Weiner probably had the best line among the various Congressional Democrats rushing to distance themselves from Grayson: “Is this news to you that this guy’s one fry short of a Happy Meal?" But I think what may be more troubling than Grayson's "K Street whore" comment is the venue in which he made it: Alex Jones's radio show.
In case it doesn't and your memory needs refreshing, he's the career diplomat who resigned in protest from the State Department in 2003 on the eve of the Iraq War. I bring up Kiesling because, despite all the hubbub over foreign service officer Matthew Hoh's resignation in protest over our Afghanistan policy, I'd imagine he'll become a historical footnote like Kiesling and his action will have little impact on the direction of the Obama administration's Afghanistan policy.
Ever since he helped convince Hamid Karzai last week to agree to a run-off election, John Kerry has become a critical player on Afghanistan policy to a degree that's surprising even for a chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Today, Kerry gave a speech on Afghanistan at the Council on Foreign Relations, in which he indicated that, while he thinks General McChrystal's counterinsurgency plan is too ambitious, he would support Obama sending some additional troops.
Maybe it's because I hail from a socioeconomic class that treats parenting as a combination of professional and sacred duty, but the most shocking statistic I've encountered in a long time is buried deep within this fascinating NYT article about the increasing number of runaway children in the U.S.: Federal statistics indicate that in more than three-quarters of runaway cases, parents or caretakers have not reported the child missing, often because they are angry about a fight or would simply prefer to see a problem child leave the house. I think there's a lot to be said for not being a helico
At the end of my piece on Rory Stewart in the current print issue, I mentioned that he was already plotting his leave from Harvard by running for parliament back in the U.K. A quick update on that: Over the weekend, Stewart was adopted as the Conservative candidate for Penrith and Border, which, since this is a safe Tory seat, means he'll be trading in his professorship to become an MP next year. Alex Massie has some interesting thoughts on whether Stewart's brief for a more modest approach in Afghanistan will find any takers in Parliament: I don't expect this view to catch on.
It's some 400 miles from Harvard Square to Capitol Hill, but when Rory Stewart made the trip last month, he chose an unlikely mode of transport: He took a plane. Stewart is an inveterate, epic walker. He spent part of this past summer strolling the 150 miles from Crieff to Penrith in his native Scotland. More impressively, in 2002, not long after he quit his job with the British Foreign Office, he walked across Afghanistan, a 600-mile jaunt that served as the basis for his best-selling book The Places In Between.
Biden was asked about Cheney--and his criticism of the Obama administration's Afghanistan policy review--during an interview with the press pool in Prague: Vpotus pushed back against former VP Cheney’s criticisms this week, saying it was “absolutely wrong” to say the Obama administration is dithering on Afghanistan and that the review left behind by the Bush-Cheney White House was “irrelevant.” At one point, he grew dismissive. Asked about Cheney’s criticism, he said: “Who cares what – ” and then stopped himself to find another way to put it.
The NYT reports on the NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels, which featured a surprise appearance by General McChrystal: “What we did today was to discuss General McChrystal’s overall assessment, his overall approach, and I have noted a broad support from all ministers of this overall counterinsurgency approach,” said NATO’s secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Although the broad acceptance by NATO defense ministers of General McChrystal’s strategic review included no decision on new troops, it was another in a series of judgments that success there cannot be achieved by a narrower