Give Joe Biden MVP Award This Week on Obama Foreign Policy Team

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joe biden twn clemons washington note.jpgRichard Wolffe wrote in his Obama campaign memoir that the President sees most of his challenges in basketball metaphors and that he’s turned on by nail-biting contests when he, Barack Obama, can switch things up in the contest and come in to make the key decisions and plays that achieve a win.
But lately, it seems to be Joe Biden who has to be given the MVP award on the Obama team this week.
Today Iraq’s government passed a politically controversial new election law allowing parliamentary elections to take place in January and also keeping a drawdown of US combat forces on schedule.
And behind the scenes, Vice President Joe Biden had a lot to do with ushering the US diplomatic and military team as well as Iraq’s political leaders over the finish line.
Joe Biden issued this statement a short while ago today on the news of the election law’s passage

I congratulate Iraqi political leaders on today’s passage of amendments to the Iraq elections law. Today’s vote by the members of the Council of Representatives will allow for parliamentary elections in January 2010, as mandated under the Iraqi constitution. I commend the Council of Representatives for coming to agreement on the various difficult issues of considerable importance to Iraqis.
I also extend my appreciation to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq for its important role in providing technical advice. These elections will be a critical step forward in advancing national unity and forming an inclusive government. Our commitment and friendship to Iraq remain strong.

But the back story is that Joe Biden put forth a lot of hours last week coordinating the key players involved in the election law political mess.
Sources report that Biden spoke twice in the last seven days to Masoud Barzani, President of Iraqi Kurdistan. Kurdistan has been particularly paralyzed over the new election law because of ethic partisanship on how voting in Kurdistan should be structured.
christopher hill iraq.jpgIn addition, US Ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill and Multi National Forces in Iraq Commander Ray Odierno have been in regular communication with the Vice President during this last week according to senior administration sources and US personnel in Iraq. The Vice President also helped the Hill-Odierno team work through final issues in an “end game video conference” on Friday, the 6th of November.
And White House staffers report that Joe Biden played quarterback for them during the recent turmoil over the on-then-off-then-on-again Iraq election law while White House personnel were in hourly contact with the embassy team and the United Nations.
Not a lot has been going right lately for the Obama national security and foreign policy teams.
odierno.jpgGeorge Mitchell’s efforts seem to be collapsing in fast motion. Karzai’s re-election has done little to restore confidence in America’s Afghanistan project. Iran is not taking the US seriously. Hillary Clinton just returned from a painfully frustrating trip to South Asia and the Middle East that seemed to open more wounds and problems than solve them.
But Joe Biden — who early in the Obama administration was supposed to be a lot of things for the President but not an alternative foreign policy czar — is turning out to be a very useful problem-solving tool for the President on the international stage.
Shortly before Biden became the President’s running mate, Biden had been featured in Working Mother magazine as one of the most family friendly legislators in Congress. The Vice President’s team shared this with me then as an indication that the eventual Vice President carried with him a skill set on domestic policy as impressive as what most already saw in foreign policy.
The VP also staked out the title “Advisor in Chief” to the President — on all issues — and was asked by the President to chair the Middle Class Task Force which had a meeting just last week reported by this writer. The Biden team also got specific tasks from the White House in dealing with global nuclear materials reduction and non-proliferation, working on some aspects of Russia policy — particularly regarding the still simmering Georgia conflict and the future direction of NATO.
And Biden was asked to help out in moving Iraq forward.
And he has delivered in substantive ways that deserve attention. He has helped smooth relations and the interaction between Odierno and Ambassador Christopher Hill — and kept everyone working systematically and seriously toward a positive conclusion of the Iraq election law drama.
We need results like this.
Once America begins showing that it can work with a complex set of actors at home and abroad and can actually achieve the results it sets out for itself, the world will begin seeing the stock of American power rise again.
Excellent work Vice President Biden.
– Steve Clemons

Comments

46 comments on “Give Joe Biden MVP Award This Week on Obama Foreign Policy Team

  1. Pahlavan says:

    I believe the comments, questions and the frustrations expressed where intelligent, fair and frankly patriotic, and I find limiting their freedom of expression to be questionable.
    I hope this reaction is not the result of your idiological preferences conflicting with your audiences views, and you are just frustrated by the never ending, often verbose rambling nonsense from bloggers like wig wag that show no regard for taking up your precious disk drive space.

    Reply

  2. easy e says:

    Re: “Comments Closed” (say what???)
    Steve,
    Hopefully your Havana trip goes well. Your decision on this is respected, but hopefully the closure of comments is temporary and that you will rethink your decision.
    There is much anger in this country, which has been increasingly reflected in the comments on TWN. Personal attacks and vile comments? Of course, but that’s to be expected (to some degree)….. especially in view of the world we’re living in. Consider the demographic/psychographic profile of the TWN audience…..would you expect othewise? This is not a forum of comatose, uninformed ‘sheeple’ (no matter which side of the aisle we’re from—–whether it’s pissed-off-american, dankervick, paulnorheim, outrageousamerican, johnh, dons, samuelburke, johnwaring, neocontrol, jdledell, mr.murder, artdecco, carroll………or wigwag, questions, nadine, kotz, etc., etc.—sorry if a few were missed).
    TWN’s forte’ over the years has been its somewhat ‘lay’ intellect and down-to-earth connection with the outside-the-beltway intelligentsia. The comments section of your blog has been a channel/medium for ensuring that the inside-the-beltway crowd HEARS what is percolating on Mainstreet America.
    You have a tremendous following that will only be sustained by allowing us to continue expressing our comments/feelings on your blog.
    Yes, let’s take a breather and CHILL for a bit. Generous refills of Mojitos will certainly help -:). But, hopefully you’ll reconsider your decision on TWN Comments. And, we’ll all make an effort to tone it down a bit………and make TWN even better.
    Best,
    easy e
    P.S. Yes, TWN now has a moral responsibility not to suppress/gag us outside-the-beltway schmucks -:)

    Reply

  3. Paul Norheim says:

    “Now, I just have to figure out if I have the stomach for any more of Wig-wag and
    Nadine’s narrative”
    The challenge is to provide alternative narratives – which many commenters here do on
    a daily basis – you included. But I think that those posts where you ask your
    opponents to go screw themselves or call them racist pieces of shit, actually damage
    your own narrative and positions more than it strengthen them. Just like when your
    opponent say that you are a piece of shit, alludes to close relatives of you or try to
    insult you in other ways, he or she weakens his/her own position and makes this blog a
    more hostile place.
    “But if this comment section is going to be a forum for bigotry and Zionist
    propaganda, which Wig-wag and Nadine are turning it into, maybe there are better ways
    to spend my online time”
    I don`t see it this way, POA. Obviously, there are plenty of commenters who provide
    different, opposing views – Kervick, you, DonS and lots of others. The challenge is to
    deliver better and stronger arguments for your own narrative or point of view.
    I think there are a couple of other issues here that frequently discourage Steve, and
    make him pissed off:
    When Steve applauds or encourages some actions by a politician – like the VP on this
    thread – there are always a dozen posters who refer to sins committed by that
    politician five or ten years ago, and they are as generous with insults as with links
    to his or her past sins. They may be correct, and they often are – but the sheer
    effect of ten or twenty posters attacking the person in question undermines Steve`s
    intention. He sees this blog as, among other things, a platform from where he can
    encourage certain trends and politicians, and criticize others. But when his efforts
    are followed by fifty comments pointing out what a corrupt asshole that very same
    politician is, it undermines the whole enterprise. The effect is simply too massive -
    and the language almost always extremely harsh.
    I am trying to see this from the perspective of the host here. On the other side,
    commenters living in a different world outside the Beltway regard this blog as a
    platform from where they can speak truth to power, and harass politicians they hate,
    sometimes with very good reasons. However, the Washington Note is not a court room,
    and there is an obvious conflict of interest here. Toning down the insults and making
    the point once, and not ten or twenty times (the effect of twenty commenters
    expressing their dislike for the person in question) may sometimes help.
    Another thing I`ve often noticed, is that when Steve publishes an essay, quite often
    you`ll see that the first or second comment following his post is a rant that is not
    even remotely related to the topic. Or just some unrelated pasted text with a link. I
    think this shows a considerable disrespect for Steve`s blog.
    The third issue is something I think Dan Kervick has mentioned in the past. Guest
    posters at TWN are frequently treated in a very hostile tone. I think everyone should
    especially make efforts to write in a civil tone, confront arguments with arguments,
    when Steve invites a new guest to write a piece for his blog.

    Reply

  4. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Interesting that the Ray McGovern piece criticizing Biden was removed. Where was that ad hominem in that?
    Paul, for myself, (who bears a great deal of “responsibility” for the adversarial and insulting tone that has Steve upset), I find it harder and harder to tolerate the sheer callousness, dishonesty, and bigotry that seems to fuel Nadine and Wig-wag’s commentary. The comment section here might just as well be a propaganda section for the far right zionist movement. Their comments are beyond despicable in the manner that they devalue the lives of Palestinians. Personally, I find their actual arguments far far more offensive than ad hominem, vulgarity, or the kind of sarcastic levity that OA brings to the debate.
    Truth be told, if someone was posting here that was as anti-semitically racist in their commentary as Wig-wag and Nadine are in the bigotry they display against the Palestinians, Steve would have banned them long ago.
    I apologize to this blog for my part in this, and I really can’t make excuses, even in light of the despicable nature of Wig-wag and Nadine’s racist and disingenuous spew. I suppose the argument could be made that ignoring them would be the more valiant and constructive reaction, but I hardly think ignoring bigotry is constructive, really, either.
    But if this comment section is going to be a forum for bigotry and Zionist propaganda, which Wig-wag and Nadine are turning it into, maybe there are better ways to spend my online time, in consideration for my respect for Steve, and my sincere desire not to rain on his parade.
    Perhaps the rest of you have the will power to confront evil with civility. I don’t. And make no mistake, Wig-wag and Nadine ooze evil with every bigoted and murderous word that rolls off their keyboards. Personally, I’ve had more than my fill of it.
    I’ve made my apologies to Steve, and they’re heartfelt. Now, I just have to figure out if I have the stomach for any more of Wig-wag and Nadine’s narrative, because its obvious they’re here to stay. I hate to hand them a victory, but maybe its time for me to move on.

    Reply

  5. D. Champless says:

    Biden is a good man with a true passion for betterment of this country. I’ve always considered him one of our top Senators, especially ethically. Joe’s natural enthusiasm can lead to a gaffe or two; I don’t see a big deal. Good to see he’s receiving recognition for his talent and hard work.

    Reply

  6. Paul Norheim says:

    Steve, I have a suggestion re ad hominem and off topic comments:
    If you discover a comment that crosses the red line, you may just block the actual poster`s access
    to this blog for a couple of weeks or a month. If this is technically feasible and does not take too
    much of your time, the more polite and constructive posters may continue their engaged on-topic
    discussion uninterrupted.
    Besides, after blocking the access for a handful of posters once, I guess this would have a disciplinal
    and preventive effect on all posters who may be tempted to harass fellow posters and their mothers
    instead of discussing the issues.
    Just a thought…
    Have a nice trip to Havana!

    Reply

  7. David says:

    Not about to defend what Biden did that was wrongheaded, and for that matter just plain wrong, any more than I would defend the things LBJ did that were horribly wrong. But this is America, a rather wrongheaded geopolitical enterprise, so I will express relief when someone like Biden in this instance, or LBJ on civil rights, finally gets something right. It’s the best this nation, given its generally uninformed, emotion-and-beliefs-driven, fundamentally pro-war electorate, appears to be capable of.

    Reply

  8. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Oops, must be a glitch. Comments seem to be working.

    Reply

  9. Outraged American says:

    How anyone can “love” a politician is beyond me. They’re paid to
    lie, cheat, steal and self-promote. For Israel, and all sorts of
    other shady grave-diggers like Big Pharma.
    Given Biden’s track record this mysterious love that’s sprouted
    up on TWN is even more incomprehensible.
    Is Biden paying you guys? In shekels, huh? Note the time of the
    post.
    Or is unconditional support of Joe “I am a Zionist” Biden now on
    the list of Hasbara talking points? Are other sites being
    bombarded with Biden lurv too?
    “Our nation” my ass. Yeah, if “our nation’s” capitol is Tel Aviv, or
    rather Jerusalem.
    *SUSPENDING DISBELIEF FOR ALL OF THREE SECONDS AT
    ISRAEL’S CHUTZPAH AT GIVING THE FINGER TO THE ENTIRE
    WORLD*
    Let’s just move the US capital to Israel and save “our” Congress
    all that tiring time wasted in the air going back and forth.
    Instead “our” Congress could be lying on ocean front beach
    chairs being hand fed Palestinian olives, the three left, by sexy
    IDF soldiers, male or female depending on their preference, and
    pondering their next step in the genocide of everyone Israel
    dislikes, which would be everyone.
    Hey Joe, and I do love Jimi Hendrix, why don’t you come down
    Arizona way and fix what’s wrong with a US state before you
    lead the charge on Iran?
    On the other hand, NO. Biden’s track record is too nasty so just
    go to Israel Joe. You belong there.

    Reply

  10. Principia says:

    Excellent work Steve Clemons ;-) I don’t have much to add to your post, you’ve covered accurately Joe Biden’s accomplishments and value to the administration and I would say our nation. Looks like Obama knew what he was doing with his VP choice. Perhaps it’s just as well the spotlight is not pointed directly on Joe; he doesn’t seem to mind and comments tend to stray. I love Biden.

    Reply

  11. Outraged American says:

    Backbeat says, “Biden IS foreign policy” Good, so now we know
    who to guillotine first.
    Getting out my knitting needles.

    Reply

  12. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Hmmm…I sense a little bit of undue adoration on the part of the author”
    Yeah, but ya gotta admit Acute Biden Adoration Syndrome is just kinda weird, but not really over-the-top weird like Chronic Palin Hysteria is.

    Reply

  13. Mark says:

    VP Biden seems to be a much more astute person when the cameras and mike are on than he is in personal negotiations. He certainly is not touting the fabulous efforts in public.
    Hmmm…I sense a little bit of undue adoration on the part of the author.

    Reply

  14. PissedOffAmerican says:

    You mean just because we know he is Stewart doesn’t mean we know he is Stewart???
    Oh my, now I AM confused.
    Just call me “Bill”.

    Reply

  15. Dan Kervick says:

    “Let it go.”
    ??? My contribution to this thread so far has consisted in a single sentence “Back Beat”; and I didn’t express any opinion at all on either the substance of Steve’s Joe Biden praises or the substance of some of the commenters’ Joe Biden criticisms. So what’s your beef?
    It does seem a little weird to me though that the members of some kind of Joe Biden fan club, whom I can’t recall having encountered here before, have suddenly dropped in to pull their hair out over criticism that is pretty run-of-the-mill by the standards of this blog, and to mock the anonymity of the critics, even though they themselves are using only their first names.

    Reply

  16. PissedOffAmerican says:

    And to be fair, here is Steve debating Zunes about Biden’s foreign policy record…..
    http://www.democracynow.org/2008/8/25/a_debate_on_sen_joe_bidens
    “It appears Obama has learned how to best utilize his talented and energetic VP…by not trying to control him. Obama is a wise boss”
    A shame he decided to exercise such “wisdom” when he sent the Clinton witch out to screw things up, eh?

    Reply

  17. Back Beat says:

    Dan K. it sounds to me like stewart’s skin is plenty thick enough, he just choses to wash it after reading a few comments and moved on. I get it. There’s life to live other than this thread.
    However, could you have the thin skin here, lol? The commenter seems to have touched a nerve. Let it go.
    Back at the ranch: Kudos to the vice president, Steve, I gladly bestow an MVP on him. I don’t think Obama chose the best individual for his deuce, I know he did and I was not a fan of Biden’s at all. From the beginning the president has plied the veep with increased responsibilites, yet we hear little of Biden’s vast role through the MSM. His few words of comment on a teleprompter falling, you have big news. Go figure.
    When Obama added Iraq to Biden’s portfolio, when he dispatched the veep on numerous foreign missions and assigned him lead on significant administration domestic programs, I knew Obama purposely evaluated his team, not just initially, but ongoing. Find talent and push it. I started paying more attention to Joe.
    Biden IS foreign policy, I knew that, but the guy is providing much more than I honestly would have thought him capable. I questioned Obama’s choice of Biden. He has a huge personality, but he’s also an extrememly bright, multi-talented individual who seems to enjoy working hard. I became more interested in Biden after reading his thoughts and warnings on Pakistan. He was correct and light years ahead of many other so-called experts. I agree with Biden’s strategy on Afghanistan, beginning back in March. I watch him closely now.
    It appears Obama has learned how to best utilize his talented and energetic VP…by not trying to control him. Obama is a wise boss.

    Reply

  18. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Elizabeth,
    You are obviously not at all familiar with Joe Biden’s stance on the Iraq invasion or on anything else for that matter.
    Your comment is non-serious.

    Reply

  19. PissedOffAmerican says:

    ‘Course, if the “really is Elizabeth” and the guy who is no doubt named “Stewart” don’t wanna take McGovern’s word for it, I can always offer up Stephen Zunes, in a piece he wrote in 2008 For Asia Times Online.
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/JH28Ak01.html
    An excerpt….
    Biden shepherds the war authorization
    It is difficult to overestimate the critical role Biden played in making the tragedy of the Iraq War possible. More than two months prior to the 2002 war resolution even being introduced, in what was widely interpreted as the first sign that the US Congress would endorse a US invasion of Iraq, Biden declared on August 4 that the United States was probably going to war. In his powerful position as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he orchestrated a propaganda show designed to sell the war to skeptical colleagues and the America public by ensuring that dissenting voices would not get a fair hearing.
    As Scott Ritter, the former chief UN weapons inspector, noted at the time, “For Senator Biden’s Iraq hearings to be anything more than a political sham used to invoke a modern-day Gulf of Tonkin resolution-equivalent for Iraq, his committee will need to ask hard questions – and demand hard facts – concerning the real nature of the weapons threat posed by Iraq.” (Ritter was referring to the incidents in 1964 between American destroyers and North Vietnamese torpedo boats in the Gulf of Tonkin that prompted the first large-scale involvement of US armed forces in Vietnam.)
    It soon became apparent that Biden had no intention of asking hard questions. Biden refused to even allow Ritter himself – who knew more about Iraq’s WMD capabilities than anyone and would have testified that Iraq had achieved at least qualitative disarmament – to testify. Ironically, on Meet the Press last year, Biden defended his false claims about Iraqi WMDs by insisting that “everyone in the world thought he had them. The weapons inspectors said he had them.”
    Biden also refused to honor requests by some of his Democratic colleagues to include in the hearings some of the leading anti-war scholars familiar with Iraq and Middle East. These included both those who would have reiterated Ritter’s conclusions about non-existent Iraqi WMD capabilities as well as those prepared to testify that a US invasion of Iraq would likely set back the struggle against al-Qaeda, alienate the US from much of the world and precipitate bloody urban counter-insurgency warfare amid rising terrorism, Islamist extremism and sectarian violence. All of these predictions ended up being exactly what transpired.
    Nor did Biden even call some of the dissenting officials in the Pentagon or State Department who were willing to challenge the alarmist claims of their ideologically-driven superiors. He was willing, however, to allow Iraqi defectors of highly dubious credentials to make false testimony about the vast quantities of WMD materiel supposedly in Saddam’s possession. Ritter has correctly accused Biden of having “preordained a conclusion that seeks to remove Saddam Hussein from power regardless of the facts and … using these hearings to provide political cover for a massive military attack on Iraq”.
    Supported an invasion before Bush
    Rather than being a hapless victim of the Bush administration’s lies and manipulation, Biden was calling for a US invasion of Iraq and making false statements regarding Saddam’s supposed possession of WMD years before Bush even came to office.
    In 1998, Biden was calling for a US invasion of that oil-rich country. Even though UN inspectors and the UN-led disarmament process led to the elimination of Iraq’s WMD threat, Biden – in an effort to discredit the world body and make an excuse for war – insisted that UN inspectors could never be trusted to do the job. During senate hearings on Iraq in September of that year, Biden told Ritter, “As long as Saddam’s at the helm, there is no reasonable prospect you or any other inspector is ever going to be able to guarantee that we have rooted out, root and branch, the entirety of Saddam’s program relative to weapons of mass destruction.”
    Calling for military action on the scale of the Gulf War seven years earlier, he continued, “The only way we’re going to get rid of Saddam Hussein is we’re going to end up having to start it alone,” telling the US Marine Corps veteran “it’s going to require guys like you in uniform to be back on foot in the desert taking Saddam down”.
    When Ritter tried to make the case that president Bill Clinton’s proposed large-scale bombing of Iraq could jeopardize the UN inspections process, Biden condescendingly replied that decisions on the use of military force were “beyond your pay grade”. As Ritter predicted, when Clinton ordered UN inspectors out of Iraq in December of that year and followed up with a four-day bombing campaign known as Operation Desert Fox, Saddam was provided with an excuse to refuse to allow the inspectors to return. Biden then conveniently used Saddam’s failure to allow them to return as an excuse for going to war four years later.
    End excerpt.
    So, See, I kinda equate this election “milestone” that Biden supposedly engineered with some poor guy that has the brains to clean his shoes after he’s stepped in a heaping pile of dogcrap.
    I mean really, its commendable he cleaned the dogcrap off, but, uh, does that make him a hero?

    Reply

  20. Dan Kervick says:

    Stewart, you need to grow a thicker skin.

    Reply

  21. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Comical really.
    Would it enhance my credibility if I told the posters here that my name is Joseph P. Smith? I hope not, because I’d be lying.
    The idea that some of us are posting anonomously, and some aren’t, is laughable. Gee, now that I know that Elizabeth is Elizabeth, maybe, or maybe not, I’l be sure to put her words in the bank.
    And if this “stewart” fellow, (?), needs a shower after seeing the caped crusader Biden criticized, then whats he need when considering the million or so dead Iraqis that Biden helped grease the skids to murder? An enema?
    So, now that I know that Elizabeth might be Elizabeth, and that Stewart might be Stewart, I hope one or the other of them will tell me what Biden did to oppose the Iraq war, or to expose the obvious lies that were used to launch it. Lies, I might add, that were augmented by a lie or two of Biden’s.
    Anyone seem a comment from Biden about the Goldstone Report? About the settlements??? About Obama taking Bush’s positions on FISA spying and no accountability for torture? Anyone seen Biden advocating for accountability about these bastards that LIED us into Iraq? About Gonzalez and Rice committing KNOWN perjuries? About Obama keeping Blackwater on the payroll, despite murders, rapes, child prostitution, overbilling, and just general scuminess?
    Its comforting knowing that “Stewart” and “Elizabeth” have such great faith in Biden that they’re willing to ignore reality, history, and honesty. One thing about it, if there is such a thing as a “bipartisan” political stance, detachment from reality certainly seems to be a common one.
    Purple dye wears off. So will whatever “stability” is acheived by these Iraqi election laws. Obama was sorely in need of a “success”, so one has been fabricated. It won’t last six months.

    Reply

  22. Outraged American says:

    Sorry, I meant “ecumenical” not Catholic when talking about
    McGovern.
    Biden was raised a Catholic, and he needs to spend the next 50
    years in confession and then a year in purgatory for every Iraqi,
    Afghan, Palestinian, Pakistani, killed during the time he was in
    office.
    Then a few millenia for the Bankruptcy Bill.

    Reply

  23. Outraged American says:

    Amen POA. I have interviewed Ray McGovern too, three or four
    times. He wears his Catholicism on his sleeve, by which I mean
    the good parts of the teachings of Christ. And again, I’m an
    atheist, raised a Catholic.
    Maybe Elizabeth is related to Stewart? Joe Biden’s love children?
    There was that five year gap between the truly tragic death of
    Biden’s first wife and his marriage to the second wife.
    Go down there please, to the Biden/ Domestic policy post which
    is almost at the bottom of TWN, and read the articles I found
    about Biden’s water carrying for the Bankruptcy Bill.
    Biden’s disgraceful IMO on both the foreign policy and domestic
    fronts. And I’m surprised that other posters aren’t getting that
    given the ample evidence that has been posted.
    This is what I have felt so many times when I dealt with un-
    “think” tanks and “US” Congressional representatives — they
    have no clue, and don’t want to, about what’s happening in the
    real world. It’s all a game for them. A money making game,
    with the additional benefit that they get to jerk-off at their own
    power.
    There are about ten honest people in the US Congress, the rest
    deserve to be guillotined. Poste haste.
    Some of the smarter posters on here still seem to have blind
    faith in the Democrats, to which I have to say, graduate from
    second grade and then get back to me.
    And Stewart, I note that you yourself don’t give a last name.
    I did a web search on “Elizabeth Miller” and got 255,000 results.
    I’m sure we can track down which “Elizabeth Miller” is posting
    here. Should only take a second. *EYE ROLL*
    So I was just outside talking to the young woman whose five-
    year-old I help take care of, who my brother is letting live in his
    house rent free, and who just got laid-off.
    NO JOBS and she’s qualified to be an administrative assistant.
    She is frantic. Unemployment will giver her $800 a month. I
    didn’t question why she would need more, because with my
    brother’s and my help I could live off of that, but still…
    I told her about Hindry’s unemployment estimate, but that went
    way over her head. Not that she’s dumb, just undereducated.
    She never got the chance to get educate, LIKE MOST OF THE 23
    YEAR OLDS SINCE REAGAN WAS IN OFFICE.
    Again, Congress needs to live in the real world, not their fucking
    bubble.

    Reply

  24. David says:

    I needed some foreign policy good news. Merci, danke, muchas gracias, and every other kind of thank you. A vice-president working to make the world a safer, better place. What a breath of fresh air.
    And kudos to Joe Biden for this: “I also extend my appreciation to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq for its important role in providing technical advice.” The institution might be imperfect, as are all political organizations, but that does not make it a bit less important, and this case valuable. Think I might get my UN flag out and fly it in honor of this statement.

    Reply

  25. Stewart says:

    Great post on Vice President Biden, Mr. Clemons. It was refreshing to read and I believe spot on. I’ve followed Mr. Biden for many years, through ups and downs, and have always held him in the highest regard. I understand his support of his state and its constituents and its businesses, after all, that is a part of his job. I especially admire Mr. Biden’s brilliance in foreign relations and foreign policy: he stands in his own light. But, because I know him, it is Joe Biden’s true humanity and respect for all that impresses me most. Hair-splitting aside.
    Apparently one cannot post a compliment to Mr. Biden without experiencing hate- and anger-filled attacks from others on this thread. Too bad really. Different readers will have differing opinions based on how we view life and others, what is valued, what is superfluous.
    Elizabeth Miller, I respect you. You are obviously very bright. You do not feel a need to hide behind a screen name. You’re impressive. Funny how dispicable commenters become when they maintain anonymity.
    Excuse me Ms. Miller…for some reason I feel a need for a shower.
    Mr. Clemons, excellent post.

    Reply

  26. Elizabeth Miller says:

    “But Joe Biden — who early in the Obama administration was supposed to be a lot of things for the President but not an alternative foreign policy czar — is turning out to be a very useful problem-solving tool for the President on the international stage.”
    I’m not sure what exactly Steve meant by that.
    But, if the Obama administration didn’t think that Joe Biden would be an alternate foreign policy czar, then President Obama may have considered him a foreign policy ‘security blamket’ of sorts, especially on Iraq and Afghanistan and some of the other hot spots around the globe. I mean, do we really think that Biden was chosen as VP to help push along the ‘middle class’ agenda? Please.

    Reply

  27. Elizabeth Miller says:

    POA,
    You are obviously not at all familiar with Joe Biden’s stance on the Iraq invasion or on anything else for that matter.
    Your comment is non-serious.

    Reply

  28. PissedOffAmerican says:

    This constant argument that our politicians can be dishonest money grubbing scumbags in one area, and fine upstanding “representatives of the people’s interests” in another area, is pure unmittigated horseshit.
    Foreign policy??? Fact is, if these cowardly mewling politicians like Biden woulda opened their mouths and dissented against the OBVIOUS con job that got us into Iraq in the first place, this thread wouldn’t exist, would it?
    I gotta lodge a sarcastic BFD on this election bullshit. Virtually every “milestone” we’ve seen in Iraq has turned out to be a propaganda ploy designed to put lipstick on an extremely ugly pig. And I’ll include the so called “success of the surge” garbage in that stew of message force multiplier’s multiplied force messages. If any of you think the bailing wire holding that clusterfuck together is going to hold for long, you’re living in a dream world.
    And “I am a Zionist” Joe can’t exactly be considered “family friendly” when he’s swilling the “Israel’s right to defend itself” cocktail while Israel is cooking families in white phosphorous, can he? Oh I forgot, those are just degenerate Muslim families. Silly me, I forgot, those don’t count.

    Reply

  29. Dan Kervick says:

    “The United States should be supporting the Kurds in this because both Erbil and Kirkuk are historically Kurdish territory.”
    That doesn’t strike me as an especially compelling reason to support the Kurds, WigWag.
    The house I grew up in is now owned by someone else. Kervicks lived there for a few generations, so it was historically Kervick territory. Whatever.
    “If he did, he would be advocating the one thing in Iraq that really is in American interests; Kurdish independence.”
    It’s hard to imagine a worse, more complicating and more destabilizing development for that region. Kurdish independence would complicate and worsen relations with three major countries at once. And it would be like dropping a bomb filled with corrosive and destructive nationalist acid in a region that has already had way to many destructive events.
    There are too many independent countries in this world as it is. We could stand to have fewer of them, and don’t need any more.

    Reply

  30. Elizabeth Miller says:

    Outraged American,
    Unfortunately, you won’t find many links in the press or blogosphere about why Senator Biden voted for that bill after having voted against it twice or what improvements he was finally able to add to the bill. I think I’ve already made myself clear as to why that may be.
    Rather than give you my thoughts on it on a FOREIGN POLICY thread, I’d like to give you Biden’s own words.
    But, alas, Senator Biden’s senate website is a thing of the past and I cannot find a link to his statement on the bill…when I do, I’ll get back to you.

    Reply

  31. Outraged American says:

    Elizabeth,if you know why Biden voted (and was a driving force
    behind) the Bankruptcy Bill please tell us.
    It’s an issue very near and dear to many Americans hearts.
    I’ll have to go think about the Kurds, damn them, but I did cover it,
    like two years ago when Turkey was bombing them… hate
    thinking…
    I want to know about Biden and the Bankruptcy Bill.

    Reply

  32. WigWag says:

    It looks like she was right! Joe Biden did not “screw” th Kurds; in fact, the deal that was signed is far more favorable to them than to the Arabs or Turkmen living in Kirkuk.
    This is how the New York Times is describing it this evening in an article by Timothy Williams and Sa’ad Izzi (Iraq Passes Crucial Election Law),
    “…For weeks, the legislature had wrestled with how to determine voter eligibility in Kirkuk, which sits on billions of barrels of oil. The issue threatened to undermine the election and Parliament’s inability to resolve it had become a symbol of Iraq’s political dysfunction.
    Tens of thousands of Kurds were forced out of Kirkuk by Saddam Hussein, who replaced them with Arabs in order to tighten his grip on the region’s oil. Since the United States-led invasion that ousted Mr. Hussein in 2003, thousands of Kurds have moved back.
    Arabs and Turkmens in Kirkuk had favored using voter registration lists from 2004 or 2005, while Kurds wanted to use voter rolls from 2009 that reflected their substantially higher numbers.
    The agreement reached Sunday, brokered by the United States and the United Nations, will use voter lists from 2009, but if the number of eligible voters in a particular area is deemed by members of Parliament to be suspiciously high, a committee overseen by the United Nations will be formed to determine whether fraud has occurred, according to a draft of the law.
    The compromise satisfied each of the groups competing for dominance in Kirkuk. “We have passed a stage, a crisis, and no one is a loser,” said Abbas al-Bayti, a Turkmen legislator.
    Osama al-Najafi, an Arab legislator, said: “There will be no injustice for the people of Kirkuk. This is a great victory for their historical rights…”
    The reality is that this isn’t a a great victory for the Arabs or Turkmen, it is a great victory for the Kurds because they don’t need to commit fraud to win in Kirkuk; all they have to do is vote; they outnumber the Arabs and Turkmen by a significant margin.
    Good for the Kurds and good for Joe Biden!

    Reply

  33. Elizabeth Miller says:

    First off, you are all misrepresenting why Biden voted for that Bankruptcy Bill. Do any of you know why he voted for that bill and what he contributed to that bill and how very, very, very small were the contributions to his senate campaigns courtesy of the credit card companies et al.!?
    When you find out, get back to me.
    WigWag,
    I have been following Senator Biden’s career – off and on – for the better part of the last 20 years, particularly since 9/11 and he has proven to be one of the only politicians in whom I place a great deal of trust.
    Vice President Biden is considered by Kurdish leaders to be a friend of Iraq and of Iraqi Kurdistan. He also understands that outright Kurdish independence is not now in the interests of Iraq, the region or of Kurdistan itself.

    Reply

  34. Outraged American says:

    Paul, you don’t understand the credit card industry in the US,
    Americans don’t even understand it.
    Both my husband and I have perfect credit histories, and we pay
    off our balance every month, so effectively owe nothing.
    Given that article that I just posted, we would prefer to pay cash
    – I’m not paying 30% interest to buy a Carl’s Jr. burger — yet, if
    we canceled our cards it would COUNT AGAINST our credit
    scores and we might be denied loans in the future.
    It’s that screwed up.
    In terms of medical bills: I had a kidney infection in 2002 that
    almost killed me. If I had paid the full price of my hospital stay
    it would have been $29,000, but I had insurance, so the hospital
    charged the insurance company $6000 only. If I had not had
    insurance I would have had to pay $29,000 out of pocket.
    The insurance companies bargain with the health care providers.
    That’s the way it works — if you don’t have insurance you pay
    an inflated bill.
    Our health insurance system is so different from yours I don’t
    think that you can fathom the discrepancies, but the bottom line
    is this (and please reference the statistics I’ve already posted)
    * a huge % of bankruptcies in the US are caused by medical bills
    * these include people who actually had health insurance but it
    ran out
    * Biden was one of the people in Congress behind the
    Bankruptcy Bill, and the state he represented, Delaware, is Credit
    Card Central.
    * Thus Biden is still responsible for millions of Americans being
    screwed because they had the misfortune to do something
    normal like get sick.
    Therefore Biden took down a sizeable chunk of the middle and
    working class and yet has the gall to say that he represents
    them.

    Reply

  35. Paul Norheim says:

    “Paul, I’m pretty sure you misread OA.”
    My formulation was clumsy. We all have to make compromises once in a while.
    This happens to be Steve`s blog.

    Reply

  36. Ben Rosengart says:

    Paul, I’m pretty sure you misread OA.
    Steve, I disagree with you about the relevance of the Bankruptcy
    Bill. I would very much like to see Biden claim the mantle of
    defender of the middle class, but that law is a major blot on his
    record in that regard. Being from Delaware, he was, I’m sure,
    somewhat boxed in by the political power of the Delaware finance
    industry. But while that explains his vote, it does not excuse it.
    If you’re not sure about the importance of that law, talk to your
    friend Josh Marshall, who opposed it strongly.

    Reply

  37. Paul Norheim says:

    “But if Iraq is to remain peaceful and viable after the United States leaves, the
    elections not only have to take place, they need to be scrupulously fair. If Biden
    screwed the Kurds, this is not fair and will have ramifications for Iraq long after
    American troops are withdrawn.
    Like Bush, Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing when it comes to Iraq. If he did, he
    would be advocating the one thing in Iraq that really is in American interests; Kurdish
    independence.”
    WigWag, I`m sure you realize that there is a potential conflict between “a peaceful and
    viable Iraq” and “Kurdish independence”?

    Reply

  38. Paul Norheim says:

    “And if you think this comment section is going to cut you off the
    DC cocktail party circuit you should close it.”
    Please speak for yourself, OA. Most commenters here have learned to accept that access to
    the DC cocktail party happens to be useful for this blog. Talking to these people is part
    of his job – whether we like it or not.

    Reply

  39. WigWag says:

    “I’m pretty sure that Biden didn’t ‘screw’ the Kurds! (Elizabeth Miller)
    I don’t know whether Biden did or didn’t. You seem to be pretty certain that Biden treated the Kurds fairly.
    What makes you so sure?

    Reply

  40. Outraged American says:

    Steve, you yourself brought up Biden’s domestic policy: in your
    post you talk about Biden being “family friendly” -what’s “family
    friendly” about bankruptcy, especially if it’s because of medical
    bills?
    I’ve been putting forward facts about Delaware and Biden’s
    involvement with the credit card czars, but I wouldn’t have
    brought it up in this particular post if you hadn’t.
    Here’s another for the Biden/ Credit card company lovers. From
    this week’s Boston Globe h/t informationclearinghouse.info:
    Credit card firms hurry to raise rates
    Some top 30% as new rules loom
    November 6, 2009
    Credit card companies are rushing to increase interest rates to
    historic highs of more than 30 percent, cut credit limits, and add
    new fees, even for customers who pay their bills on time.
    whole article
    http://tinyurl.com/yh32mfo
    With all due respect, and I do respect you tremendously, even if I
    think you’re all kinds of wrong on Iran, you don’t really live in
    the real world.
    In the real world people have all sorts of bills. Sure they’ve
    over-extended themselves in some cases, but I grew-up dirt
    poor when my dad lost our life savings, so I know what it’s like
    to scrape pennies together. I know what it’s like to not have
    food. Now, moving back to Arizona, I see it all around –
    people have nothing.
    That’s not the world inside the Beltway, but the Beltway better
    get back in touch with the real people who live in the real
    America, because at some point, and I would venture to guess
    rather soon, the scales will tip.
    And if you think this comment section is going to cut you off the
    DC cocktail party circuit you should close it. It’s always going to
    be survival of the fittest and you need to protect yourself. And I
    mean that. If your posters are more trouble than we’re worth
    take care of yourself first.
    You’re a very decent guy Steve and I hope that you live long and
    prosper. *Channeling Kotza’s Klingon*

    Reply

  41. Elizabeth Miller says:

    WigWag,
    I’m pretty sure that Biden didn’t ‘screw’ the Kurds!
    And, I don’t think that outright Kurdish independence is in the cards, either…unless, of course, Iraq decides that it wants more instability and insecurity, not to mention an unpredictable regional conflagration.

    Reply

  42. WigWag says:

    Steve tells us that Joe Biden did a good job at urging the various factions in Iraq to compromise and thus facilitated Iraqi Parliamentary elections in January. On the surface this sounds fine, especially if it greases the wheels for a U.S. departure from Iraq. But Steve doesn’t tell us the details of the compromise and he doesn’t provide us with any information about what Biden said to Barzani to induce the Kurds to compromise.
    Compromise for the sake of compromise may sound good initially but it can lead to future problems.
    The Kurds are interested in incorporating both Erbil and Kirkuk into their autonomous territory and eventually into their future independent state. The United States should be supporting the Kurds in this because both Erbil and Kirkuk are historically Kurdish territory.
    The Kurdish objections to the provincial elections specifically revolve around Kirkuk. Saddam expelled tens of thousands of Kurds from Kirkuk and replaced them with Arab Iraqis (primarily Sunni) that he shipped in from the central part of the country.
    With Saddam’s downfall the expelled Kurds returned. The dispute between the Kurds and the Iraqi central government has to do with whether the voter lists will take into account the current population of Kirkuk with all of its Kurdish, Arab and Turkmen citizens or whether the voter registry that’s used will be the old one (used during the time when Saddam was still in power) which does not reflect the fact that many thousands of Kurds have now returned to their ancestral homes in Kirkuk.
    The Iraqi central government, as well as the Arabs and Turkmen in Kirkuk have objected to a new census because they know it will confirm that Kirkuk now has a significant Kurdish majority as it had throughout most of its history.
    There is only one fair resolution to this dispute; using the most recent and thus most accurate voter registries. If Biden facilitated this; he did a good job; if he watered down the requirement that the most accurate voter rolls be used he did a poor job. Steve doesn’t tell us which it is.
    Obama, Biden and virtually every sane American wants the United States out of Iraq as soon as possible. Parliamentary elections will speed the day when this is possible, so of course everyone’s in favor of them taking place.
    But if Iraq is to remain peaceful and viable after the United States leaves, the elections not only have to take place, they need to be scrupulously fair. If Biden screwed the Kurds, this is not fair and will have ramifications for Iraq long after American troops are withdrawn.
    Like Bush, Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing when it comes to Iraq. If he did, he would be advocating the one thing in Iraq that really is in American interests; Kurdish independence.

    Reply

  43. Elizabeth Miller says:

    Steve,
    I just wanted to send a very hearty thanks for never failing to highlight the critical role that Vice President Biden is playing in this administration. You are one of a very select group who recognize the value that Biden adds to team Obama, particularly in the realm of foreign policy.
    When all is said and done, and America’s credibility in the world has been restored and its global leadership role regained, Vice President Biden will have played a critical and pivotal role in making that happen.
    Your insightful analysis of the vice president’s role in the Obama administration is all the more appreciated in view of the utter incompetence and ineptitude of the vast majority of the media/blogosphere/punditocracy who have never understood the first thing about anything Biden says or does.
    And, so…thanks again and here’s hoping that your Huffington Post piece adorns the top of the Joe Biden big news page for more than a day or so!
    I will also remain hopeful that Biden’s influence on shaping the new strategy for Afghanistan-Pakistan and the wider region will be evident when that announcement is finally made.
    Oh, and just one question, if I may…have you heard anything about the meeting between Matthew Hoh and Biden’s foreign policy team? They would appear to be natural allies and perhaps a one-two punch in making the case that any escalation of troops into Afghanistan is counterproductive.

    Reply

  44. TulsaTime says:

    I guess it is nice that the VP was able to muss the hair of the Kurds and th Shiites to get an agreement out of them. It’s a nice visual and if it prevents any backtracking on the speedy exit then ye haw and pass the salad dressing.
    Now if he can prevail on his boss to get the frog out of A-stan, he will get a gold star im my book. The country is frittering itself away with pretensions of empire. Obama is already a one term, he needs to do the bold thing and LEAD us out of this insane empire grab that is the only legacy of the last 8 years.

    Reply

  45. Steve Clemons says:

    Outraged — this is a post about foreign policy and a team that has been having difficulty. I’ve written nothing about the bankruptcy bill, and it just seems odd the tendency on this blog for some commenters to constantly try and pull the topic away from what I post — debating the merits or lack thereof — to other subjects. I like many of your comments, but you would be doing me and other readers a favor if you would try to stay on topic for a while. I want you to stay here commenting — but seriously, folks that constantly try and hijack discussions for other axes they want to grind should get their own blog.
    So, can we please get back to the broad subject of what is going well and what not in the Obama foreign policy arena. I’m impressed with what Joe Biden did this week. He and others achieved results. That deserves attention.
    best regards, Steve

    Reply

  46. Outraged American says:

    More on Joe “I am a Zionist” Biden & the Bankruptcy Bill. I will
    never give Biden a pass on either domestic or foreign policy.
    JOE BIDEN’S BANKRUPT VOTE
    When researching the Democrat Senators that voted for the
    Bankruptcy bill, I found that the Senators from Delaware were the
    top recipients of campaign cash from the Finance/Credit Card
    industries. And I found that neither of them had any press releases
    explaining their votes for this bill.
    continues
    http://www.pacificviews.org/weblog/archives/000966.html

    Reply

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