Specter on Sestak: It’s Nip and Tuck



New York Times White House correspondent Sheryl Gay Stolberg is trailing President Obama who is campaigning in Pennsylvania today. In a pool report she filed a few minutes ago, she reports that she caught up with US Senator Arlen Specter on the airport tarmac. On Congressman Joe Sestak‘s Senate prospects, Stolberg reports Specter said: “I think he’s made a very strong case, closed the gap and in some of the polls he’s ahead. So it’s nip and tuck.” Tuesday is…

Exaggerating the Terrorist Threat



My colleague, friend and sometime Washington Note poster Andrew Lebovich has a really excellent piece up at Foreign Policy analyzing Osama bin Laden’s new tape threatening France. Here’s the kicker, from his section on bin Laden’s attempt to “claim” the kidnapping of French nuclear workers in Niger last month: Another possible explanation for bin Laden’s “claiming” of the Niger kidnapping operation is more of an internal issue. Al Qaeda Central may be attempting to take some rhetorical control over its…

Ted Sorensen Hit by Stroke



Just a week away from the 50th anniversary of the election of John F. Kennedy, Kennedy adviser, speechwriter, and close confidante Ted Sorensen has been struck by another stroke. I don’t know the prognosis as of yet — but close associates of Ted’s are keeping TWN informed. Sorensen has been a guest blogger at The Washington Note and has become a personal friend over the years. Despite impairments after a massive stroke some years ago, Sorensen continued to think, write,…

Vanity Fair’s Republican Beefcake Calendar



(graphics credit: Vanity Fair, November 2010) I acknowledge that I am often pretty dimwitted when it comes to American pop culture — and this may be another occasion. I seriously don’t get what Vanity Fair is trying to do with this calendar. So, I throw the question up to readers: What were they thinking at Vanity Fair? I really want to understand. I look forward to reading your comments. — Steve Clemons

Steve Clemons & Ali Jalali Discuss Afghanistan, Iran & US on PBS NewsHour



I had the opportunity tonight to chat with PBS NewsHour Chief Anchor Jim Lehrer and former Afghanistan Interior Minister and National Defense University professor Ali Jalali about the solvency of Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai given the acknowledgment that he is accepting “bags of cash” from Iran. Interestingly, at a press conference Karzai also acknowledged that his government was getting similar bags of cash from the United States — which White House spokesman Robert Gibbs denied. I thought that this was…

Karzai, Iran, the US, and Bags of Cash



Tonight, I discussed the revelations that Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and his team were receiving “bags of cash” from Iran and what the implications of this were with Jim Lehrer on the PBS NewsHour. The other guest was National Defense University Professor and former Afghanistan Interior Minister Ali Jalali. Here is a good resource page with both the video clip and a transcript, which I will also post later. — Steve Clemons

Leaders on Political Right & Left Should Sign on to Chuck Hagel’s View of Public Service



Former US Senator Chuck Hagel — now teaching students chosen by lottery for his classes over at Georgetown University and of course Co-Chairman of President Obama’s Presidential Intelligence Advisory Board as well as Chairman of the Atlantic Council — has written an elegant reminder of what elected public service ought to look like. The political atmosphere of late is too toxic, too spoiled and defined by gotcha antics, than by serious and thoughtful leaders putting smart ideas for the country…