APPEARING IN SCRANTON YESTERDAY, VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN SIGNED AUTOGRAPHS, KISSED BABIES AND DID THE USUAL GET-OUT-THE-VOTE POLITICAL STUFF WITH ONE NOTABLE EXCEPTION: HE DID NOT MENTION CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O BY NAME.
WITH PENNSYLVANIA NOW A STATE UP FOR GRABS, THE BARRY O CAMPAIGN HAS TO DO EVERYTHING IT CAN TO WIN IT AND IT APPEARS THE BEST WAY OF DOING THAT IS TO AVOID MENTIONING BARRY O BY NAME.
GOOD LUCK WITH THAT.
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
Conservative Thomas J. Basile (Washington Times) argues of Iraq, "The situation is a tragic reminder of just how fragile the country was when Mr. Obama opted to end any significant involvement in its future. It also may give Mitt Romney and the Republicans an opportunity to open an effective foreign policy front against the administration for leaving Iraq in the lurch and providing an opportunity for Iran to extend its influence in the region."
Related, who is Peter W. Bodde? Diplopundit noted in March that he is "a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, is currently the Assistant Chief of Mission for Assistance Transition in Iraq and Coordinator for Minority Issues at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad." He was in the news over the weekend. Saturday, the Himalayn News Service reported Peter W. Bodde had been named the new US Ambassador to Nepal. He's set to to go to Nepal "in late August" and he'll replace Scott H. DeLisi
James Jeffrey is no longer the US Ambassador in Iraq. He stepped down. The laughable Brett McGurk had been the new nominee but he withdrew his nomination. At a time when Iraq is seeing so much violence, the White House still has yet to name a new nominee to be US Ambassador to Iraq and they're also transferring out people like Bodde who have experience? Bodde is not going from Iraq to Nepal. Nor should he be expected to. He has every right to downtime. And the point isn't that Bodde shouldn't be Ambassador to Nepal. The point is that the White House is dropping the ball repeatedly.
Dropping the ball includes the fact that they're now scrambling to name the third US Ambassador to Iraq since Barack has been sworn in. Bully Boy Bush nominee Ryan Crocker agreed to stay on while Barack found a nominee. That was Chris Hill who was confirmed and didn't make four years, did he? So then Barack nominated James Jeffrey who, like Hill, didn't even make two years in the post. Clearly, the White House has done an awful job vetting people to be US Ambassador to Iraq. This is the most costly diplomatic or 'diplomatic' US mission in the world. There should not be this kind of turnover rate in the post. There should have been a steady hand. Instead, this White House has turned US Ambassador to Iraq into a revolving door post with each nominee having about the same longevity of one Larry King's wives.
Where is the leadership?
And that the Republican leadership in the Senate has failed to point this out is rather surprising. They objected to Chris Hill but confirmed him. When Jeffrey came before them, I really expected to see the Ranking Member talk about how 'regretabble' it was that less than two years after Hill was confirmed, they're again having to weigh a nomination for US Ambassador to Iraq. Maybe if the Ranking Member were John McCain and not Richard Lugar, something would have been said.
Since there's no one running the mission currently, maybe the Senate Foreign Relations Committee -- regardless of political party -- will start asking the White House some tough questions? Today at the US State Dept press briefing, spokesperson Victoria Nuland faced some:
QUESTION: On Iraq.
MS. NULAND: On Iraq? Yeah.
QUESTION: Yeah. Iraq has seen a great deal of violence in the last few weeks. It always – the summer, it goes up. My question to you is: Are U.S. activities or the State Department or the Embassy's activities in Baghdad have been curtailed as a result of this spike of violence?
MS. NULAND: To my knowledge, not. But I'm going to refer you to Embassy Baghdad.
MS. NULAND: Please.
QUESTION: Could you also – could you update us on the status of the new ambassador to Baghdad?
MS. NULAND: You mean whether the White House will nominate a new candidate, is that what you're asking?
MS. NULAND: That is definitely a question for the White House, Said.
QUESTION: But surely you can say that they will.
MS. NULAND: Over to the White House for that one.
QUESTION: Well, are you suggesting the White House is not going to name – nominate someone to be the new ambassador to the White House – I mean, to Iraq?
MS. NULAND: I'm suggesting that consideration on all ambassadorial appointments are the White House prerogative.
QUESTION: Well, are you aware that the Administration is not going to nominate someone to take that position?
MS. NULAND: I'm not aware one way or the other.
QUESTION: Okay. Could you comment on some reports that the relationship between Maliki and the United States is really quite tense these days?
MS. NULAND: We continue to have the same kind of dialogue that we've had all along. We maintain an open channel not only with the prime minister but with all of the major political figures in Iraq. And we use those channels to encourage them, among other things, to work well together and to settle their political differences through constitutional processes.
QUESTION: And who is leading that channel in Baghdad from the U.S. side?
MS. NULAND: The mission, at the moment, is led by our charge d'affaires who was the previous deputy.
Victoria Nuland loves/lives to be evasive. The name she wouldn't provide is Robert Stephen Beecroft. And, Nuland tells us, he was formerly the deputy! Oh so he must have experience with Iraq, right? No. He's not even been assigned to Iraq for a year yet. He began his first Iraq assignment July 14, 2011. He's been Charge d'affaires since June 1st.
And what position does he hold currently? The number two US official in Iraq. Since James Jeffrey has abandoned his post -- and that is the term for it, when Barack Obama was sworn in as US President, Ryan Crocker agreed to stay on until Barack could find a successor -- and since this is obviously a very delicate time for Iraq, is it really wise to take the number two US official out of Iraq at a time when not only is there no number one US official (that would be a US Ambassador to Iraq) but the White House hasn't even named a nominee for the post.
If the White House thinks they can get away without naming one in the lead up to the US elections, they are mistaken. The GOP will jump all over that to remind voters of Barack's indeciveness that characterized his state legislature career and his Senate career and they will draw lines between that and his mis-steps and failures once becoming president.
While Barack dithers, Iraq is again slammed with bombings today. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) notes "a series of attacks" in Karbala, Baghdad and Taji. BBC News focuses on a truck bombing in Diwaniya where the death toll has reached "at least 25" with another forty injured. AP notes the truck used in the bombing was a vegetable truck. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) explains, "In that attack, some 99 miles (160 kilometers) south of Baghdad, a suicide bomber parked a truck packed with explosives concealed by watermelons and began calling shoppers to the truck." Alsumaria reports that the center of city has been closed to all traffic. Yang Lina (Xinhua) reports 75 injured in that bombing. Before morning was over in the US today, RT was reporting the death toll in the Diwaniya bombing has risen to 40.
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