Al Kamen
Al Kamen
In the Loop

Hillary Rodham Clinton shows dance moves in South Africa

The video of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s smooth dance moves in Johannesburg with South African jazz and Afro-pop singer Judith Sephuma has gone viral.

In the Loop has identified some of her back-up dancers in the video, viewable at

Al Kamen

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. He began his reporting career at the Rocky Mountain News and joined The Post in 1980. He has covered local and federal courts, the Supreme Court and the State Department. Follow him on Twitter.



Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put on her dancing shoes in Johannesburg Tuesday night. Clinton danced as the crowd of attendees cheered at a dinner hosted by South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put on her dancing shoes in Johannesburg Tuesday night. Clinton danced as the crowd of attendees cheered at a dinner hosted by South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.

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Although Clinton looks ready for “Dancing With the Stars,” the same can’t be said for some other officials. Among those gamely trying their best — but, alas, not getting there — are undersecretary for economic affairs Robert Hormats and Export-Import Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg .

Ambassador Donald Gips does a bit better, although we see him only at the dinner table.

Australian High Commissioner (ambassador) to South Africa Ann Harrap , the woman to Hormats’s right early in the video, clearly knows her way around the dance floor.

The event was supposed to be closed to the media after the initial toasts, but we understand that Clinton’s team let the news corps traveling with her sit in as invited guests at the dinner hosted by Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.

Then the dancing started, and they grabbed cameras and began shooting. The event was off the record, so reporters had to get Team Hillary to let them use the video.

Have to wonder if the Clinton team from 2007-08 would have said okay to releasing this kind of video. Probably not. If it had . . .

Last plane to paradise

All packed for that wonderful 9th Circuit judicial conference in Maui, Hawaii, that starts Saturday?

Ready for a little sun, golf, yoga, surfing, snorkeling and Zumba, plus spellbinding sessions on legal issues and court administration?

The pricey getaway is a go!

Loop Fans may recall that the circuit court’s chief judge, Alex Kozinski , has been sparring since mid-May with Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who are, to put it mildly, dismayed about the week-long stay at an expensive “island paradise.” The 2010 conference there cost taxpayers more than $1.1 million.

The senators want the event either canceled or seriously scaled back.

Kozinski, in his latest response on Friday, said that “it is too late to change course this year,” citing “enormous penalties” for a canceled contract, which was signed in 2010.

Many of the 300 or so judges, lawyers and court officials, he explained in a brief letter, had purchased “non-refundable airline tickets to reduce travel costs.”

The conference program — Justices Anthony Kennedy (he’s the circuit justice) and Samuel Alito will be there — is just “outstanding,” Kozinski told the senators, and “we are very conscious of doing our best to minimize expenses.” (What? No luau?)

Kozinski pointed out that they have canceled the 2013 conference and will hold the 2014 event in California, where more than half the circuit’s judges live. (They did so under heavy pressure from Grassley and Sessions.)

But cancel this one? Not gonna happen.

“In hindsight,” Kozinski observed somewhat ruefully in the letter, “had we foreseen the nation’s current fiscal problems, we may have chosen a different site for this year’s conference.” Or maybe not.

We seem to recall the “fiscal problems” were really, really obvious in 2010, but let’s not be picky.

Grassley took the high road.

“It’s hard to understand the late recognition of the country’s fiscal state,” he said in an e-mail, “since record deficits are well-known, but better late than never.

“The cancellation of next year’s conference is a good test of whether expensive annual conferences are necessary and whether the ‘administration of justice’ suffers in the absence.”

Just make sure you don’t miss that plane to paradise. This could be the last Maui Wowie for a long, long time.

Lightening the load

Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves for a blackout. No need to break out the emergency kit with the candles and batteries, though.

Wednesday marked the beginning of the general-election “franking blackout” that starts 90 days before Election Day. That’s the period under federal election law during which congressional offices can’t send out “franked” mass communications. Translation: Lawmakers can’t send unsolicited communication — such as postcards or e-mail — to more than 499 people.

That’s partly to avoid giving incumbents an advantage over their challengers in the heat of the campaign season, particularly because the line between purely informational materials and campaign-tinged ones can be pretty thin.

Lawmakers are readying for the blackout: For example, Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Administration Committee, sent a reminder Tuesday to folks who had been receiving his e-mail newsletter, warning that unless they signed up to continue getting it, they’d be left in the dark.

How will we live without such oh-so-useful newsletters and other updates?

In a pinch, there’s always that hand-cranked AM Radio to listen to.

Cat got his tongue

Q: How is a State Department spokesman like your grandmom?

A: Naughty words make them both blush.

During a recent State Department briefing, reporters finally goaded spokesman Patrick Ventrell into using the full name of the feminist Russian punk band whose members are on trial for performing songs criticizing Russian President Vladmir Putin . After referring to the band several times by the generic label “the punk-rock band,” reporters pressed him to be more specific.

To which punk band was he referring, they wondered? There must be hundreds of ’em, after all! Reporters were not about to let him get away with such a display of modesty.

“They are indeed called . . .” Ventrell began, before switching up his sentence construction. “Pussy Riot is the name of the band.”

With Emily Heil

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intheloop. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.

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