The Washington Post

Pravda sticks it to ‘trucker-type’ Clinton


U.S.-Russian relations may have truly hit bottom. A vicious, over-the-top newspaper column Sunday blasted Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for saying Russian and Chinese vetoes of an Arab League-backed peace plan for Syria were “despicable.”

The column in Pravda — formerly a commie house organ and now apparently in that same mode — was headlined “Despicable is Hillary Clinton.”

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. View Archive

“She started four years ago as a charming Secretary of State, the smile on the snout to wipe out the snarl of her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice.”

But now, it continued, “she appears on camera butch, a trucker-type probably complete with tattoos, insolent, inconsequential and incompetent. We now understand Bill.”

(Read more from In the Loop.)

Reading a Pravda column, you might get the impression that Hillary Clinton hurt some feelings when she called a Russian move “despicable.” (JASON REED/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

The screed slides, with increasing incoherence, downhill from there, rehashing her 2008 campaign embellishment of her landing in Bosnia “under fire,” and then smacking her for blowing a “very easy” shot at the presidency. “Did she pull it off? No she didn’t.”

Russia and China only “exercised their right to block NATO’s evil desire to make another Libya out of Syria,” the column says. That would be bad? At least the Libyan government, as opposed to Russian ally Syria, was not engaged in a full-scale bombardment of women and children, last time we checked.

But Clinton’s not the only one who’s “despicable.” We quickly get to the “Gulf Royals, unelected, but in power,” and not a word of protest from the administration even though the regimes “have carried out the most draconian measures against their citizens.” (As opposed to a full-scale bombardment of women and children, see above.)

The ravings pivot further to “Despicable is the United States of America and its policy of torture flights.” And Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Lynndie England and “arm[ing] terrorists overseas, as was the case in Libya and as is the case in Syria.” (Full-scale bombardment of women and children, see above.)

“Despicable, then, . . . is Hillary R. Clinton and the hellhole that she represents,” the column concludes, noting that Russia and China were not “involved” in any of those “human rights violations” mentioned.

Of course there was Hungary, Poland, Chechnya, Tibet, Tiananmen Square — but we digress.

Team Clinton was furious with the column, we hear. In truth, “despicable” was a most undiplomatic term. Probably better to say “reprehensible.”

What happened to the U.S.-Russia “reset” button? Oh, yeah, ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul has it — but the Russians are barely acknowledging his presence.

The more things change

The Capitol, that grand and glorious building towering above the city, draws nearly 3 million visitors each year.

Few of them know that the iconic structure and the dome are the result of the steadfast efforts of one key senator back in the 1850s.

That was Sen. Jefferson Davis, a Mississippi Democrat and also secretary of war, who left town to head the Confederacy before the building, though well underway, was completed.

Our former colleague Guy Gugliotta, in his new book, “Freedom’s Cap,” gives us a fascinating tale of the struggles to design, fund and construct the new Capitol — at a time when the country was expanding and, at the same time, lurching toward war.

Most of us learn precious little in history class about that period: Bleeding Kansas, Dred Scott , two exceptionally pathetic presidents — Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan — and not a whole lot more.

But Gugliotta weaves a narrative of the massive construction project and the politics surrounding it. We see how Davis and others foresaw that the still-new nation would become a great power — and deserving of a great building for its seat of government — amid signs that a civil war over slavery was increasingly inevitable.

Indeed, it seems that the notion of constructing the building was about the only thing Northern and Southern lawmakers could agree on.

Washington observers will be delighted to read that some things never change here. There was constant skirmishing over just about everything, starting with intense bureaucratic infighting between the Army and the Interior Department over control of the effort — the Army won — and including disputes over whether to use federal workers or to contract out.

The lawmakers bickered over the scope and design of the project and the yearly funding for it. Lobbyists fought over lucrative contracts while losers pushed for bogus investigations.

There were selective media leaks to undermine political enemies as well as outraged protests from the Know-Nothing party — a nativist, anti-Catholic group — that Italian and Irish immigrants were taking jobs from Americans.

Some things, of course, were slightly different. By December 1859 a large number of lawmakers were armed, Gugliotta writes, and a “near-riot began” when a pistol accidentally fell out of one lawmaker’s pocket.

“The only persons who do not have a revolver and a knife,” one senator wrote, “are those who have two revolvers.”

Gugliotta dryly observes: “The age of accommodation was over.”

Great reading for spring break.

Moving up

As expected, veteran Justice Department hand Tony West is in as the new acting associate attorney general, the department’s third-ranking position. West now heads the civil division, and he was considered a shoo-in for the promotion when Tom Perrelli announced plans to step down.

In other moves, the White House recently upped Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs David Agnew to the post of deputy assistant to the president and director of intergovernmental affairs. Agnew is tasked with managing the White House’s ties to state and local officials.

Romney vs. Romney

Forget the Michigan primary. We’ve got an even tougher test of what Mitt and Ann Romney are made of.

A Loop reader recently discovered a recipe submitted by Mitt’s mother, Lenore, to a church cookbook in the mid-1960s. And since here at the Loop we love healthy competition, we matched Lenore Romney’s “Hamburger Stroganoff” against the recipe for healthy turkey burgers that Ann Romney recently pinned to her Pinterest page, to much fanfare.

And who better to judge this culinary face-off than The Post’s resident food critic, the esteemed Tom Sietsema ?

We whipped up both dishes and asked Sietsema to declare a champion. We’ll be revealing the results of the taste test later this week — along with details about the discovery of the vintage Romney recipe. Before we do, we’re asking readers to weigh in with their choice at

With Emily Heil

The Blog:
intheloop. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.


Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
How to make Sean Brock's 'Heritage' cornbread
New limbs for Pakistani soldiers
The signature dish of Charleston, S.C.
Play Videos
Why seasonal allergies make you miserable
John Lewis, 'Marv the Barb' and the politics of barber shops
What you need to know about filming the police
Play Videos
The Post taste tests Pizza Hut's new hot dog pizza
5 tips for using your thermostat
Michael Bolton's cinematic serenade to Detroit
Play Videos
Full disclosure: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1 ghoul
Pandas, from birth to milk to mom
The signature drink of New Orleans

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.