Saturday, August 25, 2007
Brzezinski Backs Obama
Barack Obama, combating the perception that he is too young and inexperienced to handle a dangerous world, got a boost yesterday from a paragon of foreign policy eminence, Zbigniew Brzezinski. The former national security adviser announced on Bloomberg Television's "Political Capital With Al Hunt" that he is supporting the junior senator from Illinois for president.
Obama "recognizes that the challenge is a new face, a new sense of direction, a new definition of America's role in the world," said Brzezinski, who keeps an office at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "Obama is clearly more effective and has the upper hand. He has a sense of what is historically relevant and what is needed from the United States in relationship to the world."
Brzezinski, who had a relatively hawkish reputation in the Carter administration but has been an outspoken critic of President Bush and the Iraq war, rejected the notion that Obama's Senate colleague Hillary Clinton is more experienced in foreign affairs. "Being a former first lady doesn't prepare you to be president," he said. "Clinton's foreign policy approach is "very conventional," he added. "I don't think the country needs to go back to what we had eight years ago."
He also defended Obama's position in his recent foreign policy tiff with Clinton, in which she called him "naive" for saying he would be willing to meet with the leaders of U.S. antagonists such as Iran and Venezuela. "What's the hang-up about negotiating with the Syrians or with the Iranians?" Brzezinski said. "What it in effect means," he said, is "that you only talk to people who agree with you."
-- Alec MacGillis
Three Favor Search Engine
It is one of the less likely alliances in the 2008 presidential campaign: What possibly could bring together Barack Obama, Sam Brownback and Ron Paul? The answer: the highly ambitious, if awkwardly named, Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act.
The act is meant to bring average Americans a kind of Google for the federal government, an online search engine that will allow citizens to look up any company, organization or other entity receiving federal contracts, grants and earmarks. The act was passed by Congress and signed by President Bush last year, but some of its supporters charge that federal agencies are dragging their feet on its implementation.
To rally support for the act, a coalition led by the libertarian Reason Foundation asked the presidential candidates to sign a pledge to issue an executive order directing all departments and agencies to join in the "timely implementation of the letter and spirit" of the act.
Only Obama, Brownback and Paul signed the pledge. Michael Flynn of the Reason Foundation said he wasn't sure why the other candidates declined.
"They just kind of dodged. They just always kept punting," he said. "It's staggering that they wouldn't sign, because this is already federal law."
-- Alec MacGillis
Romney Is All Business
If Mitt Romney wins the White House, Americans may have a less than exciting prospect on their hands: Oval Office PowerPoint presentations. President Bush may be the first president with an MBA, but Romney is even more steeped in the culture of business, having worked as a management consultant and run a venture capital firm for most of his adult life. In laying out his vision for health-care reform in a speech yesterday at the Florida Medical Association's annual meeting, the former Massachusetts governor followed an outline from a PowerPoint file that ran more than 20 pages.
In his White House run, Romney has mainly positioned himself less as the can-do technocrat he ran as in Massachusetts and more a conservative alternative to John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. But on the campaign trail, he's also touting his management and business experience.
"I spent my life in the private sector. . . . I met a payroll and had to give back to my owners their returns, and it's tough in the private sector," Romney told a crowd in Iowa last month. He contrasted his experience with that of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards, saying that "they want to run the largest enterprise in the world, public or private, and yet not one of them has ever even run a corner store."
When told Edwards had run a law firm, Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom replied "suing people isn't management."
-- Perry Bacon Jr.