The leading architect of the Iraq war will be on Capitol Hill for a private chat with House Republicans on Tuesday, just as Congress is grappling again with how involved the United States should be in the region’s snowballing unrest.
Yes, as in Dick Cheney, one of the war’s most ardent defenders. The former vice president was invited by the GOP’s campaign arm to speak at its first weekly conference meeting since Congress’s five-week break, a House GOP official confirmed.
The get-together was originally intended to focus more on politics than on policy, and it’s being held at Republican National Committee headquarters. And so it’s pure coincidence that Cheney will be the guest speaker on the eve of a likely debate on Iraq.
While the rationale for the 2003 war has been largely debunked, Cheney maintains that the goals of Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda were one and the same. (In July, our very own Fact Checker, Glenn Kessler, gave that claim three out of a possible four Pinocchios.)
With President Obama expected to lay out a strategy for fighting the Islamic State on Wednesday, Cheney certainly might have a few words of wisdom to share on the topic of killing terrorists.
In recent interviews, Cheney has issued dire warnings about ignoring the militant group, saying inaction will result in an attack worse than 9/11. Former president Bill Clinton has said Cheney created the Islamic State by starting the war in the first place.
Trying to reach the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs? No problem. The Loop is a full-service operation.
New Secretary Robert McDonald’s cellphone number is: 513-509-8454. And whatever you do, call him Bob. Not Robert, not Bobby. Just Bob.
Our colleague Emily Wax-Thibodeaux asked him for the number at a news conference Monday, and, with cameras rolling, he gave it out. That’s unusual, if not unprecedented, in a town where government PR staffs vet all calls and interview requests, often through a process that can take weeks.
“Call me Bob,” he said, drawing a pyramid on the back of a placard that put veterans at the top and himself at the bottom. “I’m Bob. We want an organization where everyone is called by the first name.”
At his first news conference since touring VA facilities across the country, the former Procter & Gamble CEO recalled several times when he handed out his cellphone number to Senate and House committee members. He also gave it to a veteran he’d met on a plane who said his daughter, also a veteran and a medical student, said she would not work at the agency because of its current problems.
“I got her number and called her three times, and I think we are on the way to visiting her school,” McDonald said. “And I gave her mine.”
We tried the number and got voice mail. But Brett Mills, president of CareNet Inc. in Anchorage, Alaska, wrote Wax-Thibodeaux after her Loop blog post Monday to thank her for the secretary’s number.
“We used to subcontract homecare services for veterans for the VA,” Mills wrote, but “we stopped last year because the VA doesn’t like to pay its bills.”
Mills said he’s tried to reach “Bob” before, as well as his predecessors, without success. “We have been chasing this debt around since spring of 2012. No accountability.”
“Well, ‘Bob’ answered his phone!” Mills wrote, listened to a “brief summary of our problem with the VA, and seemed to listen. I am sending him information regarding our situation.”
“Thank you for an outstanding and helpful piece,” he added.
As we said, full service.
With Congress fresh from its five weeks off, the State Department is back to shaming the Senate for its failure to confirm ambassadors, noting that 10 nominees have been waiting 400 days or longer for confirmation.
The slow pace and uncertainty caused the administration to send Ross Wilson, who was ambassador to Turkey under President George W. Bush, back to Ankara, pending action on Obama’s pick, career Foreign Service officer John Bass. Bass has been waiting nearly 100 days.
Turkey is a NATO ally and a critical player in the battle against the Islamic State, with borders on both Syria and Iraq.
At the top of the list, waiting 400-plus days, are Thomas Daughton for Namibia and John Hoover for Sierra Leone. Hoover would be running the embassy in the country at the center of the Ebola outbreak.
Of the 10 longest-waiting, only one is a mega-bundler, Noah Mamet for Argentina, who ran into trouble for never having been there. Of the rest, eight are career Foreign Service officers and one is career military.
It’s been a bit of a love fest between former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and Hillary Clinton recently. They shared a stage at the groundbreaking of the State Department’s new Diplomacy Center, Clinton wrote a glowing review of Kissinger’s new book, and then President Richard Nixon’s foreign policy adviser offered an (almost) endorsement for a Clinton presidency.
Kissinger was asked Saturday on NPR whether Clinton would make a good president.
“I know Hillary as a person. And as a personal friend, I would say yes, she’d be a good president,” he said. “But she’d put me under a great conflict of interest if she were a candidate, because I intend to support the Republicans.”
NPR reporter Scott Simon asked him to put politics aside.
“Yes, I’d be comfortable with that president,” Kissinger said. He added: “You’ve just lost me I-don’t-know-how-many friends.”
Twitter: @KamenInTheLoop, @ColbyItkowitz