Everyone knows that Condoleezza Rice holds the all-time record for miles traveled by a secretary of state — 1,059,247.
But if John Kerry keeps up his current travel pace, he’ll easily eclipse her. And he hasn’t slowed up since taking the secretary’s job in February 2013. In those 21 months, he has traveled 602,320 miles, according to the State Department Web site’s tally as of Friday. At that rate, he would log close to 1.4 million miles in a full term.
(Hillary Clinton’s record of 112 countries visited, however, may be tougher to break, since she went to places no secretary had bothered to go since 1989, such as Malawi, Togo, the Cook Islands and Zambia.)
The skies just aren’t as friendly as they used to be.
For example, when Kerry went to the massive gabfest called the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last year, we’re told there was some problem with a transponder that gauges altitude — which is kind of important when flying in the Alps.
Kerry flew to his next stop aboard another aircraft while staff and reporters took a three-hour bus ride. Someone brought the replacement part over and then hitched a ride back to the United States on the government plane.
A few months ago, one of the four Boeing 757s that Kerry uses — he shares them with other Cabinet members, Vice President Biden, Michelle Obama and large congressional fact-finding missions — broke down in Hawaii, the last stop on a round-the-world trip. (Kerry’s party was forced to spend several hours at a beachside hotel, where he and his protective detail went swimming. He flew home commercial — first-class on United.)
He’s not the only one with flying troubles, though.
The release of two Americans jailed in North Korea was delayed by nearly two days because Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s plane broke down, the Associated Press reported Monday.
Clapper expected to arrive in Pyongyang last Thursday, but the repair work in Hawaii — home to a U.S. Air Force base — took a day and a half. He didn’t get to North Korea until late Friday and left with the Americans a day later than planned.
Probably a good thing the plane didn’t break down in North Korea.
Big Bird and his pals over at “Sesame Street” are celebrating their 45th birthday, a reminder that for almost half their lives they’ve had to fight to keep their funding.
Since President Ronald Reagan requested cutting the annual federal subsidy for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in 1981, there has existed an ongoing budget battle over the government’s role in funding public television and radio.
When Republicans won the House in 1994, the new speaker, Newt Gingrich, made privatizing public broadcasting a budget priority the next year. And when the GOP took back the House in 2010, the new majority sought to zero out federal funding again.
And it always comes down to a debate over saving “Sesame Street.” (Though it’s unlikely that cutting the federal appropriation for PBS — which gets 18 percent of its revenue from the government — would kill the beloved children’s program.)
Who can forget GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney dragging “Sesame Street” into the presidential campaign when asked at a debate how he’d cut spending. He said he loved Big Bird — but he’d stop funding PBS.
Will the new Republican majority in the Senate and the expanded one in the House try to slice public broadcasting funding once again? It will probably come up as it often does.
And if the CPB is worried, it’s not saying. In fact, the nonprofit created by Congress is quite pleased that Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) may take over as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. In 2011, Cochran was recognized by the Association of Public Television Stations for supporting public broadcasting.
“We are looking forward to working with the new Republican leadership in the Senate, as well as Democrats and Independents, to ensure continued federal funding for public media,” Michael Levy, CPB executive vice president, told the Loop via e-mail, adding that Cochran “has long been a champion of public media.”
So, sunny days?
Democratic supporters don’t have a lot to celebrate this week, but one environmental super PAC has unlocked the key to having a successful election night: Support candidates expected to win.
The Vote Climate U.S. PAC put out a news release Friday boasting a “stunning rate of victory” despite the “Republican landslide.”
But it’s easy to win when you pick winners.
The super PAC picked six candidates as its “top priority” for 2014. They included Sen. Al Franken, whose seat in Minnesota was rated “likely Democrat”; Gary Peters, a Democrat running for the open Senate seat in Michigan, rated as “leans Democrat”; and Pete Aguilar, a Democrat running for an open congressional seat in California also rated “leans Democrat.”
It picked one “leans Republican” race, Colorado’s 6th Congressional District, where Democrat Andrew Romanoff did lose. Its one tossup race was Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire, the most notable win for Democrats in the midterms, and the other was California’s 52nd District, where Rep. Scott Peters eked out a win.
The super PAC declaring victory in the four (and maybe five) races might just be giving itself a little too much credit. As of the end of September, it hadn’t spent or raised any money, according to OpenSecrets.org data. Instead it launched a social-media campaign “to get out the word on their priority candidates,” according to the release.
Well, it certainly got a higher return on investment than fellow climate activist Tom Steyer, who invested $70 million only to see two-thirds of the candidates he backed lose.
Twitter: @KamenInTheLoop, @ColbyItkowitz.