Washington is slipping into full vacation mode.
President Obama’s on Martha’s Vineyard. And Secretary of State John Kerry, coming back from a quick swing to Bogota, Colombia, and Brasilia — not even bothering to stop in Rio — looks to be easing out of town till Labor Day with a fairly light schedule on Thursday.
He’s got a couple of substantive meetings in the morning. There is a 10 a.m. with Agency for International Development Administrator Raj Shah. (Hey! Don’t forget to ask him whether he’s wrapped up that reconstruction program in Haiti, begun after the January 2010 earthquake. We hear former secretary Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, is still checking in at Foggy Bottom as a “special government employee,” working on Haiti matters. Dunno about her old parking spot.)
Then there’s a 10:45 a.m. with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.
In the afternoon Kerry heads up one floor from his seventh-floor office to the lovely Benjamin Franklin reception room to host a 1 p.m. swearing-in ceremony for his former Senate aide Danny Sepulveda as coordinator for international communications and information policy.
An hour later, he repeats the journey to host the swearing-in of Matt Barzun as ambassador to the Court of St. James’s (a.k.a. Britain). And an hour after that, it’s back up for the ceremony for Rufus Gifford to be ambassador to Denmark.
Can’t make all three? Okay, here’s what you do. Since the drinks and munchies are paid for by the ambassadors-to-be, go for the one likely to have the finest wines and exquisite canapes. Our pick would be Barzun, a mega-bundler and Obama’s national finance chair. (No pigs in a blanket here.)
The weather is going to be delightful, so make absolutely sure you step out onto the balcony for one of the finest views in town, stunning panoramas down the Potomac. Don’t forget to get there super early — security lines, slow elevators and all that.
An item in Wednesday’s column noted a newly transcribed Aug. 11, 1971, tape of President Richard Nixon lamenting to aide H.R. Haldeman that “August is really a dull month.”
Nixon, according to the transcript of the conversation released by our friends at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, said: “I was just looking at the news the other night. All dull. The only thing — biggest news is Killebrew hitting .500.”
Yikes! The e-mails pointing out the error started arriving around 6 a.m. Nixon was not talking about some current hot streak that 13-time Major League Baseball all-star Harmon Killebrew was on, we were told. Nixon was referring to the news that the Minnesota Twins slugger, formerly with the Washington Senators, had crushed his 500th home run on Aug. 10, 1971, becoming the 10th player in history to reach that milestone.
So there shouldn’t be that little decimal point before 500. The Miller Center is correcting the transcript.
In all fairness, we should have spotted the miscue. (On the other hand, we’re long-suffering Cleveland fans.)
Color us surprised: It seems Sen. James Inhofe is none too pleased with the military’s plan to allow same-sex spouses time off to get married, and to allow their spouses to get health-care and other benefits, a policy it developed after the recent Supreme Court decision granting federal benefits to married gay couples.
The Oklahoma Republican, the ranking GOP member of the Armed Services Committee, issued a scathing statement in response to news reports of a leaked memo indicating that the Defense Department was considering allowing gay members of the military up to 10 days so they could travel to states where it’s legal for them to get hitched — and then treat their spouses as they would any other military family.
Inhofe took umbrage at the fact that the Pentagon didn’t brief Congress on the matter. (Would it be fair to say that the military took a “don't ask, don’t tell” approach to lawmakers?) “This is another example of the administration leaking information to the press while being unable to find the time to brief Congress,” he said in the statement.
But he also said the Pentagon just can’t give out vacation days willy-nilly, since that’s determined by law.
Here’s the real rub: “This administration is eroding our military’s historical apolitical stance by using it as their activism arm for their liberal social agenda,” he concludes.
Inhofe’s objections apparently didn’t put a hitch in the Pentagon’s plans. Officials introduced the new policy on Wednesday, and though it didn’t spell out the 10 days of leave that early news reports suggested, it suggested there’d be time given for service members to travel to exchange their vows.
Last we knew, former colleague Jonathan Finer was working for The Washington Post in Gaza and Lebanon. He also covered the invasion of Iraq, embedded with the Marines, and spent 18 months in Baghdad.
He moved to the White House four years ago in the chief of staff’s office, then worked for Vice President Biden as Mideast adviser and speechwriter and more recently at the National Security Council. We’re hearing he’s en route to the State Department to be deputy chief of staff to Secretary John Kerry.
Bill Danvers, a longtime House, Senate and Clinton National Security Council aide who more recently worked for former CIA chief and defense secretary Leon Panetta and has been deputy chief of staff at State, is said to be headed to Paris — a far cry from Foggy Bottom — as deputy secretary general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, where he had worked after leaving the Clinton administration.
With Emily Heil