Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Full Clinton Press

When I arrived home from the Clinton rally and checked my email, I had received a notice from the Clinton campaign that Ambassador Joseph Wilson would be speaking today at PSU from noon until 1:30. To entice turnout, they promised pizza, but I was late and missed out, which was just as well since MAYAs had a group get-together tonight with pizza. I love pizza, but I'm at the age where I'm wanting to eat less of it.

Anyhow, I was shocked by another Clinton campaign event. This one happened in the same room where Chelsea Clinton spoke two weeks ago. And I even saw three familiar faces from the rally last night. I guess I know who's serious about the Clinton campaign.

I had my own reasons to want to see this one. Again, I have a personal connection (I'm telling you, it's the whole "Six Degrees of Me" thing--forget Kevin Bacon!). In 1997, when I served a year in the Naval Reserves, I had to do my two week duty at a joint military base in Vaihingen, Germany (near Stuttgart). In fact, I only did a year in the reserves for a free trip to Germany (shameless, I know). They put us up in a nice hotel (four stars, I think; with restaurant and pool). Besides working every day doing whatever lame work they passed on to reservists, I happened to be there during Ambassador Wilson's last week. I had talked to him then because he had once served as a staff member for Congressman Gore and he had a career as a diplomat, which was something I was very interested in at the time. The way I saw it, Joseph Wilson had THE CAREER I had hoped to have for myself...including serving in various African nations. So, I sought his advice in what direction I needed to take, as well as to learn his opinions of what Gore was like to work for since that was my goal.

I had forgotten about him in the years since until 2004 when he came out with his book, "The Politics of Truth." I bought it and skimmed through it, shocked to come across a paragraph where he mentioned serving as the ambassador at CINC in Germany, which jogged my memory that this was indeed the guy I had met then. When I met him in 1997, I didn't realize then that he was the same guy who was famous for being the last American diplomat to meet with Saddam Hussein prior to the first Gulf War. Because of him, I'm "two degrees separated from Saddam Hussein" (see how small and connected our world is?).

Now, he's famous for being the victim of a petty administration with a vendetta against anyone who exposed their lies leading up to the war in Iraq. He was the one who went to Niger to investigate the claims that Saddam had sought yellow-cake uranium to use in nuclear weapons. When he wrote an essay "What I Didn't Find in Africa", the Administration made him an example to strike fear into any government employee what will happen if they speak the truth. Wilson's wife was exposed as a CIA operative, which is illegal. Even George H.W. Bush is on record for saying that people who expose CIA agents are traitors, the lowest of the low, not fit to be Americans. Hmmm...I wonder if he still thinks that after his son has allowed it to happen, and all for petty reasons.

Ambassador Wilson spoke in a Q & A type session, in which he started with pre-written questions about the whole scandal involving his wife. Even though I don't agree with the CIA, I still think that exposing an agent who was working to keep our nation secure from terrorism was a criminal act that deserves no less than the death penalty. And that it was done for purely political reasons of petty revenge because her husband exposed a lie is beyond treason. There's truly nothing lower than what the Bush regime did to Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame.

This being a political event sponsored by the Clinton campaign, Wilson spoke about Clinton and why she's better than Obama in terms of experience. When we came in, we were given note cards in which to write questions. They didn't ask my question, unfortunately, but when I heard the questions asked, they all related to his views on Hillary regarding how she'd act as president in foreign policy issues. Of course, I should've known that. My question was: "What are the chances that President Bush and Vice President Cheney will be brought up on criminal charges after they leave the White House?" It wasn't asked by the questioner, but Wilson said something in a long-winded answer to another question that basically answered mine. The answer to his question pretty much hit the jackpot with me in why I will most likely switch my vote to Hillary Clinton in the Oregon primary on May 20th.
Joseph Wilson with his wife, Valerie Plame

Basically, what Wilson said is that when Hillary is president, she will send a group of envoys to the capitals of the world to deliver a personal message along the lines of: "the era of cowboy diplomacy is over. The America you loved is back. And if you have any cause to investigate acts of war crimes committed by the previous administration, we will not stand in your way."

When he said that, I got chills up and down my spine. That's the answer I wanted to hear. I can understand why Hillary might not want to be so public with it, but something needs to be done. We simply cannot let the Bush Administration get away with their crimes, especially since President Clinton was impeached for lying about a sexual affair while other presidents (always Republican ones) have walked into history with their reputations in tact. This cannot stand, especially when Bush has been the worst of all the presidents we've had so far.

I could see Ambassador Wilson being Hillary's Secretary of State (Bill Richardson has pretty much kissed off his chances of becoming Secretary of State or Vice President if Hillary is the Democratic nominee). And I'm willing to bet that Wesley Clark will be Hillary's Secretary of Defense.

After the official questions (read from cards) were over, a couple people got to ask questions outright, and one guy pressed Wilson on Hillary's claim to be under sniper fire in Bosnia when videos showed otherwise. Wilson proved himself to be ever the diplomat, claiming not to have seen the video footage and saying that all briefings for anyone going into Bosnia had expressed the possibility of sniper fire, which could've confused her. I don't buy it and neither did the guy who asked the question, but Ambassador Wilson was the wrong person to press on that issue.

When the session was over, I got his autograph on my copy of his book. I've been wanting to read it these past few years, but I knew that his wife would have hers, so I wanted to read them one after the other. I still haven't bought hers, but it looks to be a lot funnier (because it has many words blacked out on purpose). I also told him that we had met during his last week at Vaihingen, Germany. I can't believe that was eleven years ago.

And man, I'm on a roll. Thursday began a chain of amazing personal connections coming to the fore. I'll try to get to what I did on Thursday evening (a booksigning by an aunt-in-law of my friend Matt Baker) and Friday evening (an awesome movie featuring my favourite actress whom I'd love to meet). I hope this continues on a frequent basis over the upcoming week. I love being connected in this small world of ours. And I'm really impressed by how active the Clintons are in winning my vote. This is why I love a competitive primary. The Clintons want my vote and are earning it through their easy connectivity, while Obama doesn't need my vote. Honestly, I don't mind being subjected to the "full Clinton press."

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