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Saturday, December 07, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"Not so long ago, Hillary Clinton was being lauded as an exemplary secretary of state. After four years and nearly a million miles logged as America’s top diplomat, she stepped down to a torrent of praise. 'The most consequential secretary of state since Dean Acheson,' enthused Google’s Eric Schmidt. 'Stellar,' pronounced Bloomberg’s Margaret Carlson. Even Republican Sen. John McCain, while criticizing her response to the killing of U.S. officials in Benghazi, went out of his way to compliment her 'outstanding' State Department tenure. That was then. When the Atlantic published an admiring 10,000-word profile of Secretary of State John Kerry the other day, the surprise was not so much that the author, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner David Rohde, found himself impressed by the headlong diplomatic forays of the peripatetic Kerry, but the downbeat assessment of Kerry’s much more reserved predecessor. The headline? 'How John Kerry Could End Up Outdoing Hillary Clinton.' A few days later, the New York Times chimed in with an article on the 'tough comparisons with Kerry' Clinton is now facing, summing up the debate as one over whether she was anything more than a 'pantsuit-wearing globe-trotter' in her years as secretary. All of which yields the question: Was Hillary Clinton in fact a good secretary of state, and will her record as a diplomat matter if, as expected, she runs for president in 2016? As Bill Clinton might have said, it depends on what the meaning of good is. Certainly, even many of her most ardent defenders recognize Hillary Clinton had no signal accomplishment at the State Department to her name, no indelible peace sealed with her handshake, no war averted, no nuclear crisis defused. There are few Eric Schmidts out there still willing to make the case for her as an enormously consequential figure in the history of Foggy Bottom. Where the debate tends to rage is over why that is so, especially now that Kerry is taking on diplomatic challenges that Clinton either couldn’t or wouldn’t—from negotiating a potentially historic nuclear deal with Iran to seeking a revived Mideast peace process—and political rivals in both parties return to thinking of Clinton in the hypercharged American political context and not so much as the tireless, Blackberry-wielding face of global glad-handing. I asked an array of smart foreign policy thinkers in both parties to weigh in, and they pretty much all agreed that Clinton was both more cautious and more constrained than Kerry. Their argument is over whether and to what extent that was a consequence of Clinton herself, the limits placed on her by a suspicious and eager-to-make-its-mark first-term White House, or simply it being a very different moment in world politics." (Politico)


"It was Wednesday, I went to Michael’s. I tell myself and others that I do this because it’s helpful in coming up with material for the Diary. This is true, It is also a habit, even a compulsive habit. It’s Dave’s chance to get out in the nabe. All my life, I’ve made a habit of going to one eating place or another, be it for lunch, for breakfast, for dinner. It started in college where we all met at the campus coffee shop, where life began. It’s a kind of a security blanket maybe, where the surroundings and the faces are family, a community. All of these places are troves of all kinds of information – about the people, about other people, about local attitudes, opinions to the eternally curious. Tales from the past pop up, and the boy’s eyes are poppin’ while he sits in the middle of it, and takes it all in. A lot of us are like this. It’s a front row seat at the Human Comedy, as well as an inside track on the vibe. Right now the vibe is deeply affected by, among other trenchant matters, the shorter days. My lunch partner reminded me of this natural meteorological phenomenon. For the next fifteen days, it will progressively get darker earlier. When I was a kid there was a lot of snow on the ground just about at this time. That affected the light too, and picked up the night sky. Of course here in the city the lights are on everywhere all the time. Meanwhile, the Michael’s reservation list, jammed with busy people, out of towners, high mucky-mucks and media moguls as well as their editors, agents, designers and flacks. It was one of those busy Wednesdays where there is a lot of clatter and din. It was crowded and the holiday decorations – swags of pine boughs and big bright red ribbons – made it feel smaller, cozier. Bonnie Fuller was at Table One with eight or ten men and women for one of Fuller’s luncheon confabs where she invites people who are involved in the media industry and actively affecting changes digitally, etc. I asked her why she did this regularly. She said it was a good way to meet and introduce people in other parts of the business; and to learn about what is going on and how it all is changing. All the time. Because tech means change, and media is at the center of it. So now you know. A new kind of networking; a sharing of the wealth. Fuller’s guests were Adam Braun, William Launder of the WSJ; Ed Daman; Valerie Salembier, Asst. Comm. NYPD; Leslie Hall of IcedMedia; Caroline Waxler festival director of Internet Week New York; Jenny McIntosh; Jodi Applegate; Norman Pearlstine who came by and took a seat; and Penske Media Vice Chair, Gerry Byrne." (NYSocialDiary)


 "I’m in an extremely happy state as I write this because a young Englishman flew over the ocean just to have lunch with me and ask for my daughter’s hand in marriage. This is how things used to be done, but alas no longer. I will not reveal his name until it happens—I am very superstitious—but suffice it to say he went to Eton and Oxford, comes from a fine and very old English family, and has a beautiful sister who is happily married (but unfortunately not to me). So in this pleasant state of mind, I’m only going to write about nice things. Up to a point, of course. Such as what good things one reads in the dear old Speccie, which I get one week later than the rest of you. When my son, a German Expressionist painter now living in Paris, besieged me twenty years ago at age twelve to buy a Basquiat, I dismissed his advice as the impressionable foolishness of extreme youth. Basquiat to me was a horrible graffiti showoff for whom Andy Warhol had a crush. I predicted he would disappear the day, night rather, he overdosed. Which he did—overdose—but reading about the arts in these here pages two weeks ago, I learned a thing or two. Like to listen to a 12-year-old who also painted graffiti and had met Mr. B, for starters. I could have bought him for peanuts, and although he still doesn’t race my motor one bit, I could have sold him for 48 million big ones and gone whoring downtown. In this pleasant state of mind, I’m only going to write about nice things. Up to a point, of course. Lesson number one: Listen at times to 12-year-olds. Lack of experience in the ways of the world can be enlightening as well as profitable." (Taki)

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