Wednesday, February 04, 2009

If All Else Fails, Secretary of State, Dial East Asia

For once, the English-language media—and a wire service at that—trailed the Japanese media on political events in the United States, as AP reported that Japan, South Korea and China were to be slated for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s first overseas visit. To be fair, Clinton’s first trip to Japan had first appeared in a U.S. media story as a throwaway quote regarding the need to assuage Japanese fears of abandonment. But what really caught my eye was this:
Asia has not been a traditional first destination for new secretaries of state, who often start their official travels in the capitals of longtime U.S. allies in Europe or in the Middle East.

But with Vice President Joe Biden heading to Europe this week for a security conference in Germany and special envoy George Mitchell having already visited the Middle East, Clinton has been largely freed from the strictures of past practice.
And don’t forget Richard Holbrooke.

The White House should hire this Matthew Lee as head of protocol; someone has to prevent this from turning into a game of musical chairs. After all, any journalist who has the tact to write a line like largely freed from the strictures of past practice deserves—in both senses of the word—the job.

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