As someone who grew up in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Danae has been a Bill and Hillary watcher for more than 40 years, really since Hillary gave her first stump speech at her Wellesley graduation. Hillary was outspoken and quite direct that day. For better or worse, she still is.
Hillary’s new book “Hard Choices” (definitely a Hillary book, not a Hillary&Bill book) shows how she developed her political skills along the way starting with her stint as a young Congressional legal counsel, to First Lady of Arkansas, the U.S., then a member of Congress and finally as Secretary of State, where she looked at every foreign affairs decision on an issue-by-issue basis.
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote last Sunday that “Madame Secretary made a difference.” Kristof further noted that Hillary achieved a great deal and left a hefty — but different – legacy. She vastly expanded America’s diplomatic agenda and rebalanced our relations in Asia. Yet Hillary also focused our allies on traditional domestic policy issues like poverty, the environment, education and family planning.
Oftentimes Hillary had a more hawkish approach than President Obama regarding the use of American-supported force overseas. She’s a policy nerd, knowledgeable about microfinance and early childhood intervention. Not a bad combination for someone who is considering — just considering, she still says — a run for the presidency.
“Hard Choices” shows Hillary’s foreign policy experience without showcasing a grandiose vision on foreign policy. She systematizes her observations by country, region and issue after having visited 112 countries and traveled over a million miles.
Hillary is also human and down to earth. In the book, she relates a story about when President Obama called her aside before an international gathering for what she thought was going to be a serious, confidential talk, only to have the President whisper in her ear, “You’ve got something in your teeth.”
This book is good reading for anyone truly interested in the next presidential campaign. Whether she is a candidate or not, Hillary will be a player. We intend to keep “Hard Choices” on the nightstand all summer.
Clinton’s book tour already has a campaign feel. We don’t believe New Orleans is yet on her list, after she spoke to the Automobile Dealers here this winter. But there are several folk in Louisiana who know Hillary very well including Democratic insider Jim Carville, the Kennedy-connected Reggie family of Crowley, and Frances Gray Fayard, who was a top Democratic party fundraiser prior to her move here.
TAXPAYERS COULD BE BIG WINNERS IN AIRPORT CONTRACT REBID
The Landrieu Administration eleventh hour decision to rebid the $500 million airport construction contract was a smart face-saving move for Mitch. It avoided a lengthy lawsuit and will give both teams a chance to regroup. As we stated previously, Mayors usually get their way. Though a big financial gap existed in the last bids, that might not happen in this next round which could affect the all-important scoring. Even with the process being slowed down, the taxpayers could come out the winners as both teams tighten up their proposals.
ANOTHER FEASIBLE IDEA NOW NEEDED FOR CHARITY HOSPITAL
Mayor Landrieu also made a smart financial decision to cancel plans to renovate Charity Hospital at this time. Pres Kabacoff had a great idea about the future use for Charity. Perhaps he will come up with another one. But with the current scramble to fund two consent decrees, the dollars were just not there. If funding is in place, Civil District Court can now move forward with their plans for a new building, which will certainly please all the lawyers in town.
CONGRESSMAN STEVE SCALISE POISED FOR GREATER REPUBLICAN LEADERSHIP
We’ve always thought Steve Scalise – who represents only a small part of Orleans Parish – was a stand-up fellow and nice guy destined to play a big role in the Republican Party. Chairing the Republican Study Committee has been a good start. Scalise will bust his butt the next two weeks to gather up enough support to become House Majority Whip. Louisiana would definitely benefit if Scalise won the election. We wish him luck!
Allan Katz spent 25 years as a political reporter and columnist at The Times-Picayune, and is now editor of the Kenner Star and host of several televsion programs, including the Louisiana Newsmaker on Cox Cable. Danae Columbus is executive producer of Louisiana Newsmaker, and has had a 30-year career in public relations, including stints at City Hall and the Dock Board. They both currently work for the Orleans Parish School Board. Among the recent candidates who have been represented by their public relations firm are City council members Stacy Head and Jared Brossett, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne and former Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell.