Editors Note: I have seen him speak in person and he’s so engaging that I might have a man crush on him.
Today (or yesterday depending on your time zone) he flew on a “private” diplomatic mission to North Korea to check on the condition (and presumably work for the release) of the two American journalists imprisoned there since April. The Washington Post has a full story of the first day of the trip here.
While reading this I decided to check out the “comments” section on the article and was not surprised to read the usual bickering from both the left and the right regarding Obama and Bush and Carter and even a couple of digs at Nixon (everybody loves a Nixon dig now and again). But what I observed was that we were arguing over our Government’s decision to go to North Korea. Actually arguing over a country that if were citizens there, we couldn’t even have a negative thought about the government less we run the risk of getting dragged off in the middle of the night. It speaks directly to our great country and the freedoms we enjoy.
I highly recommend reading Howard Fineman’s new book, “Thirteen American Arguments” for its insight into this exact situation and why our arguments/discussions/differences make this country so great.
But back to the article and the comments section. After reading everybody’s thoughts I decided to leave one of my own. I end today’s entry with my posting on the Washington Post’s comment board.
The great thing is we (both right and left) can argue for different sides of how to "deal" with the situation in NK. This argument underscores the differences between the US an NK in that we have the freedom to argue (and even deride) our leaders' decisions. Try doing that over in NK and see how fast they drag you away.
It is my opinion that anybody who doesn't believe that the WH/State Dept didn't have a hand in this trip is foolish and short sighted. It's very clearly a "government" trip but with a representative in Clinton who is respected by the people he needs to negotiate with. He is clearly there for the journalists and not to negotiate over nukes. If this trip is successful and the NK’s come back to the table to discuss nukes then that’s a bonus.
The bottom line is we cannot be isolationists to any country any more and our current administration is working hard to remake America’s image abroad which has been (and there is virtually no room for discussion here) tarnished in a post 9/11 world. I applaud this diplomatic mission as it is hopefully a beginning of meaningful dialogue between two nations who share this world.
Lastly a note to people who criticize the Obama administration: take a step back and think before you speak. That’s not to say you are not entitled to your opinion (you most certainly are) but part of the reason we (the country) is in such the mess right now is the constant splintering and bickering. Let’s try to find some common ground both in our national debate and the WaPo discussion boards. I’ll even buy the first round.