Inside the Capitol

Thursday, June 11, 2009

6-15 Of Pens and Swords

Syndicated Columnist

SANTA FE -- The pen is mightier than the sword. The adage has been used for decades, especially by journalists. It makes us feel good. But does anyone believe it? Certainly today's warmongers don't.
Evidently President Barack Obama doesn't, either. Midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy have been told to leave their swords at home for graduation ceremonies at which Obama will speak. But cell phones and texting will be allowed.
But, surprise, surprise, North Korea apparently does believe it. Remember those two fighter pilots whom North Korean authorities claimed wandered into their airspace? Gov. Bill Richardson brought them back.
Now North Korea is holding two female reporters that it claims wandered into their country. No one has been able to negotiate their release and they have been sentenced to 12 years of hard labor at a prison camp.
So How come Gov. Richardson hasn't been sent to negotiate their release? He has the track record. He has contacts over there. They even came here to see him early the first month that he was governor. He's a natural.
But, once again we seem to have another Richardson snub. Is he poison to the Obama administration? Is it Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who has the say on that. Would his trip come out of her budget? Maybe she hasn't forgiven him yet. Certainly her husband hasn't.
Speaking of paying for trips, who paid for Richardson and entourage to go to Rome to be honored by Pope Benedict XVI for signing New Mexico's death penalty repeal? The governor's office says the state paid the expenses for Richardson and Eric Witt, his deputy chief of staff.
But Richardson takes a security force wherever he goes. We're also told that Richardson met with Italian tourism officials and international reporters to promote travel to New Mexico.
* * *
I didn't give President Obama a grade on his first 100 days in office. He made so many changes and spent so much money that it made my head spin. It will take a lot longer than 100 days to determine how he's doing.
I thought it was interesting that his press secretary, Robert Gibbs, gave him a B-plus, saying they are proud of what they're doing but there is room for improvement.
What I can say about Obama is that I now like him better as a person than I did during the campaign. John McCain was my guy back then. I felt comfortable with him. He was my age. He was funny and likable. I admired his service to our country. We thought alike in so many ways. And I thought Cindy would make a great first lady.
Somehow, despite all his ads and speeches, I didn't feel like I knew Obama. His words were just platitudes to me. I couldn't figure out who he was other than a great organizer and good speaker. Although he inspired so many people, it just didn't take with me.
I appreciated his intelligence, thoughtfulness and deliberative nature but I just couldn't relate to him or Michelle. Maybe it was mostly a generational thing. I mainly wished he was Colin Powell, whom I would follow anywhere.
Now, I like Obama as a person and the first lady too. I finally see them as real people and a real family. I appreciate Obama's openness, his willingness to have news conferences, his calm manner and his practice of not talking down to foreign nations. It is refreshing to see him think through questions in public. I wish him well. But I'm still worried.
* * *
The capture of a couple who had been spying for Cuba for years as Agent 202 and Agent 123 brings back fond memories of the old "Get Smart" TV spoof of James Bond movies, with Agent 86 and Agent 99. Barbara Feldon, who was Agent 99, has lived in Santa Fe for years and is as charming as ever.
MON, 6-15-09

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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