Inaugural and Beyond: a Packed Week in D.C. to Remember

Sen. John Kerry confirmed by the Senate as the nation's new secretary of state
Flickr user cliff1066
Sen. John Kerry confirmed by the Senate as the nation's new secretary of state

Has it been only a week?

Has it been only a week since Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday celebration? Has it been only a week since Beyoncé lip synced "The Star-Spangled Banner"? Has it been only a week since the emergence of the Michelle Obama bang?

Only a week -- Monday, Jan. 21, to Monday, Jan. 28. Why that feels like at least a month on the Internet or, conversely, about the length of time that it takes Taylor Swift to meet and break up with her latest boyfriend.

See? How soon we forget. Has it been only a week since the inauguration of the first re-elected African-American U.S. president -- Barack Obama? And did he not reveal himself as a liberal on that occasion in front of thousands and all the gathered conservative pundits in the world? Liberals—and when did that become a name synonymous with far left, socialist and even communist—might beg to differ on just how far left Obama’s inaugural address took him, but that’s why God made pundits of the left and right as an afterthought when he wasn’t thinking too clearly.

A lot can happen in a week -- so much so that we’ve forgotten half of it. Just look at Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who having recovered from the effects of a blood clot took to Capitol Hill to face outraged GOP senators who wanted to interrogate her for alleged State Department failures in the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, where several Americans were killed, including the U.S. ambassador.

While her fellow Democrats on the panel attagirl’d her on her tenure as Secretary of State, a parade of GOP senators grilled her as if they were auditioning for a job on a Torquemada panel, trying hard to pin blame on her or the president’s office for the tragedy. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the newest member of the panel on foreign relations and the nation’s knight errant in crumpled armor, called the Benghazi affair “a coverup” right from the start. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told Clinton that if he had been president, he would have fired her. Clinton gave him one of those “as if” looks. Clinton also battled with an aggressive Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc.

The very next day, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., appeared before the very same panel for the beginning of his confirmation hearing to replace Clinton, greeted with open arms and back slaps. Clinton was next seen Jan. 27 in a twofer interview with President Barack Obama on CBS News's "60 Minutes," a kind of love fest that no amount of questioning or speculation could dent.

Oh, and what was the hot topic on the pundit circuit? With only, what, 1,000 days plus more days or so to go until the next election, there was a big buzz about both Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary Clinton running for president. No rest for the politically wicked—and by that I mean the pundits, not the potential candidates. From an embattled outgoing secretary of state to potential 2016 presidential candidate—all in one week.

While there was testimony on the congressional foreign relations panels, there was little testimony about foreign affairs and predictably, the world went right on going to hell in a waste basket. In Egypt, it was déjà vu all over again, as rioters took the streets on the guilty verdicts over men accused of murder during soccer riots (they were condemned to death), and President Muhamed Morsi—he with the Muslim Brotherhood connection—declared a state of emergency for a month, and dozens were killed in demonstrations in several cities.

Syria, it can be safely assumed was still in the throes of civil war, and a hostage crisis in Algeria, involving Americans, and led by al-Qaeda connected groups, ended with the death of many hostages and terrorists including three Americans. In Mali, French troops reportedly fought al-Qaeda forces there.

North Korea was making threatening noises, and Iran reportedly sent a monkey into space. It was not true that the Iranian president—whose name I cannot spell if my life depended on it—had graciously refused an offer to accompany the monkey.

Here in America, only a few days after the inauguration, the gun battle was already joined with proposals offered by the president, and legislation by a Democratic senator. Guns were on everybody’s mind. Pro-gun forces held a national gun celebration day—filled with gun shows across the country—on the Saturday before the inauguration, which had a huge turnout nation wide but was also the day that at least three accidental shootings occurred at separate gun shows, and a teenager in New Mexico killed five persons, including two children, with an automatic weapon, an ironic tragedy almost completely ignored in the media.

Right-to-Life forces held a march in Washington Jan. 25, with thousands pro-life advocates declaring yet again their opposition to Roe V. Wade and its hoped-for demise.

Gun control activism came from the national theater front Jan. 26, when The NoPassport Theatre Alliance and Press, held a gun control theatre action in D.C., which coincided with a March on Washington for Gun Control led by Arena Stage artistic director Molly Smith and her partner Suzanne Blue Star Boy. The theatre action included participation by Theater J artistic director Ari Roth and other theater groups while Jocelyn Kuritsky, a founding member of the Woodshed Collective of New York, and theater artists Mark Krawczyk and Rachel Zampelli were among the many participants in the march.

Just in case you weren’t paying attention, “Argo,” the Ben Affleck-directed movie about the Iran hostage crisis, is now a good bet to win an Oscar for best picture. The hockey strike is over, the Wizards are winning, people have almost completely forgotten about Lance Armstrong, but not the imaginary girlfriend of the Notre Dame football star, which is just too hard to resist.

And just think: Kerry will be confirmed this week, most likely, after Clinton’s last day in office. The word "bipartisan" is being heard in the land again with talk about a bipartisan bill on immigration being worked on by both sides. President Obama will give his State of the Union speech on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, and former senator Chuck Hagel will go to the Hill to face rough questioning on his confirmation hearing to become Secretary of Defense.

We are only the month of February away from sequestration, not to be confused with Fat Tuesday. And we have not even mentioned the Super Bowl. All of which is, to use my now fave word, amazing.

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Sun, 28 May 2017 22:03:49 -0400

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