By Casey Moffett-Chaney of Portland, Oregon. Casey is the director and senior minister of The Portland Center for Spiritual Growth, and the author of several self-help books and publications.
"Valerie Plame's Husband"
That's how he introduced himself to me when I walked into the room. Several of us who blog regularly were invited to meet with him face to face during his visit to Portland, Oregon on Hillary Clinton's behalf.
"Him" is Joseph C. Wilson, IV, or "Joe" Wilson as he prefers to be called. Wilson, formerly a United States Foreign Service diplomat posted to African nations and Iraq, also served as Special Assistant to President Bill Clinton, and as Senior Director for African Affairs on the United States National Security Council. Today Ambassador Wilson is the CEO of JC Wilson International Ventures, consulting in the field of strategic management and international-business development. He joined Jarch Capital, LLC in January 2007 as vice chairman, to advise in areas of Africa considered politically sensitive.
Joe Wilson's "claim to fame" as he referred to it was his op-ed published in the New York Times, four months following the invasion of Iraq, titled "What I Didn't Find in Africa," referring to his 2002 CIA investigation into the purchase or attempted purchase, by Iraq, of uranium yellowcake from Niger. He concluded that the George W. Bush administration tweaked intelligence to "exaggerate the Iraqi threat," implying quite clearly that Bush lied us into the war in Iraq. This did not set well with "W" and "Dicky."
One week following the publication of his article in the NYT, Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, a covert CIA operative, was outed by Robert Novak in his Washington Post column. Scooter Libby was subsequently charged and found guilty of 4 out of 5 federal crimes relating to the leak of Plame's identity. His prison term was commuted by W, though the ongoing civil suit, Wilson v. Cheney, which was dismissed on jurisdictional grounds, is still on appeal.
I found him to be friendly, down to earth, humble, and willing to take as many pictures with us as we wanted. Most of all, I felt I was in the presence of a man who intimately understands international politics, and who recognizes those leaders who can work effectively within them.
"Why support Hillary?" we asked.
His response was swift and certain. "Experience matters; no other way around it." He went on to say that she is "easily" the "better candidate based upon an entire generation (that is, a lifetime more than Obama) working with all matters of government," including health care, education, international politics, the economy "and more." Using a military example, he said, "You don't hire a 20 year old to run a platoon."
Ambassador Wilson told us that her "enormous amount of time at the top (meaning her eight years of experience in the White House)" has prepared her for Presidential leadership. Wilson went on to give the example of his own area of expertise, Africa. Referring to Bill Clinton's highly successful 11-day trip to six sub-Saharan African nations in March-April of 1998, Wilson says, "Bill's trip was Hillary's doing." Hillary, he said, had traveled there first to look the situation over, meet with leaders, and visit more than 80 countries. She came back and told Bill in no uncertain terms that he "must go there." Using the strength of her international political understanding, savvy, and influence, coupled with the relationships she had formed while there, she convinced Bill that she was right; he made the trip, and the trip made history.
Wilson emphatically insists that her talent and finesse working with legislators on both sides of the aisle have been greatly understated. He talked about Hillary, the person, the woman he and his wife came to know, trust, and rely upon. When the CIA incident occurred, the stress, exhaustion and fear almost led them to give up the fight. Had it not been for Hillary's personal support and conviction, this country and world "might never have understood what actually happened" (referring to Bush lying us into the war in Iraq). "She said to us, 'You have to stay in this fight because it's not about you.' Our country understands now (about Bush's lies), but wouldn't have if we had given up." He says that Hillary's support and encouragement led them to push through it. "She taught us something very important about not letting our anger get in the way. She said to us, 'Let go of your grievances, keep focussed on the goal, and be prepared to keep arguing for your cause.'"
Concerning Iraq, Wilson says he's been "advising her about Iraq for years," and that she understands precisely what's at stake in getting us out. He told us that Hillary has said we must get out of Iraq because the war is illegal, and we have a broken army--morale, equipment, operations and personnel. She knows we must:
- continue our awareness of the war on terror as we move troops
- guaranty the security of Israel
- secure petroleum while working toward less need of it
- hold the Iraqi government to their agreements and responsibilities
- watch the international political process - they are involved as well
- sustain Presidential leadership
- engage the senior Presidential envoy
She was the one US Senator asked by the top US "brass" to participate in a meeting held to determine a way to fix our broken military. "They said she is the 'best prepared of any politician they know.' She understands the arcane details of how to move troops, how to maintain her leadership within the process, and how to remain in her own power when dealing with other countries and making hard decisions."
Wilson knows first hand what the Right Wing machine can dole out, and he says, because of her having dealt with this machine so successfully, she is the best candidate to deal with it and win. "The Republicans have 350 million dollars that they will use to define Obama, and they will use it to define him in ways he can't even imagine."
Regarding Hillary as a Progressive Democrat, Wilson says Hillary has always stood for and fought for progressive programs such as healthcare, education, early childhood education, pro-choice issues, etc. He states emphatically that Hillary is "a fighter who does not get bored with the necessity of getting up every day to win this nomination. Over the years, she has been an exceptional leader, empowering others, and teaching us all how to stay in the ring. There is no evidence that Obama has done anything of major consequence in his Senate experience that makes him any different from any other average politician."
Concerning his personal relationship with Hillary, Wilson states that she has been an amazing friend and strong support to both he and his wife. "When we get together, the first thing she mentions are our kids; we talk about them for a while before any campaign conversation even comes up. She takes Valerie aside for pep talks. 'Don't give up, push through this' she'll say. It would be easy for us to walk away from the campaign and the constant barrage of attention we still get. But we're in this for her because she is the right candidate, and we won't give up."