At the packed-to-the-rafters brunch preceding Nancy Pelosi's formal swearing in, Melinda and I ran into Wes Clark (and I mean that literally; like I said, it was packed). Clark was really angry about what he'd read in this column by UPI Editor at Large Arnaud de Borchgrave. In the piece, which Clark quickly forwarded to my BlackBerry from his Trio, de Borchgrave details Bibi Netanyahu leading the charge to lobby the Bush administration to take out Iran's nuclear facilities, and paints U.S. air strikes against Iran in 2007/08 as all-but-a-done deal.
"How can you talk about bombing a country when you won't even talk to them?" said Clark. "It's outrageous. We're the United States of America; we don't do that. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the military option is off the table -- but diplomacy is not what Jim Baker says it is. It's not, What will it take for you boys to support us on Iraq? It's sitting down for a couple of days and talking about our families and our hopes, and building relationships."
When we asked him what made him so sure the Bush administration was headed in this direction, he replied: "You just have to read what's in the Israeli press. The Jewish community is divided but there is so much pressure being channeled from the New York money people to the office seekers."
At one point Melinda reminded him that she was taking down everything he said (a fact that would have been hard to miss, since she was taking notes on a not-inconspicuous legal pad). His response: 'Yes, I know." For Clark, this is the biggest foreign policy issue facing the U.S. "I'm worried about the surge," he said. "But I'm worried about this even more."
We also ran into Terry McAuliffe at the brunch. As always, the former DNC chair was buoyant -- excited about a new book he's written called What a Party, that he proudly said was going to launch on Jan. 23 with appearances on Today and Jon Stewart, and equally upbeat about the presidential prospects of Hillary Clinton. A classic glass-half-full kind of guy, McAuliffe said that it would be good for Hillary to have to face Edwards and Obama in the primaries because, if she made it through a tough primary fight. "It would make her that much stronger in a general election campaign," he said.
Noting the newly compressed primary schedule -- with Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and South Carolina coming in the first two weeks (and California trying to move up too) -- McAuliffe said the Democratic nominee could be decided by February 5th (which is pretty amazing, when you remember that in 1968 Bobby Kennedy didn't even enter the race until March).
Jane Harman was also at the brunch, looking phenomenally fit and holding a bottle of water (you can always spot a Californian in a DC crowd; they're the ones carrying their own water. So to speak). Harmon is also working on a new book; it's about how Democrats can become the new national security party (Authorship has been a recurring theme this week. It seems like everyone has a new book -- McAuliffe, Harman... and, at last night's dinner for Sherrod Brown, Chuck Schumer mentioned his upcoming release, The 50 Percent Solution: Winning Back the Middle Class One Family at a Time, and Connie Shultz, Brown's wife and a HuffPost Fearless Voices blogger, told us about her campaign memoir, ...And His Lovely Wife, which comes out in June.)
Noticing how relaxed and comfortable Harman appeared, we couldn't resist asking her about the article in today Washington Post, headlined "Passed Over By Pelosi, Harman Doesn't Get Even. She Gets Mad." Harman shook her head and insisted it was time for the media to stop trying to paint everything Pelosi does as "a catfight."
Got that WaPo? Time for a new story line.