This morning, Bill Clinton arrived in Burbank, CA with Current TV journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee. In June, the two American journalists were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in North Korea’s notorious prison camps for illegally entering North Korean territory. Yesterday, President Clinton successfully traveled to North Korea for a private but high-profile visit to convince North Korea’s President Kim Jong-il to release the two women. Within 20 hours of Clinton’s landing, the North Korean state-run media announced that the two journalists had been given a special pardon and were allowed to travel back to the United States with Clinton. Ling and Lee both work for Current TV, a San Francisco-based media company that was co-founded by former Vice President Al Gore. The two journalists were arrested on March 17 near the North Korean border with China while they were investigating for a story about women and human trafficking. Their arrest and impending imprisonment quickly became a high-profile story within the American media perhaps due to the rising tensions between the international community and North Korea, Al Gore’s involvement and the fact that Laura Ling is related to high-profile journalist, Lisa Ling who was campaigning on her sister’s and Euna Lee’s behalf.
While almost everyone is relieved that the two women are finally safe and home with their families, Clinton’s visit has drawn some criticism from the right. The notoriously lie-filled North Korean state media released a statement that President Clinton had apologized to Kim on the journalists’ behalf, which angered many conservatives who claim that it was tantamount to negotiating with terrorists (never mind that the insane Kim isn’t a terrorist since he is a foreign leader operating within his own country). A senior White House official and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton deny that President Clinton apologized for anything and reiterated that the mission was a humanitarian effort, not a diplomatic one so Clinton could not have asked for, or offered anything other than the release of the women. Clinton was asked by Al Gore and Hillary, who were both working hard behind the scenes to get the women released, after North Korea signaled a desire to have President Clinton act as a special envoy. So essentially it sounds like Kim was willing to pardon the two women if Clinton just came over and took a photo with him. Haha, Kim Jong-il is basically just a teenage fangirl! Except he is, uh, playing with people’s lives. Although, looking back, Kim’s mancrush on Clinton might explain North Korea’s epic failed zing on Hillary when she criticized their nuclear program. (Seriously, was that supposed to be a joke? No wonder no one smiles in North Korea.) Regardless, hooray! Ling and Lee are safe!
Clinton’s visit to North Korea didn’t just secure the release of two journalists, it also brought in new questions about the former President’s role under Obama’s administration. Some bloggers and journalists made light of Hillary Clinton and wondered if she was jealous of being overshadowed by her husband:
Maybe it was some clever North Korean revenge plot, giving the limelight to Daddy to punish Mommy. Just as Hillary muscled her way back into the spotlight, moving past her broken elbow and grabbing the focus from her bevy of peacock envoys, she was blown off the radar screen again by an even more powerful envoy: the one she lives with.
It was a moment unique in the annals of diplomacy. Bill was being hailed as a dazzling statesman who might have changed the stormy weather between the U.S. and North Korea, just as Hillary was beginning an 11-day trip to Africa designed to highlight the subjects she most cares about: do-gooder development and women’s issues.
The one in charge of world affairs disappeared from the news all day on Tuesday. The one out of office dominated the news. His plane is rolling down the runway in Pyongyang with the two pardoned women on board? Zowie!
Oh, MoDo. Because surely, if there is anyone who is going to be jealous of their husband, it is the wife of a former President, right? And you know how we women always be getting jealous every time a man overshadows us by doing something we asked them to do. Why does everyone want to imagine Hillary as being some sort of green-faced shrew who is always getting angry with her famous husband? Something tells me that if she was willing to let go all of his many, many public infidelities, she is probably pretty easy going when it comes to Bubba. But painting Hillary as a mean hard-ass is easy, I guess. People’s opinions about Hillary and Bill’s relationship aside, I don’t know if this mission will paint Clinton as a new key figure in the Obama administration. This was a situation that leaned heavily in favor of Clinton’s support, but it is hard to tell if something like this will happen again. Time will tell how Clinton adjusts to life with another famous Democrat in the White House.