We are bedeviled by what Joe Biden would assuredly call "but buddies". I'm wearily familiar with all those civilizational sell-outs who begin "Of course, I'm in favor of free speech but..." Whatever follows the "but" means the bit before the "but" is not true.
Still, it's a riskier rhetorical device to try before a live crowd. At AIPAC yesterday, Susan Rice acknowledged that there were those who wanted Iran to forgo all domestic nuclear enrichment capacity. At which the crowd cheered and indeed rose to its feet. The huzzahs lasted long enough for TV viewers to study in some depth the expression of amused condescension on the National Security Advisor's face, and their volume was sufficient to drown out the first of her three "buts".
And then she resumed: "But... But... But... as desirable as that would be it is neither realistic nor achievable."
As I wrote two years ago:
In Geneva, the participants came to the talks with different goals: The Americans and Europeans wanted an agreement; the Iranians wanted nukes. Each party got what it came for.
And so it has proved. Susan Rice is telling us Iran is going to get a bomb, with or without a deal. So, in that case, why bother with a deal?
Because, if Iran were to go nuclear unilaterally, it might risk giving the impression that America is no longer relevant, merely a spectator in world affairs. Whereas, if Iran goes nuclear under a "deal", well, America's still a player, still in the game.
The truth is that whatever emerges on March 23rd will be an American deal in the same sense as the current attempt to re-take Tikrit from ISIS is an American operation. That's the impression you would have got listening to news reports yesterday, but in fact that too is another unilateral Iranian fait accomplis. The Iraqi Army is being directed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, and they've decided they don't need US air support.
When she wasn't triple-butting, Susan Rice offered AIPAC mainly a massive pile-up of tedious clichÃ©s: "We have Israel's back, come hell or high water." As the Iraqi government could tell you, when Washington has your back, it helps to have someone else to call.
Strange times. Barack Obama regards himself as the biggest most glamorous star in the world but has managed to reduce the country he leads to a bit-player.
~Meanwhile, what of the President-in-Waiting? The New York Times reports that, as Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton did not use a government email address but instead conducted all official business through a personal email account:
Mrs. Clinton did not have a government email address during her four-year tenure at the State Department. Her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act...
Her expansive use of the private account was alarming to current and former National Archives and Records Administration officials and government watchdogs, who called it a serious breach.
"It is very difficult to conceive of a scenario â€” short of nuclear winter â€” where an agency would be justified in allowing its cabinet-level head officer to solely use a private email communications channel for the conduct of government business," said Jason R. Baron, a lawyer at Drinker Biddle & Reath who is a former director of litigation at the National Archives and Records Administration.
A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton, Nick Merrill, defended her use of the personal email account and said she has been complying with the "letter and spirit of the rules."
Under federal law, however, letters and emails written and received by federal officials, such as the secretary of state, are considered government records and are supposed to be retained so that congressional committees, historians and members of the news media can find them.
Which explains why Mrs Clinton decided to bypass the government email system. What the Times calls her "personal" email account is, in fact, a "secret" email account, created explicitly to put her beyond the scrutiny of mere humdrum cabinet secretaries. Bill and Hillary have always operated on the principle that rules are for the little people, and they see no reason why that should change for the second Clinton Presidency.