Thursday, July 02, 2009

State Spokesman defends Hillary's medical privacy and role in Iraq policy

Thursday, July 2, the Secretary was working from home. During the State Department press briefing, things got a little heated over the Secretary's schedule, her personal medical information and her role in Iraq.

Here is what went down between Ian Kelly and the press:

QUESTION: If I can go back to the earlier point you made about the Secretary staying at home --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- when will she resume a normal schedule at the State Department? What do the doctors say? And then can you confirm why she’s not traveling to Moscow now?

MR. KELLY: Yeah, yeah.

QUESTION: Is it because of the elbow injury, or is there another reason?

MR. KELLY: Well, you all saw her on Monday. She is very actively involved in the operation of the Department and in advocating U.S. policy. She had a very full day yesterday, and she attended a number of meetings, including a few public meetings.

But as far as her medical prognosis, it’s just not the kind of details that I’m prepared to share. I do know that she’s looking forward to resuming a full schedule. I mean, I think she’s got a pretty full schedule anyway. I mean, you see that some days she’s at home and other days she comes to the office. But she looks forward, for example, to going to India and Southeast Asia in a couple weeks.

QUESTION: But that’s it? I mean, she’s just been busy so she’s not going to Moscow? That’s the --

MR. KELLY: Well, there were never any firm plans, necessarily, for her to go to Moscow. I think she called Foreign Minister Lavrov yesterday to tell him that she wasn’t going to go and she looked forward to seeing him soon. But in terms of what’s going to happen in the next few weeks, as I said, she does plan to go to this trip to Asia in a couple weeks, and we hope to have an announcement soon about that.

QUESTION: You’re still not – you’re still not saying why that decision was made for her not to go.

MR. KELLY: Well, I think – she broke her elbow and she is getting therapy.


MR. KELLY: So quite naturally, she’s focused on that, on healing.

QUESTION: That makes sense.

MR. KELLY: Yeah, thanks.

QUESTION: Why won’t you give us those medical details? The White House came out and said it was because of physical therapy --

MR. KELLY: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- intensive physical therapy that would be impossible to maintain --

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: -- over the course of the trip.

MR. KELLY: Right.

QUESTION: First, why won’t you reveal more medical details?

MR. KELLY: Didn’t I just say that? Didn’t I say that she needs to – she needs to pay attention to her elbow, she needs to – she needs to heal?

QUESTION: Is that a doctor recommendation?

MR. KELLY: I don’t know.

QUESTION: Is there a possibility of an additional operation?

MR. KELLY: I doubt it, but I just don’t know.

QUESTION: And can you give us any details about the physical therapy? Is it daily? Supervised? Does she go someplace and have it?

MR. KELLY: I’m just not aware of it.

The press is trying to get all kinds of nasty and in some way try to spin a story that Hillary is being"elbowed" out of the way. And although, I never met a pun I didn't like, I don't think I like this one so much.

Take a look at this exchange during the briefing, where Ian Kelly dismissed a question about whether President Obama's decision to allow Biden to oversee Iraq policy — and to work with the U.S. military and the U.S. ambassador to Iraq help the Iraqis reconcile their political differences — was in a sense "elbowing" the Secretary out of the way:

QUESTION: Any reaction to Vice President Biden in Iraq, and particularly recent comments from the White House that the Vice President is overseeing Iraq policy? And some would say that this is possibly Secretary Clinton’s role to oversee Iraq policy.

MR. KELLY: Yeah, I’m not sure of these comments that you refer to that the Secretary should oversee this.

QUESTION: The White House comments were that Biden was overseeing Iraq policy.

MR. KELLY: Yeah, Charley, I’m just going to refer your question to the White House.

QUESTION: In the context of a number of other issues, her injury, her not going to Moscow, the fact that Biden seems to be taking an ever-increasingly visible active role in these central international policy questions, from where you stand, how do you view it?

MR. KELLY: Well, I – as I’ve said earlier, I see the Secretary as very engaged, very involved. She – as I said, she had a full schedule yesterday. She worked from home today. She sees the President weekly, talks to him often. She met with him yesterday. But in terms of Vice President Biden’s role, I would have to refer you to his office.

Read the full text of the briefing here or watch below:

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