Polipics: Clinton to the Rescue

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I chose this photo this week because the story seemed to be more about President Clinton’s trip to see ailing Kim Jong Il (he has pancreatic cancer and had a stroke a year ago) than it was about returning the “convicted,” then pardoned journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee of Comment TV. Apparently months of backroom dealing at the White House made this all happen so easily as Clinton was the person the ill Il wanted—and needed—to give his friendless country a positive spin.

With no announcement, Clinton arrived in North Korean in an unmarked plane, yet is greeted with diplomacy and flowers, meets with Il, and brings the women home. (So many opportunities here for bad jokes, I’ll leave them to you.) But having a former president play Dudley Do-Right elevated this medium-hot story to another level.

Ling and Lee had been arrested for illegally entering the country, and convicted of it, but insiders on NPR and other news outlets say Korea never planned on really keeping them locked up, as all things are politics in Korea. This was not a raid on Entebbe. This was political maneuvering at the highest levels—Korea needs friends and we don’t take kindly to having our journalists or citizens jailed. Just what all the talk was about while Clinton visited, as the White House says he not there to negotiate government deals, is yet to be revealed. What do you think? Should Clinton have gone? Did Il get the attention he wanted? Is that ok?

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