Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Over Obama, Clinton Objections, Faleomavaega Casts Deciding Vote on Genocide

Faleomavaega has continued to stake out his maverick course in dealing with the Obama administration by recently voted for a House Foreign Affairs Committee resolution that, if passed by the full House, would put Congress on record calling for Turkey to acknowledge and apology for a genocide imposed on its Armenian minority during World War I. Turkey over the years has refused to accept that it conducted such a genocide.

Although Faleomavaega is not very influential in Congress, he does have a full vote in committee and in this case his vote turned out to be very influential, because it was the tie breaker in a 23-22 vote in favor of the resolution. President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have signaled to House speaker Nancy Pelosi that they hope the resolution will not be put to a test on the Floor of the House.

For someone who represents a constituency that is so reliant on the federal government for assistance, Faleomavaega is either very brave or very foolish to buck the White House so often. His genocide vote comes only weeks after he condemned the very same Obama and Clinton for failing to include meetings with Pacific Island leaders on her maiden trip to the region. That trip was truncated in Hawaii because of the Haiti earthquake and despite promises by Kurt Campbell, the assistant secretary for the region, at a recent Foreign Affairs Committee hearing that Clinton would include island leaders on her rescheduled trip, it is by no means certain she will do so, especially if Faleomavaega continues to pummel the administration.

In addition to the genocide vote and the criticism of the Clinton trip, at the same hearing Faleomavaega complained to Campbell that the 176,000 dollars U.S. has given Communist Laos to clear around 80 million bombs that failed to detonate during the Vietnam was grossly insufficient. "This is absolutely outrageous,” ranted Faleomavaega, “and it's not the America that I would think of." He continued: "They never declared war against us. We're the ones that just simply went over there and bombed the heck out of them." But Campbell stood his ground, insisting that while both Vietnam and Laos want better relations with the U.S., much needs to be done in the area of human rights and democracy before real progress can be made. Once again, the ultra liberal Faleomavaega seems to turn a blind eye to such matters when it comes to his favorite left-wing and right-wing dictatorships.

Meanwhile, there has been no word out of the White House as to whether Obama will accept Faleomavaega’s invitation to visit American Samoa on his return from Indonesia-Australia trip later this month. He leaves for the Pacific in just nine days’ time: March 18. Rahm “The Enforcer” Emanuel no doubt is weighing Faleomavaega’s behavior towards Obama in the deliberations. Perhaps that is what Faleomavaega hopes to achieve: carve out an independent course and use that as an excuse if Obama declines to visit the territory. It’s all part of the Washington game. And the voters likely will rally around Faleomavaega for the discourtesy Obama would have shown. Never mind any discourtesies Faleomavaega might have shown the White House.


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