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Monday, April 09, 2007
(10:47 AM) | Stephen:
Bill Richardson in North Korea

Bill Richardson is in North Korea right now, negotiating for the remains of US soldiers killed in the Korean War. He's working pretty closely with Bush Administration officials, which I've been trying to understand. This trip is obviously a good thing for Richardson, a way for the 4th-place Democratic Presidential candidate to keep in the national press. I'd be surprised at any presidential administration allowing a presidential candidate from the opposing party to take part in high-profile negotiations with a hostile country. That the Bush Administration is the one doing it is astonishing.

The only way I can make sense of this is to conclude that the Bush Administration wants a diplomatic victory for once, and Bill Richardson is just that good. The one thing Richardson needs to keep in mind is that while this trip will make him look good, it won't necessarily make him look presidential. It's one thing for him to travel, on his own initiative, to secure the release of New Mexican journalists or to try and bring about a cease-fire in places like Darfur. But traveling to North Korea at the behest of President Bush is following, not leading.

This shows what a difficult job it's going to be for Richardson to run on his diplomatic talents and resume. It's always going to be a balancing-act between being the only candidate with Executive-level experience and the one who gets sent by others to get a job done.

As a side note, it's interesting that Richardson's delegation plans on driving from Pyongyang into South Korea. Presumably they'll go through Panmunjom, and there is at least one road, of sorts, that connects the two countries. But even with all the official recognition and endorsement, that mile between the two armies is going to be rather tense.

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