Tomorrow's Time Magazine 'Surprise': Obama Listens to....Condi Rice?

This week's issue of TIME magazine, arriving on Friday, details the surprising respect and productive relationship between Barack Obama and Condoleezza Rice.

Massimo Calabresi writes that Obama and Secretary of State Rice, one of the architects and defenders of the Iraq disaster, among other Bush administration failures, "have come to have a certain respect for each other... because both take an intellectual, sober view of foreign affairs."

An aide to Barack Obama tells Calabresi, "They've had good exchanges. Does he treat her as someone whom he has respect for? Absolutely. Does he listen to her on occasion? Absolutely." The aide added that Rice "can expect the phone calls to continue."

The article opens: "A few days before he left on his eight-country world tour, Barack Obama wanted to discuss the trip with an old contact in Washington: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Obama's phone call was in part courtesy, but over three years of occasional phone conversations, the two have quietly discussed everything from foreign aid to the Middle East and nuclear proliferation.

"The little-known Rice-Obama link is just the latest surprise in a summer of unexpected shifts in American foreign policy."

Calabresi reports that Rice is trying to "clean up" the Bush mess and that the latest diplomatic moves orchestrated by her "signal the latest triumph of realism over ideology -- and a victory for Rice and her diplomatic team over the neoconservatives led by Vice President Cheney. The moves amount to an unmistakable effort to clean up Bush's foreign policy legacy before he exits the stage."

Ken Duberstein, the former Reagan aide, tells TIME, "This is bold strategic diplomacy with an eye to the history books."

TIME also studies the coming campaign in the battleground state of Michigan and concludes that Obama is in some trouble there. Amy Sullivan relates: "Michigan has gone Democratic in every presidential election cycle since 1988 -- but it could surprise this time around. While Democrats usually benefit when economic concerns dominate an election, Barack Obama is running only a few points ahead of John McCain in statewide polls, a margin neither side considers safe. Adding to Obama's challenges is the fact that several of the state's Democratic leaders are wildly unpopular, under indictment or both ... What is certain is that Obama's 4-point lead in recent statewide polls means little in a state with a tradition of making last-minute decisions."
Greg Mitchell's new book is So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits -- and the President -- Failed on Iraq. He is editor of Editor & Publisher.