Holiday weekend in politics: Clinton in Mideast, Obama pardons turkeys, and more

Phil Pruitt
November 21, 2012

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who reportedly is near the end of her tenure as the United States' top diplomat, continues her urgent visit to the Middle East to help mediate a truce between the Israelis and Hamas, the Islamist Palestinian group that controls Gaza.

Clinton met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem Tuesday night, talked with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday morning and was scheduled to head to Cairo to meet with Egyptian officials later in the day.

The Israelis and Hamas had been close to a truce on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported, but talks fell apart and the violence, which has been going on for more than a week, intensified.

Clinton has three major goals, as Yahoo News' Olivier Knox points out: Help ease the violence, bolster Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, and avoid an appearance of giving Hamas, which the U.S. regards as a terrorist group, any sort of legitimacy on the world stage.

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Back in Washington on Wednesday, President Barack Obama, who is closely monitoring developments in the Middle East, will conduct the annual National Thanksgiving Turkey ceremony in the White House Rose Garden. He will pardon two turkeys — Cobbler and Gobbler — and this year the White House web site invited the public to vote on which one should be declared the official National Thanksgiving Turkey. (Sorry, polls closed at 8 p.m. EST Tuesday.)

The White House Christmas tree will be presented to first lady Michelle Obama on Friday. Russell and Beau Estes of Peak Farms in Jefferson, N.C., earned the honor of presenting the 19-foot fraser fir by winning the 2012 National Christmas Tree Association National Christmas Tree Contest.

And then there is this: "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" will feature a "bipartisan shave-off" on this Sunday's show. Republican National Committee Director of Communications Sean Spicer and his Democratic National Committee counterpart Brad Woodhouse will shave their heads to raise money for the St. Baldrick's Foundation, which funds childhood cancer research grants. Spicer lost a bet with Woodhouse on the outcome of the Nov. 6 presidential election, but both have agreed to shave their heads to support the charity.

Sources: Yahoo! News, Reuters, Associated Press