Admiring Clinton

As the year quietly comes to a close, the top-ten lists continue to flood the press. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the most admired woman of 2010 according to a recent USA Today/Gallup poll. She’s been at the top of the list for the past nine years in a row (and fifteen times total since 1992). First Lady Michelle Obama and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice aren’t far behind in spots four and five, respectively. President Barack Obama beat out former-Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton for the top male spot.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is taunting Washington. Chavez recently rejected Larry Palmer, the administration’s choice for ambassador to Venezuela, and said that he will not let Palmer into the country. Washington is standing behind its choice. And refusing to budge on his stance, Chavez dared the administration to expel Venezuela’s ambassador from Washington: “if they're going to cut diplomatic relations, let them do it!” He added, “the U.S. government is threatening us that they're going to take reprisals. Well, let them do whatever they want, but that man will not come.”

And with the rise of a seemingly more aggressive China playing out in the background, Defense Secretary Robert Gates is gearing up for his trip to the region in January. He’s added Seoul to his itinerary, and, according to Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell, he plans to discuss “North Korea's recent actions and consult on the way forward for the alliance to address the threats posed by North Korean provocations and its nuclear and missile programs” with South Korean officials.