HRC Rival Sounds Like Bill

As part of our continuing, exhaustive (exhausting?) series on Mark Warner in New York, here’s a write-up from Observer contributor Niall Stanage on an event that was covered by him and one Japanese reporter and, as far as Niall could tell, no one else:

Addressing the annual dinner of the Japan Society at the Hilton Hotel, Mark Warner delivered a speech that borrowed much of its lexicon and its worldview from Sen. Clinton’s husband, emphatically underlining his centrist credentials.

At times, it could almost have been the former president at the lectern. Warner spoke frequently of an “interconnected” and interdependent world.

In a supremely Clintonian formulation, he asserted that the current moment held “tremendous” opportunities, “but only if we see the key questions of our day . . .are no longer based on the ideological fault lines of the past: left versus right, liberal versus conservative, or even open versus closed markets. Issues must be looked at through the prism of the future versus the past.”

A lack of foreign policy experience could clearly be a weakness if Warner presses ahead with a presidential bid. He seemed intent on dispelling any impression of ignorance or naiveté last night.

More after the jump.

Among the issues he touched upon: North Korea’s nuclear program (“it is time to re-energize the six-party talks”); Japan’s role in the world (he asserted that the U.S. should support Japan becoming a permanent member of the UN Security Council); and the rise of China (“the U.S. and Japan should consider launching a trilateral dialogue with China”).

It wasn’t all Third Way-ism and foreign policy theorizing, though. Warner also delivered a broadside against the administration for its attitude to the environment.

“More effort has been put into denying global warming than doing something about it,” he said. He also complained about the lack of “leadership that is willing to look a little further down the road and actually embrace science.”

Though far from an incendiary address – it even began with the former gov commending the Bush administration “for recognizing the importance of Japan” – Warner did showcase his knack for politically savvy terminology.

Expect to hear much more about “energy security” – a phrase that captures in two words an idea that John Kerry tried in vain to articulate effectively in ’04 – if a Warner candidacy takes off.