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Chimpy calling in "Mommy" Hughes to tackle damage control abroad

Karen Hughes is going to be setting up “rapid response” teams to combat all this bad press (and all the naysayers) criticizing the Admin. How sad is this?

For years, President Bush has called on Karen P. Hughes, his confidante from Texas, to help devise replies to attacks from political foes. Now Ms. Hughes, installed at the State Department, plans to set up “rapid response” teams to counter bad news and defend administration policies around the globe.

The teams, to be set up in the Middle East and elsewhere, are one of several initiatives being prepared by Ms. Hughes, who took office this week as under secretary of public diplomacy. The initiatives are part of what Bush administration officials say will be an aggressive drive to repair America’s poor image abroad, particularly in Muslim countries.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in an interview this week that the units would “work to deal with misinformation and misinterpretation.” During the war in Afghanistan, Ms. Rice said, the administration discovered that it had to rebut “all kinds of lies about what we were doing.” [There’s balls for you, considering the litany of lies uttered by people in this Administration.]

…Ten days ago, Ms. Hughes laid out her plans for public diplomacy at a meeting with Mr. Bush at the president’s ranch in Crawford, Tex. She was joined by Ms. Rice and Ms. Hughes’s deputy, Dina Powell, a former White House personnel director. But she has declined interview requests, saying that she needs more time to flesh out her ideas. Other officials, asking not to be identified because the plans are not final, provided some details, including information about what they said were Ms. Hughes’s plans to travel to Europe and the Middle East and to do as much listening as talking on her trips.

…Among the officials consulted by Ms. Hughes is Edward P. Djerejian, a former ambassador and White House spokesman, who headed a task force that concluded in 2003 that hostility toward the United States had reached “shocking” levels. [Duh.]

Mr. Djerejian said that in talking with Ms. Hughes and Ms. Rice, it was clear that they understood that roughly 80 percent of the explanation for the poor American image stemmed from American policies, but that much could be done to improve the communication of those policies to affect the other 20 percent.

That last comment is laughable. I don’t think they can salvage 5%, let alone 20%. And how did he come up with that split to begin with? Can this get any more embarrassing?

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding