My Big Fat Publicity Stunt
Let’s call it what it was-
Colin Powell said nothing – a silence that spoke volumes to many in the White House today.
His predecessor, Madeleine Albright, was a bit riled after hearing an exceedingly upbeat 40-minute briefing to 13 living former secretaries of state and defense about how well things are going in Iraq. Saying the war in Iraq was “taking up all the energy” of President Bush’s foreign policy team, she asked Mr. t Bush whether he had let nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea spin out of control, and Latin America and China policy suffer by benign neglect.
“I can’t let this comment stand,” Mr. Bush shot back, telling Ms. Albright and the rare assembly of her colleagues, who reached back to the Kennedy White House, that his administration “can do more than one thing at a time.”
The Bush administration, the president insisted, had “the best relations of any country with Japan, China and Korea,” and active programs to win alliances around the world.
That was, according to some of the participants, one of the few moments of heat during an unusual White House effort to bring some of its critics into the fold and give a patina of bipartisan common ground to the strategy that Mr. Bush has laid out in recent weeks for Iraq.
But if it was a bipartisan consultation, as advertised by the White House, it was a brief one. Mr. Bush allowed 5 to 10 minutes this morning for interchange with the group – which included three veterans of another difficult war, the one in Vietnam: Robert S. McNamara, Melvin R. Laird and James R. Schlesinger. Then the entire group was herded the Oval Office for what he called a “family picture.”
Those who wanted to impart more wisdom to the current occupants of the White House were sent back across the hall to meet again with Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, and Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. But, as several of the participants noted, by that time Mr. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld had gone on to other meetings. (my emphasis)
Unless there were gift bags given out to the attendees, they just got used like a Hinderaker kleenex during Miss Universe week.