Bubble Boy No Longer? Hmmmm…
The WaPo reports that the Bush White House has embarked on a strategy which has the President publicly appearing to listen to opposing opinions, and that this may be the same thing as Bushie coming out of his bubble:
A White House long accused of squelching internal dissent and ignoring outside viewpoints has been reaching out in its moment of weakness to prominent figures who have disagreed with the president. Bush just hired a Treasury secretary who opposed his policy on global warming and a press secretary who dismissed his domestic agenda as timid and listless.
How much such moves reflect a genuine opening up for an insular White House remains uncertain. Symbolically, at least, the White House is eager to rebut the longstanding public impression of a president in a bunker listening only to like-minded advisers. Substantively, Bush has hardly signaled a major course change in the direction of his presidency, and skeptics recall past instances when nonconformists within the administration were shut out.
Yet some Washington veterans detect signs of a tentative new willingness by the administration to heed the advice of others rather than sticking stubbornly to its position. Just this week, under pressure from European allies and U.S. foreign policy elders, the administration reversed itself and agreed to join talks with Iran if it suspends nuclear activities. And last week, Bush temporarily sealed documents seized from a congressman’s office in response to complaints from Capitol Hill.
Bolten’s PR offensive aside, I call bullshit. Unless and until we see some willingness for George Bush to actually consider opinions contrary to his own, discuss them, and contemplate the ramifications of his action above and beyond "my way or the high way," all of this is just so much pre-election PR positioning. I’m with Larry Wilkerson on this one:
Others are more dubious. "I want to see the proof," said retired Col. Larry Wilkerson, who was chief of staff at the State Department until last year, when he emerged as a vocal critic of the administration. "I can hope, as I imagine 60 to 70 percent of Americans are hoping, . . . we are going to see some moderation and it’s going to bear some fruit. But I’ve got to see the fruit, because I’ve seen this before.
Actions speak louder than a new chief of staff’s attempts to put lipstick on a pig. And so far, the only action I’m seeing is a busy WH fax machine.