Bush just called all the living Secretaries of State and Defense to the White House for a pow wow on what to do in Iraq. You'll see what I mean by curious when you look at the headline:
Bush Listens to Suggestions on Iraq
And the lede:
President Bush promised to "take to heart" suggestions on Iraq he heard Thursday from former secretaries of defense and state who have disagreed with his approach there.
Consider. Bush invited Democrats to this meeting. Maddy Albright, Harold Brown, and William Perry. And Robert McNamara, too, but I suspect that was just a ploy to freak Rummy out, kind of like making him look at the Ghost of Christmas Future. Anyway, Bush doesn't take advice from Democrats.
But Bush offered no evidence he plans any significant changes in strategy.
Still, the whole meeting really fascinates me. Either it was intended as a photo op. In which case it didn't work, because the best photo that came out looks like it should be titled "Sleeping Dick and Nauseous Condi."
Or, Bush genuinely wanted to get some advice. I kind of fancy that Bush has just begun to realize how big of a mess he's made over in Mess of Potamia, and he really wants to rethink the entire Great Game.
I kind of wish he had invited the National Security Advisors, too, because I think Zbig--and even Kissinger--might be able to provide some real perspective. And Scowcroft, I'm sure, could have added the gravitas that the sleeping Dick couldn't provide.
Speaking of Scowcroft, I wonder, whether inviting Democrats to the meeting simply provided cover for the people Bush really wanted to get advice from. Daddy's guys. Colin Powell, James Baker, Lawrence Eagleburger. A pretty elaborate cover, I'll grant you. But things are not what they used to be in Poppy worship.
No matter. From the looks of things neither Dick nor Condi were convinced. Which I presume means we'll just continue our same old strategy of catastrophic success.
Update: Kicked William Cohen out of the Democratic party, back to where he belongs--thanks to Excessive Bastard. I got fooled by that damn bipartisan trap!
Update 2: Maddy gets testy:
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."
And yes, it was utterly and totally a photo op:
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.
When cameras were in the room, though, Mr. Bush was appreciative. "I'm most grateful for the suggestions that have been given," he said. "We take to heard the advice, we appreciate your experience and we appreciate you taking the time out of your day."