Former secretaries of state and defense aren’t supposed to be poodles and patsies, but I’ve gotta wonder. What were they thinking? They all linked up like kindergartners for the photo op with the prez in the Oval Office, a baker’s dozen of ‘em by my count: Albright, Baker, Carlucci, Cohen – line up according to height please, and no pushing – and for their pains got a grand total of five to ten minutes of actual dialogue time with Bush. During that time, they were mostly polite and held their tongues. And they came out to say basically this: Well, some of us think that invading Iraq was the cat’s pajamas, and some of us think it was way dumb, but now that we are there it pretty much looks like the president is doing the right thing.
For their pains they were treated to a 40-minute dog and pony show by Ambassador Zal Khalilzad and Gen. Peter Pace, who (I am sure) had on their full-tint rosy eyeshades.
Here’s my favorite quote from the gathering of the Next Best and Brightest. From Mel Laird, the Vietnam-era defense chief: “He listened to us.” Yes, but did you say anything? In five minutes, with 13 people? My calculator says that it divides up to precisely 23 second per person. Oh—wait. Colin Powell didn’t say a word. That gave each of the other twelve 25 seconds a piece. And that’s not counting Bush’s reportedly “feisty” replies.