Bush listens . . . but does he learn? (1/6/06)
"Some of the things he heard, he probably didn't like too well."
Melvin Laird, defense secretary during Richard Nixon's first term, describing a meeting between (President) George W. Bush and 13 former secretaries of state and defense who, collectively, had served every president from John F. Kennedy onward. Bush made his standard pitch for the conduct of the war on Iraq. Press secretary Scott McClellan put a smiley face on the discussion: "There were a number of constructive ideas or suggestions that they had of things that maybe we ought to do differently."
[Now there's a masterful understatement. Why didn't Bush's handlers call this group together before launching their imperialist misadventure? Bill Clinton's second secretary of state, Madelyn Albright, politely labeled the debacle "a war of choice, not of necessity," but added, "getting it right is a necessity, not a choice." She criticized the decision to invade Iraq, and spoke about the poor light in which the United States is held as a result. Did Bush learn from the discussion, or broaden his perspective? In typical brain-dead fashion, as if he'd come from tea with the Ladies Auxilliary, he said the meeting had given him "a chance to listen to their concerns, their suggestions about the way forward."
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