I did get to hear them discuss why Bolton doesn't approve of the job Condoleezza Rice is doing as Secretary of State. Bolton explained that the way things work best is when the Secretary of State acts as the President's representative in the State Department rather than acting as the State Department's representative in the White House. Bolton explained that James Baker III had been successful under George Bush's father because he had played this role and he had hoped that Rice would do the same for the younger Bush. Unfortunately, like Colin Powell before her, Rice acted as though she was the State Department's representative rather than the President's, which Rios agreed was most regrettable.
Not surprisingly, this pronouncement caused every synapse in my brain to misfire causing me to drive into a ditch. When I recovered my mental faculties, several things occurred to me.
- Bush 41 was incredibly knowledgable when it came to foreign affairs. He prided himself on the personal relationships he maintained with leaders throughout the world. There was much less need for Baker to communicate the State Department's knowledge and expertise to the administration. Bush 43, on the other hand, knew virtually nothing about foreign affairs when he came into office (and still does not if you ask me). Is is any surprise that Powell might think that part of his job was educating the President about what the State Department did?
- Does any one in his or her right mind not wish that Bush had listened to Powell about the problems posed by an invasion of Iraq? Does anyone in his or her right mind not wish that Bush had availed himself of the planning and expertise of the State Department regarding the occupation of Iraq rather than giving carte blanche to Paul O'Neill to disband the Iraqi Army and de-Baathify the Iraqi government?
- Does anyone not recall that the saddest moment in an otherwise distinguised career was when Powell did serve as Bush's representative by selling faulty intelligence at the United Nations? Is there anything more galling than to hear neocons complaining that an honorable public servant like Powell was not willing to further sully his own reputation by embracing and selling Bush's ignorance of foreign policy?
Is there any chance the United States can survive the last year of the Bush administration?