Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Conflict of interest

We were going to let the following pass as just garden variety news conference flattery but it's gotten more irritating with subsequent developments so here goes. Condoleezza Rice and David Miliband, from whom the quote below comes, yesterday --

It’s not like it’s a quiet time in foreign affairs at the moment, so I don’t want to tempt fate by saying this is necessarily your last visit to London, but it may be the last occasion I get the chance to say publicly what I’ve said privately, which is that you have had a record of incredible distinction in all of the posts that you’ve held in U.S. Government, first National Security Advisor and then as Secretary of State.

His assessment of her performance as National Security Advisor is shared by just about nobody. Not even Condi. Here she is, just a few months ago, responding to multiple damning assessments of her time in that job --

“I told Steve Hadley once, I frankly prefer being coordinated than coordinating,” she said, referring to the current national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley. National security advisers, she said, end up spending their time thinking: “Let me see if I can get Secretary X to do Y, and Secretary Y to do X, and let’s see if we can get both to do it.” She gave a nod. “I prefer line responsibility,” she said, echoing perhaps the biggest complaint about her time at the National Security Council, that she was more follower than leader.

But if you're David Miliband, what matters in this case is not Condi's actual performance, but the fact that your wife is headed later that evening to participate in a musical recital with Condi for the Queen. Is this the kind of personal relationship clouding professional judgement that we need at a time of war? (as the rightwingers would normally say)

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