Saturday, June 03, 2006

NYT! Behind the Diplomacy

By Creature

This morning I told you all about a happy, bubble-busting, propaganda piece in today's Washington Post. Well, it seems The New York Times does not want to be left out of the kiss-ass-fest that counts as news for our media today. In an article slated for publication tomorrow, the NYT takes us Behind the Diplomacy as our decider-in-chief takes a chance and makes a monumental decision regarding Iran and our willingness, for the first time in almost three decades, to join in direct talks with them. The fact that the decisions were predicated on a big fat "if" that the Iranians would never agree to plays no role in this piece by Helen Cooper and David Sanger. The president, in need of rehabilitation, gets the good ink, while Tony Snow earns his keep. Look, everyone, the president is doing his job.

He's curious...

The president grimaced, one aide said, "with a look that said, 'O.K., team, what's the answer?' "

He listens...

Mr. Bush's aides rarely describe policy debates in the Oval Office in much detail. But in recounting his decisions in this case, they appeared eager to portray him as a president who determined that he needed to rebuild a fractured coalition still bearing scars from Iraq, and to find a way out of a negotiating dynamic that, as one of his aides said recently, "the Iranians were winning."

He's engaged...

Mr. Bush's own early misgivings about the path he was considering came in a flurry of phone calls to Ms. Rice and to Stephen J. Hadley, his national security adviser, that often began with questions like "What if the Iranians do this," gaming out loud a number of possible situations.

He's in control...

Even after Mr. Bush edited and approved the statement Ms. Rice was scheduled to read on Wednesday morning before she flew to Vienna to encourage Europe and Russia to sign on to a final package of incentives for Iran — and sanctions if it turns the offer down — Ms. Rice wanted to check in one more time. She called the president back. Was he sure he was okay with his decision?

"Go do it," he responded.

He's informed...

Mr. Bush, one aide noted, "had Iran on the mind" because he was receiving special intelligence assessments every morning, some on Iran's intentions, others examining Mr. Ahmadinejad's personality, still others exploring how long it would take Iran to produce a bomb.

By gosh, he's the actual president...

While Mr. Bush initially told Ms. Rice that others could work out the final negotiations, Ms. Rice told the president that "only you can nail this down," an apparent reference to keeping Ms. Merkel and Mr. Putin on board. Mr. Bush made the calls.

Cheney magnanimously requested not to be included in this article. In a sidebar interview the Times is quoting Cheney as saying, "I don't need the spotlight here. The fact that I had to dial the phone for the president doesn't subtract from the importance of this monumental, brave, far-sighted, and all-around peachy decision." Soon after making this statement the vice president was rushed to Bethesda Medical Center with a self-inflicted bite wound to the tongue.

(Cross-posted at State of the Day.)

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