Semi-Daily Journal Archive

The Blogspot archive of the weblog of J. Bradford DeLong, Professor of Economics and Chair of the PEIS major at U.C. Berkeley, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Friday, January 06, 2006

We all remember Washington Post national political editor John Harris's declaration that the Post's "only asset [is its] credibility" as an objective reporter of the news. Here we have a Post reporter and a non-Post reporter writing about exactly the same thing:

The New YorK Times's David Sanger on Bush's photo-op with thirteen ex-Secretaries of State and Defense:

Visited by a Host of Administrations Past, Bush Hears Some Chastening Words - New York Times: Colin L. Powell said nothing - a silence that spoke volumes to many in the White House on Thursday morning. His predecessor, Madeleine K. Albright, a bit stirred up after hearing an exceedingly upbeat 40-minute briefing to 13 former secretaries of state and defense about how well things are going in Iraq, asked President Bush whether, with the war "taking up all the energy" of his foreign policy team, he had let the nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea spin out of control and allowed Latin America and China policy suffer by neglect. "I can't let this comment stand," Mr. Bush shot back, telling Ms. Albright and the rare assembly of her colleagues, who reached back to the Kennedy White House, that his administration "can do more than one thing at a time." The Bush administration, he insisted, had "the best relations of any country with Japan, China and Korea," and had active programs to make alliances around the world.

That was, it appears, one of the few heated moments during an unusual White House effort to bring some of its critics into the fold and provide a patina of bipartisan common ground to the strategy Mr. Bush has laid out in recent weeks for Iraq. But if it was a bipartisan consultation, as advertised by the White House, it was a brief one. Mr. Bush allowed 5 to 10 minutes for interchange with the group - which included three veterans of the Vietnam era: Robert S. McNamara, Melvin R. Laird and James R. Schlesinger - before herding the whole group into the Oval Office for what he called a "family picture." Those who wanted to impart more wisdom to the current occupants of the White House were sent back across the hall to meet again with Stephen J. Hadley, the national security adviser, and Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But as several of the participants noted, by that time Mr. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld had gone on to other meetings...

And here is the Washington Post's Jim VandeHei on the same meeting:

Voices From History Echo Anew: President Bush summoned most of the living former secretaries of state and defense to the White House yesterday for what participants described as a cordial but pointed discussion about the future of Iraq. The bipartisan advice-seeking was virtually unprecedented for this White House, which has drawn criticism even from Republicans for being insular in its deliberations and dismissive of dissenters.

The session in the Roosevelt Room came complete with a photo opportunity and presidential statement after Bush spent an hour with such prominent foreign policy voices as Robert S. McNamara, a Democratic secretary of defense during the Vietnam era 40 years ago, and James A. Baker III, the secretary of state for Bush's father during the Persian Gulf War of the early 1990s.

While the president was challenged once or twice in the meeting, according to participants, White House aides believed they accomplished their twin goals of portraying a more solicitous president and underscoring the broad bipartisan agreement that a speedy withdrawal from Iraq would be unwise and potentially devastating to U.S. interests...

Does anybody think that this kind of thing enhances the Post's

reputation for "objectivity"?

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