Cheney and his team are disurbingly impressive in their ability to constantly get away with sabotaging the work and efforts of President Bush and his team.
The New York Sun's Benny Avni reports:
As her aides anticipated an important announcement about Israeli-Arab diplomacy yesterday, sources in Jerusalem and Washington said Secretary of State Rice has encountered enough resistance from all sides to lower her expectations for a breakthrough.
Israeli officials have spoken to a top White House official in recent days, using friendly Washington contacts to go "over Condi's head" to describe several of her new ideas as unrealistic, a Jerusalem source, who declined to be identified, told The New York Sun.
Specifically, according to three officials involved in this week's flurry of diplomatic activity in Washington, Jerusalem, Arab capitals, and the United Nations, Ms. Rice intended to intensify her shuttle diplomacy between Israeli and Palestinian Arab leaders, in an attempt to get them to start negotiating "final status" issues.
There are very few people in the White House that Avni could reputably title as "over Condi's head."
Elliot Abrams would not count -- nor would John Hannah, Cheney's national security advisor. I suppose one could stretch the idea that Stephen Hadley had an edge on Rice, but it is an artificial edge as her relationship with President Bush is closer than Hadley's -- and she held his job while he served as her deputy. So, an honest journalist would not note Hadley as "over Condi's head" without some clear qualification.
David Addington, Cheney's chief of staff, certainly is not over Rice -- but the VP is a different story.
I don't have any idea if the New York Sun really got access to Cheney -- but he and the President himself are the only ones would could be framed as Condi's superiors in this political process -- and I know that Bush is not the person Avni is referring to.
That means -- if the story has legs, which it probably does -- that Cheney is out there working hard to sabotage Condoleezza Rice's efforts in the Middle East, particularly her Middle East Super Summit idea which I think has merit.
President Bush needs to shut Cheney down -- sideline him -- and send an unambiguous message to all of his staff that Condi Rice has the helm and the others should swab the deck.
Bush has few if any chances to do something positive in the foreign policy arena and needs to recognize that the enemies of his administration succeeding are housed over in the VP's wing of the Old Executive Office Building.
President Bush, please send Cheney quail-hunting.
-- Steve Clemons publishes the popular political blog, The Washington Note
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