Friday, March 24, 2006

Advice, Bad and Otherwise

Brian Lamb, founder, CEO, and Friday host of C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, spent a lot of time this morning on Sally Quinn’s Open Letter to Laura Bush (From Her Lips to His Ear), published in this morning’s WaPo. By “a lot of time,” I mean he read the whole article to C-SPAN’s Washington Journal audience and solicited calls from folks who had an opinion on the subject. And, of course, everyone has an opinion since the subject is “How to Fix the Bush Administration.”

I’m not sure what Ms. Quinn’s bona fides are, other than being a former reporter and columnist for the WaPo, a Dee-See hostess of note, and the wife of Ben Bradlee, former editor and current VP of the WaPo. Here are three paragraphs from Ms. Quinn’s missive:

The biggest problem your husband has now is that so many top Republicans have turned against him. Without the support of his own party, it's pretty much impossible for him to run the country. After the way they went after him over the Dubai ports deal, you can imagine what they are saying about him privately.

Incompetent, unrealistic and insincere were a few of the words circulating at a private dinner recently. Referring to the president's refusal to seek advice on anything -- the war, the economy, foreign policy -- one of the most prominent Republicans in Washington called the situation so dire that he feared "the country would fall apart with another three years of this."

"They don't listen to anybody," said another prominent Republican who was close to the first President Bush. (emphasis mine)

OK, so what we have here is second-hand dinner party gossip? Invite a few senators, representatives, and lobbyists to dinner, listen to them bitch, then pass on the complaints as “advice?” And advise Ms. Quinn does, offering up nine more-or-less specific items Mrs. Bush should pass on to the President. Unfortunately, there’s no ground-breaking advice here, only a repetition of the current memes circulating in Washington: get some “new blood” in the White House and/or cabinet, listen to other viewpoints, fire Rumsfeld, etc. What makes Ms. Quinn believe the President hasn’t considered these options? And what makes her think the administration doesn’t entertain viewpoints other than their own (besides bitching and complaining from disaffected persons who fear their sage advice is being ignored)? I think Ms. Quinn should stick to giving swell dinner parties and leave political advice to those qualified to give it.

In other words: Don’t do it, Laura. I think your man knows what he’s doing.

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