Only the Lame and Witless Need Apply

Outstanding analysis of Bush’s latest pick for undersecretary of state for public diplomacy (longtime drink-the-Koolaider Karen Hughes) in a recent Media Week, which I just got around to reading. Before he wowed us with the stunningly bad Bolton nomination, the MSM gave Bush a pass on Hughes, the article said.

‘He’s playing for his place in the history books,’ seemed to be the big theme on the Sunday morning talk shows.

If his place in the history books is “most self-delusional president,” then those pundits are clearly right, because the appointment of Hughes proves nothing more than the fact that Bush doesn’t understand diplomacy and never will. For Bush—and for Hughes, who played a major role in both of Bush’s presidential campaigns—diplomacy means staying “on message,” even when that message is being undercut by facts and common sense. That’s a good strategy within the U.S., because our media is so cowed by this administration—and so starved for access to the administration’s key players—that it seems unwilling to seriously challenge anything coming out of the White House, lest that access be withdrawn.

The rest of the world’s media are not so cowed… Somehow, I don’t think the threat that Condi and Rummy won’t come on and do interviews is going to stop Al Jazeera or Al Arabia from running the latest Abu Ghraib photos…

Before it uses advertising and public relations as part of a worldwide diplomacy effort, this administration needs to understand the basic rule of marketing: even the flashiest ads can’t sell a lousy product. In this case, that lousy product is our foreign policy.

True that!

Mel W. Martinez?

The Memo is having at least a passing effect on the polls for Mel Martinez. It’s also exposing him as a chip off the old “Take no blame and retaliate hard if criticized” Bush block that put him in office. The St. Petersburg Times reported what it’s like to be Mel these days.

After a spate of public criticism and humiliation, Sen. Mel Martinez vowed to sit down and talk about his mistakes and possible changes in how his staff operates.

But on Friday, a day after a new poll showed he has lost favor with voters, Florida’s freshman senator said he won’t talk about it, he just wants to get this episode behind him.

“I don’t intend to dwell on it,” Martinez said… “We’re learning from it and we’re moving on.”

What happens if you’re one of his goons and you talk to the press has a familiar ring. Oh yeah, it’s pure W.

Several Florida supporters who got reassuring calls from Martinez’s staff said they were reluctant to talk about their conversations because they feared they would be shut out of the senator’s inner circle.

Also eerily familiar is Mel’s ability to flip-flop without irony, especially on accountability.

Earlier this week, Martinez and his staff indicated he would sit down and talk about the memo following reviews by his office and the Senate Rules Committee. “I’m waiting to do it right,” he said.

By week’s end, Martinez did not want to talk about it. His spokeswoman Kerry Feehery said there was nothing more to say.

No, there couldn’t possibly be any questions left, especially when you read the Times’ recap of Mel’s version of the events.

Martinez said last week that he had not known that a senior staffer wrote a controversial memo explaining how Republican members of Congress could exploit the Terri Schiavo case. Unbeknownst to him, he said, the memo ended up in the pocket of his suit jacket and he handed it to another senator without realizing what it was.

Makes perfect sense to me. No questions.

Arnold vs. the Nurses: ‘He Sees Women as Completely Subservient’

This, ladies and gentlemen – I do mean Democrats – is how it is done. The LAT ran a front page profile today of Rose Ann DeMoro, the executive director of the California Nurses Assn., a 60,000-member labor union that has been giving Gov. Schwarzenegger hell, of late.

“He was on a roll, he was unassailable, and people told us we couldn’t take him on,” said DeMoro, sitting in a fourth-floor conference room at the association’s brick headquarters here. Two Schwarzenegger bobble-head dolls, one labeled “Governor Girlie Man,” roosted on her desk. “We take extreme credit for his poll numbers dropping like a rock,” DeMoro said.

Schwarzenegger’s once-soaring approval ratings have indeed plunged, and his sweeping proposals to revamp state government have stalled.

He can’t seem to attend a fundraiser free of boisterous union protesters, with chanting nurses often in the front ranks. And one of his favorite lines for diminishing his opponents — “I am always kicking their butts” — has come back to haunt him, thanks to angry RNs mobilized by DeMoro.

Although she was never a nurse – she used to organize for the Teamsters in Hollywood – during DeMoro’s 12 years heading the association, the union has defied labor-movement trends by tripling its membership, according to the Times article.

In her battle with the governor, the tide turned when Schwarzenegger egged on the nurses, and unleashed her fervor for street-level activism. “When Arnold attacked those nurses, he just fell into a trap, and there’s no doubt the nurses outflanked him,” said Allan Hoffenblum, a Republican strategist in Los Angeles.

DeMoro brands Schwarzenegger a “bullying” sexist. “I think he sees women as completely subservient,” she told the Times.