I question how anyone

Views

I question how anyone who has been loyal to this President for the last 6 years, as Condi Rice has been, can be considered a moderate. But if there is a remnant faction of moderates in the Administration, they probably are hiding somewhere in Foggy Bottom, and this assessment from Shmuel Rosner is probably correct that the current Lebanese-Israeli situation may be those moderates’ last stand:

For more than a year now Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been working on her image around the world. A year’s worth of effort, and some worthy achievements, and then in two weeks of crisis everything is ruined.

The Europeans, the ambassadors the United Nations, the leaders of Arab states, all those who saw in Rice a stabilizing factor, calculated and reasonable in the Bush administration, are reevaluating their stance toward her. For Rice, this is a personal blow, and also a professional obstacle. Her prestige is an important tool of the trade, and with its absence she will find it difficult to mark successes in the future.

Rice will return to Washington on Monday, frustrated and bruised from two weeks of an exhausting trek that has come to an end on a bitter note. She will sit in meetings with her team in order to think about the crisis anew. Her first mission will be to ensure that the State Department and the White House are broadcasting on the same wavelength.

For the first time during the talks between the Americans and their Israeli counterparts, there is some tension. Israel is not delivering the goods: a quick and convincing victory over Hezbollah, and in its actions Israel is making it more difficult for the Americans to block the international tide in favor of a cease-fire. As such, in different parts of the Bush administration there is a growing realization that the time is approaching when it will be necessary to “cut and bolt with whatever is at hand,” as one Washington source said Sunday. Perhaps this will be sooner than Israel expects.

Still, the White House is not the State Department. It is less sensitive to the cries from Europe and a lot more attuned to the domestic political scene, where Israel has the advantage for the time being.

In other words, the real power in the Administration flows not through Foggy Bottom but through the Pentagon and the Office of the Vice President. You would think that Condi would have figured that out by now.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.
LIKE US ON FACEBOOK