*This Time, He Really Was Railroaded*
By Al Kamen
Wednesday, September 26, 2007; A17
Once he had a whole list of countries to invade, a huge security detail,
choppers overhead guarding him, and an entourage of aides and gofers.
Until the recent unpleasantness, he was the world's banker, greeted as a
head of state when he traveled abroad, often in his own chartered plane.
On Monday, /Paul Wolfowitz
was on the 10 a.m. Acela train to New York
not even in first class, munching on a pastry, unnoticed, all alone.
Dressed in trousers from a dark suit and a white shirt with no tie, he
settled in with a pile of newspapers, a printed schedule and other
papers, and our professional spotter was seated just behind him.
There was an embossed invitation to a farewell event hosted by Robert
-- probably the one for the Joint Chiefs chairman, Gen. Peter Pace
whom we prematurely retired a few columns ago. Wolfie plopped the
on top of the pile but then didn't really read it, being totally
absorbed in scrolling through his BlackBerry
At 10:25 a.m., he made a call on the BlackBerry. "Hi there, just calling
to say hi," he said. A woman's voice was on the other end. They chatted
for a bit.
Then he nodded off peacefully for the next hour. He stirred at 11:25 and
immediately looked at his BlackBerry. He pulled out some sort of
chocolate-covered pastry he had evidently brought on the train with him.
He scarfed down about half of it and then got up.
He returned 12 minutes later with a Red Bull energy drink
and a coffee from the cafe car. He answered a call from "Susan" and said
he would be "pretty much out for the whole week." He hung up and started
studying the nutritional information on the back of the Red Bull
Then he polished off the pastry.
After that, another call. "Hi, my name is Paul Wolfowitz, and someone
suggested I get in touch with [sounded like] Mr. Aaron," he said.
"Paul Wolfowitz," he said. "W-O-L-F-O-W-I-T-Z."
Wasn't all that long ago he was bombing B-A-G-H-D-A-D.
*To Be Diplomatic*
Loop Alert! Did you contribute oodles of money to the Bush-Cheney
campaigns? And you haven't yet cashed in on a lovely ambassadorship in
or some other fine location? Then get moving, because the window is
about to close on you.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman /Joseph R. Biden Jr.
(D-Del.) has sent word to the White House
that non-career nominees had best get up to the committee by October --
which would be Monday -- to have any realistic chance of confirmation.
Posting an ambassador overseas is a pricey endeavor. Household goods
need to be shipped, the old digs are repainted, artwork might need
changing, running the cost to tens of thousands of dollars. And hundreds
of man-hours are devoted to training in the "charm school" State
course here for new ambassadors, followed by hours of briefings overseas
from the Foreign Service and intelligence folks.
There is, of course, a no-cost solution to this problem. First, let's
get real: Most of these high rollers really are more concerned with
making sure they are called "Ambassador" and "the Honorable" for the
rest of their lives.
The White House and the Senate simply need to work out a deal so these
folks get put in a streamlined "confirm/no go" basket in which they
would get Senate confirmation and claim the titles -- but don't get sent
overseas, where they could do some serious damage.
*No Tasering Here*
is having what passes these days for a campus uproar over the Hoover
Institution's move to name former defense secretary /Donald Rumsfeld
a visiting fellow. No riots or sit-ins, but there is an online petition
effort -- more than 2,500 signatures by Friday -- decrying the move by
Hoover -- the conservative think tank at the school.
On the other hand, there was nary a ripple at Syracuse University
last week when Chief Justice /John G. Roberts Jr./
went up to dedicate a new building at the communications school for the
beginning of the "Year of the First Amendment."
Hundreds of people attended Roberts's speech, according to the campus
newspaper, the Daily Orange, but only a few scattered protesters noted
Roberts's recent majority opinion in /Morse v. Frederick
the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" case that restricted student speech.
Maybe a few too many bong hits?
*That's 'PREZ-i-dent Boosh' to You*
Bit of a slip-up at the United Nations
yesterday. Someone posted a copy of /President Bush
underwhelming address on the U.N. Web site, but turns out it was a
draft, complete with helpful phonetic pronunciations for various
countries and people.
"The United States, salutes the nations that have recently taken strides
toward liberty," the draft said, "including Ukraine
the draft said, "the behavior of the Mugabe [moo-GAH-bee] regime is an
assault on its people," and the U.N. "must insist on change in Harare
There was a tip of the hat to "French President Sarkozy
The mix-up seemed to unsettle even the usually mild-mannered White House
press secretary, /Dana Perino
"On the speech -- your question about the speech," she told reporters,
"the drafts are circulated, and there was an error made in trying to
make sure that interpreters had what they needed. I don't know how the
draft of the speech -- it was not final -- was posted, but it was, and
it was taken down. There's really nothing more to say about it."
What about the phonetic spellings? "That's not unusual," she said. "We
do that for many speeches."
"Does the president have a hard time pronouncing some of these
countries' names?" a reporter asked.
"I think that's an offensive question. I'm going to just decline to
comment on it."
What effrontery [eh-FRUNT-er-ee] !