Monday, November 26, 2007

Cheney vs. Rice, Fight to the Finish

With Karl Rove gone, the battle for Bush's brain is on between the remaining White House heavyweights, Vice-President Cheney and the Secretary of State, who is taking the offensive as the last round begins.

At Annapolis tomorrow, Condoleeza Rice will engage Mideast leaders in an attempt to stop the pounding she and her President have taken over Iraq and show some fancy footwork in moving toward an Israeli-Palestinian peace.

In today's New York Times, her biographer, Elisabeth Bumiller has two stories, one about Rice's "Turnabout on Mideast Peace Talks" and another on the "Personal Bond" between Bush and the woman he affectionately calls "Madame Rice."

This is heavy-duty book promotion and somewhat iffy journalism by a reporter with a vested interest in her subject, but more important, it kicks off Rice's campaign to burnish her legacy as well as Bush's.

Ms. Bumiller, after chronicling Rice's early opposition to involvement in the Isareli-Palestinian standoff, concludes: "Nearly seven tumultuous years later, Ms. Rice, as secretary of state, has led the Bush administration to a startling turnaround and is now thrusting the United States as forcefully as Mr. Clinton once did into the role of mediator between the Israelis and Palestinians. The culmination of her efforts occurs this week in Annapolis, Md., as Mr. Bush, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, meet to set the outlines of a final peace agreement before the end of Mr. Bush’s term."

All this, Bumiller reports in detail, is over the grim opposition of Dick Cheney, who is willing to bomb but not talk to anyone in the region.

The gossipy sidebar rehashes the Bush-Rice personal ties and explains how she used "her relationship with Mr. Bush to try to gain control over the national security process as well as two powerful men who drove much of the agenda in the first term," Cheney and Don Rumsfeld.

The gloves are off, Rice and Cheney are in the ring and, outside of their personal fight, there is not much at stake beyond peace in the Mideast and whether or not we invade Iran before Bush leaves office.

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