Before I get onto the important stuff about Rummie, Gates etc, I would like to say how gratifying I found it that President Bush chose to use part of his press conference yesterday to confirm my story about his reading contest with Karl Rove. Bush said that, on account of the elections, he had now fallen behind Rove in their contest to see who could read more books this year. Was this a subtle response to my accusation that, by reading too much, he is slacking on the job? I like to think so. I’m sure Bush has worried about little else over the last couple of days.
Actually, I thought Bush was in surprisingly good form, given the “thumping” (his word) that the Republicans had just been given. The humour and resilience that he displayed reminded me why – way back when – so many people found him an attractive candidate.
The appointment of Bob Gates as defence secretary is further evidence of the comeback of the old Republican establishment who served Bush One. Gates was director of the CIA in the early 1990s. What with Jim Baker (George Bush I’s secretary of state) heading the Iraq Study Group, it is clear that the veterans and the “realists” are back in fashion. As well as being a member of Baker’s Iraq group, Gates is on record as being in favour of opening unconditional talks with Iran.